If you’re like most sales managers we speak to, you have a mandate to grow sales. As part of that goal, you might invest in sales training, work on improving your process, or develop a sales playbook. But it’s easy to forget the most critical driver for sales growth – sales motivation.
You can invest in many areas of sales improvement, but if your team lacks motivation, you’ll struggle to hit your goals.
Here are three signs your team struggles with sales motivation and suggestions for what you can do about it.
Sign #1: You only hit your targets at the last minute – and by giving discounts.
Does this situation sound familiar?
The end of the quarter is coming up, and your team isn’t hitting its target. It might be achievable, but it’s a stretch.
The pressure is on! You’re having daily stand-up meetings. You’re going along with your sales reps as they meet with their key prospects. Your team is offering discounts and end-of-quarter deals.
Maybe you make it, or maybe you don’t. Either way, somehow the same thing happens again the next quarter.
This is a sign that your team lacks consistent sales motivation. They may be able to dial up their activity and focus when the spotlight is shining, but on a random Tuesday afternoon in the first month of the quarter they’re playing solitaire and checking Facebook.
It’s not realistic (or probably healthy) to live in a constant state of alertness, but inconsistent sales motivation that only activates in an extreme situation is not going to drive the right sales results.
If your team is struggling with inconsistent sales motivation, work to provide daily reminders of progress.
A monthly prospecting action plan can help your team members align on their intended monthly results and the activities that will get them there. Weekly goals will help keep them on track on a tactical level. Sales dashboards can show how the team is tracking towards monthly, quarterly, and annual targets, and reviewing these numbers in sales meetings is key.
The goal isn’t to scare your team every week, but to keep them focused daily on what they need to do to be successful. It all goes back to the tortoise and the hare we learned about as kids.
Sign #2: A portion of your team consistently misses quota.
Do you have any persistent “B or C players” on your team? They’re not performing poorly enough to let go, but they never seem to hit their quotas. Or maybe you just lowered expectations for them so they’d hit their targets, but based on other people’s performance you know more is possible.
These people might maintain a pipeline of two or three opportunities, closing them just often enough to seem busy, while other people have pipelines of 15 – 20 deals and are closing something every week.
This is a sign that your team has adjusted its sales motivation to lowered expectations. People have put themselves into a box (sometimes with your help) as a mediocre performer, and they have gotten comfortable there. They maintain just enough sales motivation to stay where they are.
There are a number of ways you can help your team raise its expectations.
One strategy is to partner team members for mentoring and role practicing, making sure to combine people at different levels of performance. Seeing what a top performer does on a day-to-day basis can inspire your middle performers to work harder as they realize it’s not just luck or talent, but hard work that is producing results.
On a similar track, sharing sales success stories can help middle performers see that they could do the same things their higher-performing teammates did to close deals. And the discussion of best practices that accompanies sharing success stories can help everyone improve.
It can be helpful to evaluate your base-level expectations and see if they are driving your team. Evaluating the behavior it takes to be successful, then setting targets to match that activity level, can help you establish expectations. What size of a pipeline is needed to hit a specific annual target? How many meetings does it usually take to close a deal? How many new leads need to be generated to fill the pipeline? This data should be available, and your team should be measured against these standards.
My last suggestion is a bit harder, but it has the potential to drive significant results. When you are coaching your salespeople, consistently encourage them to challenge their lowered expectations. Ask them what else they could be doing, and what they could achieve if they changed their behaviors. This takes time, and your progress isn’t likely to be consistent, but it can drive breakthroughs for your team.
Sign #3: Your team gives up on deals really easily and doesn’t keep following up.
Have you ever heard one of your sales reps say no for a prospect? Maybe they had one or two good meetings, heard an objection, and decided they’d never win the deal. Or the prospect went radio silent, and after one or two attempts to get in touch, they decided the opportunity was dead.
I’m not recommending that you encourage your sales team to keep chasing deals unreasonably, but if your team is giving up too early, it can be a sign that they’ve let head trash sap their sales motivation.
By acting from their head trash, they’re letting some potential opportunities slip through the cracks.
If this is something your team is struggling with, there are a few things you can do.
First of all, coach them to avoid acting from head trash, and call out head trash when you see it. It’s an easy trap to fall into, and it’s something you should always be listening for.
Second, make sure your team is using best practices, like going for no when they experience radio silence and establishing good follow-up habits from the beginning.
Finally, keep an eye on the pipeline and provide an outside perspective when your team seems to be holding onto a bad deal too tightly or giving up too soon. Your insight can help your team avoid giving in to their head trash.
What signs of sales motivation have you noticed, and what strategies do you have to combat them? I’d love to see your thoughts in the comments!
And for a different look at sales motivation, click below for an eBook I wrote about the four dimensions about sales motivation and how you can use them as a manager to inspire your team.