Every business needs a skilled sales team to generate a positive ROI, but on-the-job performance is rarely the product of training alone. In fact, a marketing novice could keep up with an unengaged expert provided they use the right motivation and productivity strategies.
However, it’s much harder to motivate staff than it is to train them. There’s no one size fits all approach to motivational tactics, as every employee is unique and requires wildly different incentives to sell. Understanding these differences will allow you to use your talent effectively.
How Employee Happiness and Productivity Go Hand-in-Hand
Our mood impacts our physical and mental health, but some employers expect their staff to leave their personal thoughts and feelings at the door. However, ignoring our personal problems only makes them worse. If work is a source of their unhappiness, their motivation will tank.
Companies that consider employee happiness will see instant benefits, as happiness promotes workplace success. Happy employees are less likely to leave and more likely to be productive.
An Oxford University Saïd Business School study that looked at productivity in contact centers found that happy workers are 13% more productive than unhappy workers. Participants in the study worked faster, made more calls per hour, and converted more callers into customers.
How to Keep Your Sales Team Happy and Productive
Investing in employee happiness leads to productivity, but how can you make your sales staff more content? Here are 10 ways to increase morale and sales numbers at the same time.
1. Create an Effective Onboarding Process
An effective onboarding process can create a good first impression for your brand, but modern techniques don’t measure up. It’s estimated that 90% of employees decide whether they want to stay with a company within the first six months, and 16.45% actually leave within the first week.
To create an onboarding process that makes your sales team feel welcomed, use all-in-one HR software like GoCo. While tech will streamline the process, don’t forget about the human element. Make sure you introduce hires to the team and leave an open dialog for questions.
2. Encourage a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Salespeople often work long hours. Depending on their role, they may be on-call for the majority of their waking hours, which can be stressful for staff. If you don’t prioritize a healthy work-life balance, your sales department may experience burnout, call in sick more often, or quit entirely.
There will be times when salespeople have to trade their personal time for their job, but don’t encourage this habit. Employees are more productive when they have enough rest. Be sure to check in on them to see if they’ve taken a break and have daily cut-off times for sales calls.
3. Have an “Open-Door” Communication Policy
An open-door communication policy is one of the best things you can do for your business. However, sales staff are often afraid their honesty will backfire and lead to repercussions ranging from social ostracization to being fired. For this reason, you need to earn their trust.
There are a few ways to do this. For one, you can counterbalance blind optimism (“everything is fine, even when it isn’t”) by letting your team know those bad things happen, and it’s okay that they tell you. Express that no one will be fired for expressing themselves or asking questions.
4. Ask Teams How They Want to be Managed
It seems weird to ask your staff how they want to be managed, especially because they may not feel comfortable asking you to change how you do business. But if you're transparent and trustworthy, you’ll receive honest answers about feedback, interaction, and tone preferences.
It’s essential to bring this topic up in private, as they’ll feel less intimidated sharing their thoughts. You should also discuss how you’d want to be approached if your staff is frustrated with something you did. If you’re giving feedback, you have to be open to employee feedback.
5. Use Tools to Eliminate Tedious Tasks
Your sales team loves what they do, but they won’t have the time to speak to clients if they’re spending most of it completing administrative tasks. If you could cut down on the tedium, your sales staff can sell more and increase their commission. A win-win for you and your employees.
To reduce your team’s downtime, purchase software that automates most administrative tasks. Anything that can’t be automated by you can be automated by your sales team using apps and calendars. Finally, hire an administrative assistant if the workload is getting out of control.
6. Get to Know Your Sales Staff Individually
While it’s inappropriate to get involved in your team's personal lives, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t understand their strengths and weaknesses. Your team is made up of multiple unique individuals, and each member will likely underperform in some areas and excel in others.
However, knowing what areas your staff struggles in will allow you to invest in your talent. For example, if one sales staff is good at report building but isn’t great at closing, you can pair them up with an employee who is on sales calls. This helps both people learn something new.
7. Offer Rewards, Feedback, and Understanding
Getting a sale isn’t easy. Not only are people less trusting of sales staff, but inflation also impacts how much a person is willing to spend. You don’t have to make every sale an event. Still, your employees will appreciate a verbal “thank you” when they’ve accomplished a goal.
Big rewards, like trophies, gifts, or bonuses, should be given out after they’ve successfully completed a project. So should feedback, regardless if the project was successful or not. If a team member is falling behind, approach empathically and ask if there are ways you can help.
8. Set Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Goals
Salespeople are often competitive, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s a good idea to encourage some degree of friendly competition. Not between fellow staff members but against the competition. Doing the former could breed resentment across your workforce.
When setting team-based or individual goals, don’t make them so challenging that they’re impossible to meet. Create goals that are realistic and challenging, as you’re more likely to see better results. Monitor team progress and periodically adjust daily, weekly, and monthly goals.
9. Keep Sales Team Up-to-Date With Changes
You must keep your sales team in the loop when it comes to product or service changes, or they may be caught off guard or won’t be able to answer customer questions. This can make your staff feel incompetent, and they’ll likely be angry if their lack of preparedness costs them a sale.
However, it’s 100% the employer's job to supply staff with the latest details, regardless if this information is widely available on the internet. If you’re able to discuss prototypes or new features before they’re released, encourage your team to use this information as a selling point.
10. Pay Commissions and Bonuses Promptly
There’s nothing more frustrating to your sales staff than a commission or bonus delay. If you missed a commission or bonus amount on their check, that could be really demotivating for staff. This problem gets worse if they have to wait until the next payday for a correction.
If you continuously make this mistake, you could suffer legal penalties. Paying bonuses and commissions on time makes sense from several angles. But, most importantly, being paid on time can help your staff plan their finances easier, preventing them from going into debt.
Happiness is the most important motivating factor for your sales team. When your team is happy, productivity is sure to follow. Through an effective onboarding process, realistic goal setting, constructive feedback, and more, you can keep your salespeople happy long-term.