by Ryan Moore, Director of Client Management, Peak Sales Recruiting
Is your sales team buzzing with great morale, cheerful attitudes, and 100% effort toward meeting all their goals and KPIs? Chances are the answer to that question is “no” — at least, not all the time.
Sales is a rigorous occupation full of difficult challenges and stress-inducing interactions, even when everyone is meeting their numbers. Sometimes, that stress builds into a morale slump, which, if left unchecked, can lead to:
- Lost productivity and work time
- Decreased productivity
- Longer sales cycle
- Ultimately, even burnout and high turnover
How do you know if your sales team is in need of a morale boost? Look for any of the following:
Contagious complaining: One person seems like they’re having a tough run, and the next thing you know, the entire team is joining in.
Increased absenteeism: When employees start to feel their environment is oppressive, they often cope by staying out of that environment altogether.
A depressed (or depressive) environment: Sometimes, you can almost literally feel the mood darken throughout the office.
At Peak Sales Recruiting, we have helped B2B sales leaders hire A-Players for many years. In that time, we have amassed proven proactive steps you can take to turn the morale slide around and create a happier, more engaged sales workforce. Try these four strategies to help your salespeople improve morale and increase productivity.
1. Cut the fat.
For many managers and executives, nothing is more unpleasant than terminating someone’s employment. The unfortunate reality is that, in some cases, no amount of training will produce the improvement you need to see in someone. Retaining chronically underperforming agents on your sales team can negatively impact the morale of the team as a whole, since other members will have to pick up that person’s slack. This can lead to your top salespeople feeling taken advantage of or resentful of their colleagues or management team.
Another area where you can trim the fat is with unproductive workflows and tasks. Unnecessary tasks have a way of becoming drudge work that drains morale. Identify those tasks and cull the ones that waste time and show little return. Then investigate whether new tools might help streamline existing processes that need to be tightened up.
2. Positively reinforce success.
Recognizing good work and praising employees for a job well done is crucial, especially for sales reps, whose performances are measured by the numbers.
Cash bonuses and other financial rewards can work for many sales agents, but they’re not the only means of positive reinforcement, nor are they even necessarily the best ways to reward your salespeople. Look for other concrete ways to publicly recognize and show appreciation for the hard work of your team members.
While huge wins may be worthy of big celebrations, don’t forget about all the small steps along the way. You can give a proverbial pat on the back and a small incentive for many other positive achievements, such as improvement toward reaching KPIs, skills training, or other demonstrated progress toward a goal.
3. Provide constructive feedback.
Just as it’s imperative to recognize your salespeople when they succeed, it’s also crucial to provide constructive criticism when they fall short. This is true for underperformers, of course, but it also helps successful sales reps achieve even greater success.
Give the team, as well as individual team members, specific goals to strive for beyond sales targets. That goal could be anything from a specific incentive to a possible promotion, as well as less tangible achievements, like maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction throughout the lead acquisition and sales process.
In the case of agents who are falling short of those goals, consider creating and implementing a performance improvement plan (PIP) policy. This approach helps underperforming sales agents recognize their strengths and challenges and draws them into the process of taking concrete action to achieve better results.
4. Lead by example.
One of the most effective ways to improve morale in a work environment is to model the behavior you want to see in your sales team members. One easy way you can do this by exhibiting a more positive and upbeat mood during team meetings and conversations. Conversely, you can also openly recognize how difficult sales can be, and how hard it is sometimes to hold on to that positive outlook. Sometimes, simply acknowledging the challenge is enough to help your salespeople exhale and destress a bit, which can then make strides toward creating a more productive atmosphere.
Deal with team members as individuals to find out what motivates each person, and implement those incentives when you can. Most people aren’t driven by their regular paychecks. It takes more to get them amped up enough to strive for “reach” goals. Moreover, what motivates one member of your sales team may have no impact on her coworker. As the leader of that team, you have to treat each member as an individual and figure out what motivates each specific person.
Lastly, go beyond the transactional nature of goal setting and motivation to find out what could make the office more enjoyable for your sales team, and then incorporate those measures where possible. There’s always something you can do to lighten the atmosphere and improve morale, whether it’s music, paid lunches, team outings, more frequent or longer breaks, flexibility surrounding hours or remote working, or other perks.
By implementing these strategies, you can halt and even turn around a flagging group morale. Keep in mind that what works for one company or even one specific salesperson may not work as well for the next. Stay open to moderating your approach depending on the circumstances.
Above all, remember your salespeople are human beings with complex motivations, fears, and challenges. The most effective morale-boosting strategy is the one that helps them fulfill their potential, as individuals and as a team.
Ryan Moore has two decades of experience in sales and executive talent acquisition. Currently, he serves as the Director of Client Management at Peak Sales Recruiting, North America’s leading sales recruitment firm. He plays a key role in the organization’s success and has helped world-class companies like Gartner, P&G, Pioneer, and SevOne build their sales teams.