By Nathan Sharpe

Motivation is very important to the success of every sales team. When team members are demotivated, it can be very challenging for them to reach their targets. This not only affects their performance, but the entire organization as well. For a small business, this can have a huge negative impact on its bottom line. If you are a business owner, it is then highly critical for you to know how to deal with these types of situations.

Drumming up motivation among sales team members is not an easy task. Each employee may have a different reason that’s causing a lack of motivation. While the inability to reach targets is often the cause of being demotivated, other outside factors may be adding to the problem. It can be dissatisfaction with work, boredom, lack of recognition or even personal issues like family or health-related matters.

However, certain techniques can be applied to drive your employees to perform better.

Communicate solutions instead of dwelling on past shortcomings.

Communication is very important in any part of a business and often, it is the key to resolving many organizational issues. However, many business owners are often hesitant to openly discuss concerns with team members because they fear that it will only demotivate the team further. It’s not uncommon for bosses to just keep quiet and pretend nothing is wrong, only for employees to be surprised that there is an issue when the time for annual reviews take place.

If you fail to effectively communicate with team members, this can be more damaging to the team’s morale. Avoiding the issue will only make the situation worse. Be honest and communicate with the team rather than just ignoring the obvious gaps.

Instead of waiting for the annual review, schedule more frequent meetings like quarterly performance reviews. Performing reviews throughout the year will allow you to mentor your staff and also set mini-milestones to remind them of their shared and individual goals.

When discussing points with team members, focus on the future instead of the past. While it may be helpful to find out the cause of the problem, don’t speak in a way that the employee will feel blamed or lectured. Instead, redirect the bulk of the discussion to potential solutions that can improve performance. Set clear expectations but at the same time, make sure that the goals are measurable and achievable.

Offer valuable, personalized incentives.

Giving out performance incentives is one of the tried and tested ways to motivate team members. But what many managers and business owners often tend to overlook is that what may be important for one person can be totally useless for another person.

For example, cash bonuses are often given out when employees reach their targets but money may not always be the driving factor all the time. Instead of offering a uniform incentive applicable to everyone, why not try asking the employees what they actually want? Instead of thinking of flashy incentives, getting the answer directly from employees on what will motivate them may be the simplest way to solve the problem.

Some employees may want flexible time or an extra day off in place of cash, while others may prefer other benefits in kind.  Making incentives personalized may require an extra effort for the company but the results will be worth it. According to research, 59% of employees prefer personalized benefits to motivate them in staying with a company. This is because when employees are consulted, they feel that the company is listening to them and values their personal insights.

Aside from their expected incentives, reward team members with perks that do not need to be expensive but can still give them excitement and motivate them. For example, when a sales target is reached, an unexpected but nice gesture like maybe bringing donuts for everyone or treating them to a posh dinner may help in making them feel more appreciated. 

Give the team time to breathe.

The natural reaction for managers when their team is not doing well is to micromanage and closely monitor every employee. The tendency is to become strict about attendance, lunch hour, and even time spent away from the employees’ desks. Scare tactics of getting fired or being penalized are also often employed in the hopes of pushing the team to perform better.

While there is nothing wrong with always being on top of everything and making sure each employee is working productively, treating them like they are not to be trusted will only have a negative effect. When team members start feeling that there is a lack of trust, they will not be inspired to work harder. This may even push them to look elsewhere for other career opportunities.

Don’t penalize team members for taking mini-breaks and accuse them of slacking off. Believe it or not, it may be more beneficial for the company when employees take frequent small breaks.

According to studies, office coffee breaks can really help in boosting company productivity because these breaks allow employees to recharge and become more alert so they can focus on their tasks better.

Instead of putting unreasonable pressure on the team, encourage team-building efforts to rebuild trust and for the employees to bond with one another. This will prevent conflicts and foster better relationships among team members.

Recognize small successes.

Being in a sales role can be very demanding and stressful. When sales executives feel that their efforts are not being recognized, this can easily have a snowball effect. Team members can start resenting their managers and the job itself, affecting their work and productivity.

This can be avoided by nurturing a culture of recognition in the team. Reward people not only by offering their anticipated incentives but also by verbally recognizing their efforts. According to Doctor Bob Nelson, who is known as the “Guru of Thank You” and expert on employee motivation, while money is a motivator, it is not the only thing that motivates employees. Nelson said that the best motivator today actually costs nothing and that is recognizing your employees immediately when they do a great job.

Don’t be selfish in giving due recognition to people who deserve it. Sometimes a simple acknowledgment of a job well done is enough to push a person to work harder. Saying “Good Job” or “Thanks for the great work” will not cost the company extra so why not say it often?

This practice should not only apply to major achievements but even to small wins. Did they reach their daily targets? Say congratulations. Was the performance better today than yesterday? Tell them that their hard work is appreciated. These words of praise and gestures will make the employees realize that their daily grind is not for naught which can encourage them to work better the next day.

It’s not too late to motivate.

For salespeople to be effective in their jobs, they have to give their 101% in selling the product. They need to have that evident drive to convince customers and continuously work towards their sales targets. However, if they are demotivated, it can be difficult to achieve this.

There is no shortcut in building a motivated team. It requires continuous effort and constant mentoring to ensure that team members are still excited and focused on their work. While motivating a deflated sales team is a challenging task, it is not an impossible one. Applying these techniques could help business owners create a workplace culture where people are inspired to work.

Author bio

Nathan is a business advisor and business writer at business blog Biznas. He has helped many clients solve their business problems, and now imparts his advisory knowledge onto others to help them improve their businesses too.