By Adam Hartshorne, Business Development Manager at Coffee Central
People often compare sales teams to sports teams and with good reason. No matter which sport, the manager will evaluate the talent of team members and see who’s best fit to each roles. In both sports and sales, the goal is to win and secure success for your team.
As many sales managers know however, hitting KPIs isn’t always enough to galvanise your sales team to achieve their daily targets. The key to managing an effective sales team is tapping into their ambition, energy and potential by motivating them in more ways than just commission or bonuses. Without being able to maintain a consistent level of positive employee morale, you might be faced with a group that cannot deliver.
Here are my 4 top tips on how to structure an effective sales team:
1. Lead from the back, not the front
Arguably nothing lowers your sales reps’ motivation more than if they are feeling like small cogs in a massive machine. When you are managing a sales team of varying ages, you often find the older reps resentful of having to follow textbook rules and instructions whilst younger reps begrudge being trapped in “the system”.
In order to create a successful sales team then, managers must lead by example rather than giving non-stop orders and instructions to meet their targets. This is especially important in the probationary period of new sales reps. Being able to demonstrate to new employees that managers are capable of performing their role will calm their nerves and make managers seem more relatable.
2. Consistent training equals consistent growth
Training should not just be a one-off affair at the beginning of a new sales rep’s career to be forgotten next month. The best way to attain steady growth alongside a smooth running sales team is by providing regular training and coaching. When coaching your team on how to perfect their sales pitches and customer service skills, it is also important to give them autonomy to feel empowered to add their own personality to what they’re doing. Rotating between traditional training sessions with 1-2-1 coaching helps tap into each individual’s potential for professional development and acts as one of the best ways to avoid stagnating.
3. Money isn’t the only motivator
Whether your team are paid in commission or bonuses, a bit of extra money in their pay slip isn’t always enough to motivate your sales team to perform at the best of their capabilities, especially if they do not feel confident in their ability due to insufficient training. Incentives should be varying and exciting in order to structure an effective sales team. Incentives then may include concerts and sports tickets, nights out or allowing reps who have already hit their weekly target to leave work early on Friday. The key here is to mix commission and bonuses with immediate gratification and rewards to keep your sales team motivated.
4. Create emotional contracts with your team
Whilst all of my tips have been so far based on what managers can do to obtain a great sales team, it is important to get your employees to hold themselves accountable for their work and actions. If you aren’t familiar with psychological or emotional contracts, they represent mutual expectations and obligations between an employer and an employee. It is important to create emotional contracts when hiring new sales reps so there is a clear understanding between you and your new employee on what is expected from them and what they can expect from you as their manager. I have found that by reaching an agreement with my sales team, it reinstates the ‘lead from the back’ mentality.
During 1-2-1 meetings with your employees, it is valuable to reach a mutual agreement with each sales rep on what they plan on achieving that week or fortnight. By meeting in the middle with your sales team on their daily targets, it will hold them more accountable to achieving their best and gives you as a manager frequent measurements of their performance on whether they reach the goals they are equally responsible for setting.