Even during “normal times,” sales teams go hard. Of course, since 2020, we have not lived in “normal times.” The 2-year (and still going) pandemic, coupled with ongoing global unrest, has changed the collective idea of normal for the long term. And it has changed how businesses do business and how sellers close deals. Which is why now is a good time to take a moment to consider what your sales team may need in this “new normal.” Here we offer a few ideas:
- Establish a destination
What does success look like for your team, both in the long and short term? Is it a specific churn rate? A specific revenue growth rate? A compensation goal? Whatever it may be, be specific with yourself and your team. Moreover, consider this: Let them know the “where,” not necessarily the “how.” Meaning: explain to them where you want the team to collectively go and what you intend for them to achieve, but not necessarily the specifics on how they should get there. A team overburdened with “the how” can become easily demoralized versus a team given the personal autonomy to make their own choices around how they’re arrive at the destination you’ve laid out.
- Set clear incentives
This seems obvious, however often organizations think they’re being clear about incentives, though over time, can devolve into euphemisms or vague promises. Review your current incentive plan critically and consider where there may be an opportunity for inference amongst your team rather than clarity. Make sure the particulars of compensation are clearly detailed and posted in a place where team members can easily reference them.
- Set clever incentives
Back in 2012, a group of researchers from the University of Houston and the University of Virginia noted that incentivizing your sales team based on their rank led companies to realize greater revenue. For instance, laggards were given given quarterly bonuses while rainmakers had no compensation caps. Moreover, they discovered that increasing tier-based compensation yielded even greater results. You, of course, know your workforce better than anyone, but fundamentally, offering more customized incentive options seems to be a boon.
- Establish team norms – and stick to them
Invite your team to collaborate on building and codifying a set of team norms. These norms should tie back to company values and mission, but they should also be personal to your team and their role within the business. Discussing these norms – and even disagreeing over them – can motivate tired team members as it reestablishes a performance and collaborative baseline for them while also helping them directly connect with other colleagues in the process. This can help your team get “on mission.”
- Hold yourself accountable
Not only should you, as team leader, internalize and model those established norms, but you should frequently reflect on your success. And when you make a mistake, you should be quick to acknowledge it in front of your team. As you hold yourself accountable, your team is more likely to hold themselves accountable.
- Facilitate and enable a cleaner, clearer sales process
Audit your sales processes. Where can things be improved? This may mean establishing regular meetings with your marketing team or troubleshooting billing challenges with your accounts receivable team. It may mean that you need to rethink an internal sales process or purchase new tools so your team and optimize their workflows. Whatever changes you make should be clearly and repeatedly communicated to the team so that everyone understands where / how obstacles to their success are being cleared.
- Communicate early and often
What this means practically: When you know something, share it with your team – even if there are remaining unknowns. And reshare it in email, on message boards, and in meetings frequently. Invite your team to ask questions and provide input, where possible. Don’t assume that everyone will properly absorb the information you shared the first time. And, most importantly, listen. A lot. What this doesn’t necessarily mean: Setting up more meetings or adding more procedural steps to an already overburdened team.
- Say you’re appreciative
In the spirit of going back to basics, say thank you. It seems obvious, but in the hustle and bustle of a busy work day, leaders often assume that their team implicitly understands their appreciation. This is simply untrue. Your words have power, particularly in management roles. And “thank you” is particularly powerful. When you thank them, also take the time to be explicit about what you’re thanking them for whether it’s a particularly thoughtful response to a challenging client or they’re support in helping a colleague solve a problem or because they’re routinely prompt and prepared for meetings. And a friendly reminder: a paycheck
- Show you’re appreciative
“Show [them] the money!” – Rod Tidwell in Jerry Maguire … sort of. This ties back to clear and clever compensation above, but fundamentally, if someone is doing good work, make it tangible. This may mean a larger bonus payment, but it can also take on other forms – gift cards, celebratory meals, extra time off, increased visibility within the org, etc. Moreover, encourage your team to show their appreciation for each other.
- Rest isn’t a four-letter word
Again, sales teams go hard. They’re built for action. But encouraging and enabling your team to find times to rest and reflect can yield greater long-term results. Don’t be afraid to send your team home early on a Friday or give them extra PTO or bring in a massage therapist for an afternoon. Allowing folks to “turn off” for a bit allows them to recharge and show back up ready to win again.
AutoPylot may not be able to solve the motivation gap in total, but it can make the jobs of hard-working teams easier by freeing them of obnoxious administrative tasks. Contact us to learn how we can help clear obstacles to your team’s success.