It is easy to spend a small fortune on sales contests and incentive programs designed to motivate, stimulate and reinvigorate the sales team. However, you may have found that such programs meant to motive, can end up having the reverse affect and deflate, berate and de-motivate instead.
Sometimes the problem is not the structure of the contest in itself, but the manner in which you set up the playing ground.
The Starting Line
When designing a competitive sales contest, you have to take into consideration the starting point of each individual sales person. By that, I mean that you have to consider the experience, skills, closing averages and client-base of each sales person to design a contest that is equitable.
If you base the contest purely on bottom-line closed sales, then sales people who have more experience and clients, from whom they can get referrals, have an unfair advantage over newer, less experienced team members.
Over Before It Starts
For many of those less experienced sales people, such a disadvantage can seem insurmountable. When this happens, it creates a situation where some sales team members do not attempt to win or even compete in the contest. In fact, they feel shunned which causes an anti-productive mentality. Simultaneously, due to the lax competition, the top sales people also operate at less than peek performance.
A Handicapping System
Come up with a method to make all sales people equal, for the purposes of the contest. Perhaps you consider the closing averages of each sales person and design the contest so that those with a lower closing percentage can compete.
As an example, for the sales person who has a 20% closing average, perhaps to win or place high in the contest, they have to close 4 sales.
Then, for the sales rep with a higher closing average, like 25%; perhaps he or she must close 5 sales to place in the same bracket.
A Win Win
With such a method, both levels of sales people compete hard, and get better. The sales person with the 20% closing average would have to complete 20 sales presentations or closing attempt to get the 4 sales.
However, the sales person with the higher closing rate of 25% would also have to complete 20 closing attempts!
This creates an incentive for all sales people to put forth a greater effort regardless of their skill level. In addition, it gives the newer sales people an equal opportunity if they work hard enough.
One Step Further
If you decide to use such a system for the long term, then also create a bonus system, award or incentive to give to the sales people who maintain the lowest handicap.
Level the playing field with a handicap system and watch more sales people come in under par!
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As economic conditions begin to rebound and more sales opportunities arise, it may be time to reinvigorate your sales team. Below are two ways to help you motivate the sales team for a new charge. Use this new modern approach to reignite that old-fashioned fire!
A New Approach to Goal Setting
Ok, you set the same standard monthly sales goals, month after month, year after year. Slightly alter this approach by basing goals more on sales activity, than on closed sales.
As an example, you may set a goal to increase the number of proposals sales people generate in a given time period. Or perhaps, you reward team members for doing the most sales presentations. Increasing such sales activities will of course, increase the amount of closed sales.
More Sales Activity Goals
Now continue that course of thinking and address sales actions that help create more sales and maintain a strong work ethic at the same time. For instance, you know that to close more sales, the team needs to make more proposals. To make more proposals, they need to make more appointments. Of course, to make more appointments, the sales team has to make more calls.
Create a sales contest and incentive program that rewards the sales people who make the most calls for the month. Reward the team member who contacts the largest amount of new prospects.
By varying the approach to common sales goals, you can keep the team motivated and focus on maintaining a productive work ethic. Your team can operate with a bullish enthusiasm even in a bearish economy!
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As a sales manager, director or other frontline supervisor of a sales team, you will often have to help sales people correct mistakes. There are times when you absolutely must teach, correct, fix, train or rectify problems and sometimes you will have to reprimand or take disciplinary action.
However, there are some times when you must hold back on the correction in the face of positive growth. Below is an example of one of those critical moments, when you should leave the teaching for later, even if you have to bite your tongue!
After the Big Sale
Here is a sales person who has laboured long and hard, only to face usual disappointment. In spite of constant failure and tremendous rejection, the sales hero perseveres. Finally, she closes a sale; a big one and comes running to you to report the great news.
You immediately notice that she made a couple of mistakes on the contract. While you do need to correct those mistakes, give the sales person a chance to enjoy the success for a moment, first. Allow the feeling of victory to set in before you rip their heart out.
“Look! I finally got one—a big one!”
“That’s great…oh, oh… wait a minute. Nancy, you didn’t mark the delivery method the right way. I told you, you have to make sure to indicate the rush or regular delivery. Plus, I can see you also failed to add the warranty information…”
“Pizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….” as in all of the air being let out of a big beautiful balloon!
In cases like this, and even with lesser victories, just let the sales person know that it was a job well done. Unless the situation calls for some emergency, drastic, life-threatening, immediate action, just give him or her, the old “pat-on-the-back,” and let the problem rest for a little while.
“Congratulations Nancy! I knew you could do it! I told you that if you just hang in there and keep pushing, you would make it happen. I’m proud of you!”
Then, address the other issues later; in private and with a positive attitude.
Manager (Late the following day)
“Now as we submit your big sale from yesterday, Nancy, let’s go over a few things. You did a good job closing the sale, and there are a couple of points I think will help you make even more sales and get things moving even better for you…”
As the sales manager, do not to berate, deflate and humiliate, when you should elevate, congratulate and motivate!
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The sales team works hard. Most put in long hours, study diligently and follow the plan. However, are all doing as well as they can? Are all of your sales people actually working as hard, trying has much and giving it all they have? In short, are they doing their very best?
Below are some effective ways to help you motivate your sales people to do their very best and try their hardest. After all, often the only missing ingredient between success and failure is that last little push.
Money is Not the Prime Motivating Factor
First, find out what it is that truly motivates each sales person. Understand that on the surface, and even to the sales person, that motivator may appear to be the money, but it is not. The sales person who is motivated by money, is really inspired by the things that the money will do for him or her. The person’s desire is the results, lifestyle, power, influence, fun or any number of a thousand things that the money will provide.
Your job is to find out exactly what it is that money provides that powers the sales person, and use it as the proverbial “carrot.”
Uncover Past Feats of Great Inspiration
In attempting to discover what a sales person’s motivating triggers may be, look to a time in his or her past, for a demonstration of great inspiration. Everyone has a story when they persevered through enormous adversity to succeed. Everyone has a story about when they would not stop, would not give up and won against all odds.
Such an experience could have been in a business setting, or something personal like overcoming a health problem, passing a difficult test, getting a degree, pursuing a member of the opposite sex, quitting smoking or learning to swim. Everyone has a situation where they pushed their hardest and succeeded.
You should get to know your sales team on a level more personal than just business. Take an interest in their lives and get to know them. In doing so, uncover one of those great challenges, and see what was the underlying motivation.
Perhaps it was love, or the feeling of power, or being in control. Often, it is recognition and pride. The point is that you want to take those past underlying motivational triggers, and use them today.
As an example, you ask a sales team member to explain the greatest challenge he has ever faced and overcome. The reply is that he trained for years, tried and failed many times, but finally he completed a full marathon race.
You next ask him to explain why he went through so much effort. Why was it so important and what drove him to keep trying? He tells you that it was simply to be able to know that he was capable of doing it.
Obviously, self-satisfaction and inner pride are driving issues for this sales person. You then use such ideas during your personal motivating meetings with this sales person.
“You know Steve, it is extremely tough and may take a lot of tries to do it, but if you can hit 45 sales in one month, you can take pride in knowing that you are the first person to ever reach that goal in the first year with the firm.”
Perhaps the marathon runner’s answer was that she wanted to prove all of those people wrong who said that she could never do it.
“Sarah, if you could close 45 sales this month, you will prove me and other managers wrong…”
Do It Again
Please understand, I am not talking about trying to manipulate people nor am I suggesting some psychological mind games. I am simply suggesting that you find what motivating factors led someone to overcome great obstacles in the past, and use those same factors in the present. In fact, do this to and for yourself!
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So, we’re at the end of the first quarter of the year…hasn’t it just flown by? I trust things have been good for you, and you’re enjoying your selling?
This is a good time to identify what you’ve done recently in your sales portfolio and what you can look forward to in the coming months. Here are some very effective questions to help you identify how well you are doing and to take stock of how well you’re geared up for the next quarter:
1. How well are you doing year-to-date versus your target? Are you getting near to or exceeding the goals you originally set?
2. If things carry on as they are going, how will your figures be looking at the end of the second quarter?
3. What can you specifically do today that will have an impact on how you are going to do in the next quarter?
4. Are there any new strategies, ideas, plans or actions that you can put into operation to affect your next quarter’s performance in a positive way?
You don’t need me to tell you that you are either below, on, or exceeding your target.
If you are behind, analyse what you can do to get rid of the obstacles that are hindering your progress.
If you are on target, congratulate yourself, then identify what you need to do to keep the momentum going.
If you are ahead of target, decide what you did right and what you can do to keep your foot firmly on the accelerator.
Don’t take your eye off the ball. Now is not the time to slow down. Keep your motivation high and you’ll see your figures rise during this next quarter.
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