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 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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No matter how long you have been in sales, you will inevitably experience the ups and downs of the business world and create opportunities from them or suffer from the pain of lost sales. It would be wonderful to always maintain a high profile with all your customers, and be on top of your game at all times.
But what about the times when things don’t go according to plan? What can you do when you suffer from those bleak periods, when the sales just don’t happen and you fall into that stupor called the doldrums?
Here are some tips on how to deal with them.
1) Remember that “this too shall pass”. By focusing too much on what is going wrong, you will simply attract more of it. Don’t allow it to become the be-all-and-end-all of your days. Remember that it is simply a phase you are going through and, as inexorably as day follows night, if you get back on track, you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.
2) Remember back to when things were going well. You had a process to follow, a strategy to maintain, an attitude to keep up. By remembering what those processes were, what those strategies included and what that attitude consisted of, you can determine the plan of action that needs to be followed to get back there.
3) Concentrate on what you can control, rather than being at the mercy of what you can’t. It’s easy to blame the economy or the competition or your product for things looking bleak. But what you need to do specifically at this time is identify exactly what you can control and influence, and work on those things only. By moaning or whining about what you can’t control, you simply hand over responsibility for your emotions and feelings to an external force that you can’t do anything about.
Even the doldrums can be left behind if you concentrate on the actions that need to be taken to break free. Create those goals in your mind that will encourage you, and become once again the quality salesperson you know you can be.
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