B2B sales is a fast paced and often cut-throat world, driven by targets and results. For many sales reps, it is the ‘buzz’ that keeps them coming back each day - the thrill of the chase and successfully turning a lead into a paying customer. (Not to mention the splash of healthy competition that often exists within sales teams).
When the going is good, the B2B sales environment can be an amazing place to be, but it can also be super tough when things don’t go as planned. So, it’s no surprise that sales is an industry that experiences a high churn rate.
There’s a real risk of burn out, or reps simply wishing to escape the high-pressure, high-stress environment, so team dynamics, training and support is really important.
Finding success in sales is basically about three things – ambition, persistence and empathy. You need to aim high, never give up and be able to step into the shoes of a prospect to deliver what they truly want and need.
For any business, a top-class sales rep will be worth their weight in gold. They can be crucial for generating revenue and securing the future of the company. Keeping hold of such talent is no mean feat and will come down to more than just the wage package and other financial incentives on offer.
Recruiting sales people takes a lot of effort. If you have a high churn rate and are constantly looking for new people, then you’re likely to be wasting lots of time finding, training and embedding them within the culture of the organization.
Even if you find a good person, it won’t be an instant fix. Hitting the ground running is a nice idea in theory, but even the most experienced sales rep needs time to build a strong pipeline and get it moving along effectively. Any pipeline is only as good as the relationships it is based on, and you can’t do that overnight.
But the real secret behind sales success is energy. It is positive energy that will not only make your company an enjoyable place to work, but will come across in any sales conversations and ultimately help you land more deals. However, keeping energy levels high and maintaining momentum can sometimes prove a challenge.
There are many reasons why morale may drop. It could be as simple as the team being stuck in a rut, or having fallen into a pattern of negative behavior.
To help you break through the wall, here we’ve pulled together some strategies for getting positivity back on track.
1. Check that goals are SMART - Yes, encourage people to be ambitious but know that nothing is going to demotivate a team as fast as impossible targets. Check that any goals you are setting are Specific – Measurable – Attainable – Realistic – T
2. Embrace difference – Recognise that different people work in different ways and will respond to different things. If you understand what makes people tick and what may be impacting on their performance, then you can cultivate a working environment that supports each individual to achieve their full potential.
3. Ask for feedback – One of the easiest but often overlooked steps you can take is to talk to the team. Ask for their feedback – anonymously if they prefer - on what would make their jobs easier. Are there any tools, such as IP tracking software, that it would be worth trialling? What are their pinch points and annoyances? Importantly, you need to demonstrate that the feedback has been taken on board and actioned wherever possible. If it can’t be acted on, then share the reasons why and whether that may change in the future. The worse thing you can do is instantly discount anyone’s views.
4. Recognise how you’re impacting on those around you - As a manager of a sales team you’ll need to wear many hats at any one time, from being the boss and an authority figure one minute, to a coach the next. Your behavior is, therefore, likely to have a significant impact on all those around you. Recognise your own strengths and weaknesses and what outside factors may be influencing you, then how you may be influencing others.
Also, remember that tasks such as performance reviews and employee assessments are going to be of high importance to the person in question. Even if you’re short on time, don’t keep putting them off and letting other tasks constantly bump them down your to-do list. This will only make the person feel undervalued and morale could drop further.
In order to lead your team to success, it is important that you understand your own management style and know how to learn from expriences and improve your performance as a manager. Find out what type of manager you are with our free guide below.
5. Have a culture of transparency - The best way to engage and motivate a sales team is to promote a culture of transparency. Make sure everyone knows what they are working towards and why. Help them understand where they fit within the bigger picture – spending a day in another department can be helpful here. The more engaged and positive your sales reps are, the more likely they are to succeed.
Another benefit of transparency is that problems are more likely to be raised early on, which means they can be addressed sooner. This helps prevent potential escalation.
6. Shock your team to break the cycle - If you’ve had a bad week and the atmosphere is very negative, then do something different that will quickly shock the team back on track. Pulling everyone together for a motivational speech (or ticking off) is one thing, but why not go for the element of surprise. Mix it up by changing the setting, or doing some totally random activity together that will help everyone blow off some steam and recharge their batteries.
7. Set out a clear career path - Motivate team members by giving them a reason to work hard that goes beyond their immediate financial rewards and pay package. Encourage them to constantly be learning new things and trying new strategies. Make sure they are properly trained on all available tools and systems and that they are confident in using them to the full. Even the most proficient user can often benefit from a refresher and technology is also developing all the time, so functions may be enhanced since they last received training.
8. Give praise where it’s due – Assess how you currently celebrate wins - both big and small. Praise shouldn’t just be reserved for landing new contracts. If someone handles an awkward conversation well, creates a lead from a surprising situation, or has taken a positive in some other way, then show your appreciation. It may seem a small thing to you, but could be a big deal for the individual.
9. Remember, all work and no play…Make sure you also encourage the team to get to know each other better outside of the work setting. Social activities can be a great team building exercise, as well as a chance to unwind, which can be just as important for recharging the energy levels.
Other issues to consider:
- Is your existing sales structure right?
Think about your current sales structure. Is it right for your type of business and what you’re trying to achieve? The sales team you need when you’re a start-up will be very different to the one you require further down the line. Recognise what changes you need to make to ensure your sales structure is the optimal size and structure to attain your business goals. This will improve both performance and your results in the long run.
- Are you recruiting the type of sales people you really need?
There are many different selling styles. Look at the team you have together and assess where there may be gaps, or improvements could be made. Having the best mix of sales people is key for the ongoing success of your business. Think whether you need more lone wolf types who can pull in the business, or an informant type who can successfully deliver facts and figures to a client.
Check out this blog for more advice on recruiting the strongest team: What does your perfect sales team look like?