3 ways to stoke your sales team’s motivation

Features - Management

Look for ways beyond commission to help your staff sell more.

January 4, 2017

Motivating employees: It’s always tough in any business.

Your goal is to be the go-to name in your field or industry, but you know you haven’t got a snowball’s chance in hell of seeing that level of success unless you can truly engage your customers and clients, and keep them interested in your products and services.

The only way to do that is to get your employees to engage those customers, to get them to commit to creating an exceptional experience for visitors so they do business with you instead of buying from a competitor.

The big question is: How do you get your sales team to focus on the customer?

Employee motivation is an elusive creature. For some companies, this challenge is settled by simple performance metrics: dollars. You close X number of sales, you get more money in your paycheck. And in many high-end sales environments, a commission or performance bonus-incentive sales metric makes sense.

But if you find yourself in a position where commission-based sales don’t work for your company, you still have to find new ways to motivate your sales team.

Here are three ideas to help incentivize your associates that don’t involve paying them based on the number of units they move.

1. Give them luxury.

For your best-performing associates, it is great to give them a little bit of something special. Maybe it’s a box of especially good chocolates at the end of a hard week. Maybe it’s a bottle of Scandinavian water they weren’t expecting. Maybe it’s a 30-minute massage.

Maybe it’s just a handwritten thank you note from you, the boss, who they look up to, mailed to their house.

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what the luxury is. It only matters that you took the time to think of them and thank them for their amazing work in an impromptu fashion.

If you have good people on your team, make them feel important, and they are more likely to stay on your team.

2. Give them time.

Time is our most precious resource, and there is no sweeter way to reward one of your sales team than to give them a few hours of their time back.

So for your top performer this month, give them a half or full extra day off — with pay. Just let this person stay home, sleep late, take care of their kids or go to a movie while you cover their shift. Don’t make a big deal about it. It’s not a contest; it’s a gift that you are giving them. When they come back, they will be refreshed.

3. Give them space.

If you’ve seen the movie “Office Space,” then you understand the importance of a red stapler. It represents something that is yours. Even if it’s only a stapler, you have earned it.

An office space can feel very much the same. It is home. When you designate physical space to an employee, you are telling that person that they have a place here. A permanent place. They matter.

For your best associates, carve out a place in the back to set their photos of their kids and their dogs, a place for them to pin ridiculous things they might print out from Facebook — whatever. The ultimate goal is to let employees feel at home when they are at work.

This only works if you hire people who themselves have some internal motivation. You can’t motivate a rock to move — no matter what you try. If you feel stuck with certain unmotivated employees, don’t give up on motivation, but do get rid of the rock-like employees.

When you have done the hard job of whittling down your applicants, onboarding them to your culture and giving them sales training, your No. 1 job is to see what helps them stay motivated and change it up often. That way it keeps everyone wondering what they will get for hitting a goal, doing a good job or extending themselves for your customers’ benefit.

Bob is a sales consultant and has helped thousands of businesses since 1994.