5 Essentials to Improving Sales Team Performance

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This article is taken from the Build Your Queue podcast below, Season 2 Episode 14 with Brian Trautschold, co-founder and COO of sales gamification software Ambition.

How do you tackle the challenge of motivating your sales team to not only improve their individual performances, but to improve the performance of your business as a whole?

Success in sales comes down to having a consistent process and understanding what activities are going to lead to growth. To take steps toward achieving this success, you need to ask yourself:

  • How do you create a company culture that fosters sales success?
  • What can you do to motivate your team toward friendly competition?
  • How can you individually coach your reps so they stay on track?
  • How can you celebrate your sales team's progress?
  • How long will it take for you to see results, and what can you do to get the rest of your team on board until you do?

We’ll help you answer these questions, and unpack what it will take to reach your goals. Keep reading, or listen to the full audio in the player above.

PC: Ambition

1. What can you do to motivate your team toward friendly competition?

You want to hit a certain revenue goal, but you can’t just wait until the end of the year and hope a huge deal walks in. You have to put a system in place to make sure you’re actively taking the right steps to end up where you need to be.

Start by writing down the goals you need to meet, then go backward through the sales cycle to figure out how you could reach them following this order:

1. How much revenue do you need?

2. How many deals do you need to close to hit or exceed that number?

3. How many opportunities do you have to create to close those deals?

Having these goals written down and in a place where your team can see them every day has been proven to drastically increase your chances of following through. Writing something down and repeatedly reading it improves your brain's encoding process and ensures you stay on task.

You essentially manifest the success you set out to achieve, but you need to have an accountability plan to keep you on that path.

Have progress check-ins every week as a team to review your goals and see how much closer you’ve gotten to them. You’ll also need individual coaching (but we’ll touch on that more later).

PC: Weekdone

2. What can you do to motivate your team toward friendly competition for that success?

People in sales tend to be naturally competitive, and you want to harness that competitiveness to drive your team toward your bigger business goals. But there’s a balance between doing competition for the sake of it, and doing it because you know it’ll make employees more successful or give them an opportunity for visibility.

You can achieve that balance by creating sales competitions that emphasize fun, are planned around desired sales outcomes, and have prizes that employees get excited about. Celebrate the actions that will lead to success, instead of just the competition itself, like making so many calls in a day, or creating so many opportunities in a week. 

Prizes should either bring the team together to socialize and bond, or they should positively impact their lifestyle. Here are some examples:

  • If the team gets so many sales in a week, the whole office gets free pizza
  • If the team adds so many leads in a month, you’ll order new swag
  • If the team reaches a certain amount of revenue by the end of the year, the entire team gets a higher bonus
  • The top rep gets to pick a billboard and put anything they want on it

Successful sales competitions with prizes like these can boost profits within a specific period of time and encourage collaboration between employees. Celebrate the right steps, not just the end results, and your team will meet your goals.

3. How can you individually coach your reps so they stay on track?

Your company spends a lot of money hiring and training reps, and individual coaching can keep them from leaving. One-on-one coaching shows employees you’re investing time in them, which in turn makes them more likely to put more effort into their work and stay with the company longer

Individual coaching can come in the form of monthly one-on-one performance meetings where employees are encouraged to freely discuss anything they’re struggling with or want to improve upon. You’ll also be able to discuss their performance metrics and positive steps they can take next.

96% of employees say they prefer regular one-on-one performance meetings like these vs. just annual ones.

Just be sure you also allow your reps to talk about personal issues in addition to business ones. Employees who feel like their supervisors are approachable about casual topics are significantly more engaged and willing to stay at their job.

PC: Officevibe

4. How can you celebrate your sales team's progress?

Sales can be a grind, and you need to maintain a motivational atmosphere. There’s no better way to do that than to celebrate your sales team’s successes as they happen.

The key is to do it in a way that doesn’t require employees to toot their own horn. They shouldn't have to brag, the company should celebrate them. Shout outs in company wide emails and verbal words of affirmation from higher ups during meetings are both great and cost effective ways to accomplish this. Words of affirmation like this have been found to be just as important as regular gifts or monetary rewards.

PC: Curiosity at Work

You can also automate your business's internal communication software, like Slack for example, to send out small victory messages when certain goals are met. Then when you get a certain amount of reviews, leads, or sells, a message could trigger letting the entire team know.

Automatic updates are more comfortable for employees who don’t want to pat themselves on the back, and can actually trigger conversations when they’re shared across departments.

It takes this culture of consistent motivation to get people to enjoy working.

5. How long will it take for you to see results, and what can you do to get the rest of your team on board until you do?

Your team will want to get results when you start implementing new motivational tactics, and it’s your job to document them.

But success criteria for how motivated your team is can be abstract in nature (plus take some time to manifest). So how do you measure it?

It will most likely take a full sales cycle for the rewards from a motivational environment to manifest, and you need to have KPIs, or key performance indicators, in place to track them once they do appear.

The KPI you will want to hone in on the most will be productivity.

You can measure productivity by dividing your company’s total revenue for a specific period of time by the total number of employees (barring your average deal value stays constant). If that number increases over the next period, you’ll know that productivity has increased.

Take the first steps toward improving your sales team.

The more successful your sales team is, the more successful your business is. But the first step to getting your reps to succeed is recognizing the gaps keeping them from reaching their goals.

Sales reps need to know what’s expected of them, what they need to do to reach those expectations, and then receive nudges to actually do it.

These are all things that need to happen from day one as you’re hiring and onboarding your reps.

Related: 9 Steps to Get First-time Sales Reps Up to Speed ASAP