Perhaps you’re a small business whose financial resources are limited. Or maybe you’ve spent your budget for sales contests. You might simply want to know more about cost-effective, free ways to motivate your sales team. No matter what category you fall under, we have some great advice for you – five tips to help motivate your sales reps without dipping into the company coffers. Many of them have additional benefits beyond the primary result of motivation.
- Track client success stories or have clients meet your reps.
One of the most unrealized motivating factors for sales reps is having a sense of purpose in their jobs. As reported by Inc., a Gallup poll found that organizations with low employee engagement have 18% lower productivity, and the 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey discovered 60% of millennials say a sense of purpose is a key factor in selecting their employer.
Tracking and sharing client successes caused by the utilization of your products and services is an excellent way to tangibly illustrate that there’s a purpose behind sales reps doing what they do – especially if customers are able to talk directly to your team. Your sales reps will then see the real, actual effects and value of what you’re selling and have renewed belief in their products. An added bonus: Team members can then collect real-life testimonials and examples to use in speaking directly to prospects about how your solution worked at fixing a problem for other clients, which is a powerful persuasion tactic.
- Make one-on-one mentoring the prize of a sales contest.
On the show Hell’s Kitchen, many contestants say one of the best rewards for winning a cooking challenge is when they’re able to talk one on one or in small groups with world-renowned chef Gordon Ramsay in an informal meal setting. If you have an ambitious team that hungers for that type of leadership and learning opportunity, offering mentorship as a sales contest prize can be more inspiring than any cash reward.
What might be even more effective, if they’re willing to do it, is to have the mentorship session with the CEO or leader of your organization. Having that prize is not only a major deal to many reps because of access to leadership they might not otherwise have, it’s an opportunity for the leader to share appropriate insights to the larger company strategy and direction. This information imparting creates more investment and buy-in into the company by the sales rep, which also can address the sense of purpose.
- Conversely, make yourself an assistant as the prize.
On the other end of the spectrum is devising a sales contest where the prize is you as the winning rep’s personal assistant for an hour or two. In that capacity, you’ll handle whatever work-related tasks the rep wants you to do – whether it’s cold-calling leads, sorting through the morass of email, delivering a presentation – any aspect of the job the sales rep considers a source of drudgery. This is a fun, satisfying experience for the rep to play boss for a short time and frees them up to work on action items of greater interest.
Three other possible benefits of this idea: 1) your sales team will see that you’re willing to work in the trenches yourself, which is important for establishing trust and camaraderie; 2) depending on your assignment, it’s an opportunity for you to model best practices for reps (for example, in cold-calling or in presentations); and 3) working on less interesting tasks not only keeps you sharp for what your reps experience on a daily basis, it can give you insight to problems that might need addressing or other ways to improve reps’ workflow or environment.
- Ask sales reps how they would like to be managed.
We’ve written elsewhere about how a one size fits all approach is a common sales coaching error, due to the differences in people’s personalities and motivations. One of the best ways to not only make your leadership more effective but more motivating is to ask your reps directly how they’d liked to be managed.
That can include asking questions like whether they respond better to praise or criticism (you’d be surprised how many people prefer the latter), whether they prefer public or private feedback, how frequently they’d like to meet with you, and how to communicate if issues come up (via email/text, in a one-on-one, or some other method). In this way, you can adapt your managing and coaching to best fit the needs of every individual on your team.
- Consider giving your sales team more autonomy.
The extent to which you can do this one is going to vary widely depending on your company culture and your sales team. But at the very least, you should look into ways of giving autonomy to your sales reps. Whether that’s things like flexible scheduling, fewer meetings, telecommuting, sales reps setting their own goals and metrics, or something else entirely, the key takeaway is to give your direct reports more freedom.
Not only does this tactic give sales reps a sense of ownership in their jobs (they’re able to call some of the shots), it shows that you trust your team to do their work in the way that’s best for them and their quality of life. That type of flexibility and less micromanagement is empowering for sales reps and has the additional bonus of boosting loyalty in addition to increasing their motivation and productivity.
Motivating your sales team without having to lay out cash is an ideal situation in any business environment, but in forecasted tight financial times, it becomes an even more valuable policy to pursue. These five strategies not only provide that ideal, but also give your sales reps intangible, quality of life benefits that will increase their buy-in and loyalty to the company. And that type of value far exceeds monetary benefits that create few lasting memories and don’t address other key factors in sustaining a happy, high-morale work environment.