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Motivation is a tricky skill to master as a sales manager, especially with a team vying for rewards. Salespeople tend to be highly competitive and what may be an effective motivational sales coaching technique for one employee can backfire with other team members.
Picture a common scenario for sales organizations. Perhaps, you need a boost in motivation for your team. You come up with a contest in an effort to boost morale and team productivity to reach your monthly sales target. Winning is simple; the salesperson who closes the most deals, wins.
As the month closes you have a close race, but there is a winner on your team who sold more than anyone else, which was the criteria you spelled out. First, reflect on how hard each member of your team pushed in a close race. How does the number 2 and 3 finisher feel? They feel dejected. Or what about the previous month's high selling employee? Was this contest in play? They did their job and may not have received a reward.
The reward was a good idea to get your team motivated to sell, but it also puts a damper on the efforts of your other team members, whose exertions become overshadowed. This form of compensation can drastically alter the dynamics between your top performers, leaving unspoken resentment in the air. The period following can also prove to be discouraging because they experienced a lack of recognition for their efforts, not only affecting the individual salesperson, but the team and their sales numbers as a whole.
Furthermore, it sets a team precedent that demotivates any mundane or lacklustre course of work. You trained your team for a contest or reward; a short-term goal. Thus, compensation for an effective work ethic can become a necessary cycle. This can be observed in the immediate days after a contest, where the motivation to produce sales can drop precipitously. This can be true for those previously rewarded as well. They did not win and this affects their emotions as well as their output.
It is a tough situation to get out of once short term rewards and recognition are put in play. By nature, salespeople will now only perform at the top of their game if a new reward is at stake. No reward means minimal efforts and no recognition means little commitment. Their efforts have been tied to a short-term goal which creates near-sightedness towards any long-term productivity commitment.
So what can you do to keep from the short-term reward psychology and maintain a sustainable long-term sales efficiency? Consider sales management techniques such as reinforcing intrinsic behaviours instead of external rewards.
When you see someone doing something right, verbally and openly commend them. Make it known that you appreciated their professionalism and how they handled a difficult prospect. Or you can commend a person on how they log their call records systematically and completely.
Look for varying types of activities and behaviours that reinforce your overall team culture. After a great month, treat your entire team to a lunch and talk about the biggest deals and best efforts of the last few weeks. Again, be specific and focus on actions and behaviours that point to culture, or what is desired. Make the rounds and be sure to commend everyone in an individual way as well, to create encouragement and keep motivation elevated.
Maintaining motivation is an art form in many ways. You have to stay clued into your team member’s individuality while accomplishing a team goal. If you can avoid the temptation of short-term rewards at the cost of long-term productivity, not only will you maintain a highly motivated team, but your efforts as a highly effective mentor and coach will certainly not go unnoticed.
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