If there’s one question that Sales Managers ask more than any other, it’s what they can do to get the best performance from their teams. Hitting your number depends on a lot of factors — the quality of your product, the effectiveness of your sales process and the inherent skill of your reps, among others — but it also hinges largely on the way you lead, reward and motivate your team.
Put even more simply, your sales team’s performance boils down to a single word: culture. If you want to get the most from your team, you need to create an environment that gets your reps to work the hardest (and smartest) and properly incentivizes them to perform the right behaviors to help you hit your number.
Creating the right culture for your sales prospecting team boils down to four basic components: transparency, contests, gamification and coaching.
Few jobs are as number-driven as sales. Because of this, sales (and especially outbound prospecting) is the perfect venue for promoting healthy competition and spurring persistence. But to do this you need transparency. Did you make more dials than your neighbor? Book more meetings than last month’s top performer? Allowing your reps to easily answer these questions by giving them access to performance metrics will ensure that your reps are performing at their highest level and pushing their teammates to that same level of achievement.
Of course, transparency alone isn’t enough to propel your reps — you need to incentivize them. Contests are the easiest and most effective way to get your reps to increase their effort and raise their game. Not all contests are created equal, however, and it is important to find the right balance of team vs. individual and short-term vs. long-term contests to keep production high. Quarterly team dinners are a great way to recognize persistent effort, and performance-based prizes help goad reps on to even higher levels of production, but it is also important to reward smaller accomplishments.
Spiffs are a great way to do this. These small rewards — doled out for everything from scheduling the most opportunities in a given week to writing the best prospecting email — encourage your reps to stay persistent and energetic on a daily level. Spiffs don’t need to be big — a shiny new gadget or nice bottle of wine will do — but they should be given routinely.
As you can see, giving your reps clearly defined goals and regular rewards is a great way to boost their performance. In this way, improving sales performance is much like a video game, which is why the trend of ‘gamification’ has gained so much traction recently. This technique — which involves giving reps not just tangible prizes, but also more game-like rewards like ‘leveling up’ badges and experience points — has been proven to foster friendly competition among reps and incentivize the right behaviors.
In keeping with the importance of transparency, it is important to not only create a system of gamification, but also to bake this system into your team’s environment. Big TVs displaying ‘leader boards’ and emails tracking daily or weekly progress are perfect for keeping the game-like aspect of sales at the forefront of your reps’ minds.
All of the ideas above have been about getting your reps to work hard, but it is just as important to get them to work smart. And this means creating an environment where skill development and professional improvement are encouraged. Help your reps learn and improve by holding regular coaching sessions on both an individual rep and team-wide basis.
It is important to treat these meetings not only as opportunities to impart knowledge to your reps, but also as a chance to get them to guide their own improvement. What skills do they believe are holding them back? How would they like to develop? Making the learning process a dialogue is an essential part of getting buy-in from your reps and creating a culture of continuous improvement.
It’s easy for Sales Managers to ignore culture when they think about the factors that affect the likelihood of hitting their number, but this is a huge mistake. The right sales environment can boost performance, improve effectiveness and, ultimately, increase revenue. Paying attention to the four components listed above and making a concerted effort to create a high-performance culture is a proven way to improve your sales team’s performance and maximize results.