You may share the common belief that most people work because they have no choice or because they are driven by desire for money. I believe true motivation actually goes much deeper than that. Have you considered the idea that motivation can be a product of the surrounding culture in your workplace? A positive culture can pave the way to a more motivated and engaged workforce. As a manager, supervisor, or team leader, you can learn how to motivate employees on your sales force and build a winning sales culture in which your organization can prosper.
Characteristics of a Winning Culture
An organizational culture develops from the standard of conduct and core values demonstrated by the leaders and shared by the members of your organization, the interpersonal relationships within the organization, and relationships with the community at large. Standards unique to your organization govern the behavior of your managers and employees, how you communicate with each other, and how you relate to people outside the organization, especially your customers and your ability to sell your product or service to them.
I have found three characteristics are present in a culture that motivates its employees: Learning Opportunities, Affirmation for Employees, and a Sense of Community.
First, an organization that provides a good learning environment is more likely to have a motivated workforce. You should make opportunities available to your employees to increase their knowledge, skills, and abilities as this contributes to improved performance on the job. Motivation can be low when your employees don’t have the requisite knowledge to do their jobs and perhaps would even rather not try than fail. This is particularly true for your sales team which plays such a crucial role in the generation of organizational revenue. If you haven’t learned how to motivate employees and your salespeople haven’t learned how to sell, your revenue is going to suffer.
Secondly, I believe your employees need to be affirmed with positive feedback, praise or reward for a job well done. Affirmation can lead to incentive and initiative – your sales team may be motivated to go the extra mile when they know they’ll be recognized and rewards can be earned.
A third characteristic of a winning sales culture is a sense of community. Today’s social media movement shows us just how much people want to belong, to be included in a group in which they are able to reach out to others and share interests and information. Your organization should foster a strong sense of community loyalty where all employees, regardless of level or title, feel they are important and essential to accomplishing organization’s goals.
Factors Influencing Motivation
Building a winning culture in your organization is a challenging task. Organizational change can be difficult and doesn’t always take place overnight. You may have to go through some trial and error experimentation before you find the right combination of strategies that will motivate your employees. Following are some important factors I think you should consider to impact employee motivation levels.
Recognize that not everyone is motivated by the same things. What motivates one employee may not affect another at all. Some are motivated by positive feedback, others are motivated by being left alone to do their work. What appeals to millennial employees may be of no value to older employees. You will have to get to know each employee’s way of communicating and the reward that works for each.
Motivation can be increased by recognizing needs. Tracking sales can be a long process with often tedious record-keeping and reporting requirements. Your salespeople may be more motivated if they believe you care and that you actively seek ways to make their work lives easier and better. Providing training and tools to do the work, engage customers, and process records can enhance initiative. For example, we’ve designed an effective CRM (customer relationship management) tool that helps sales personnel keep track as they guide prospects through the sales funnel. Providing tools like this can be motivating because your sales team knows you care enough to provide tools of efficiency.
Motivation is influenced by level of engagement. *Engagement is the energy, enthusiasm, and interest that an employee has for the work to be done. The more engaged the employees, the more positive and productive their performance. A study conducted by Dale Carnegie Training revealed some compelling and perhaps surprising statistics on the role of engagement in the workplace. This should be of particular importance to you: The study found employees who work in sales are among the most disengaged of all employee groups. That means getting your sales team motivated may take a more focused effort on your part. Here are a couple more of the statistics:
Executives and managers (like you) are more engaged with the organization than employees (like your sales team) at a ratio of 45% to 23%.
Only 31% of full-time employees and 26% of part-time employees are engaged. (define “engaged” ) *definition added above.
If these results reflect the typical total workforce, you can reasonably conclude that 75% of your employees may be disengaged from your organization. That doesn’t make for a winning culture. Another statistic reported was that, if offered only a 5% pay raise by another company, 69% of these disengaged employees would leave for the new job. Small wonder that learning how to motivate employees is so challenging!
How to Motivate Your Employees
Motivation is challenging, but not impossible. Here are ways you can target your efforts:
1. Create a pleasant atmosphere. As a leader, your attitude has great bearing on your employees motivation and engagement. If you come to work angry, they will too, or they’ll just avoid dealing with you and spend the day wishing they were somewhere else. Make the office a pleasant and even inviting place to work. Ensure the decor is pleasing, the temperature is comfortable for working, and provide snacks. A popcorn break or good coffee in the office kitchen can be an effective morale booster.
2. Provide social opportunities. Offer social events such as office parties, membership groups, even a corporate wellness program to foster interpersonal relationship building. These associations can be beneficial for raising morale and giving employees a sense of belonging.
3. Institute a reward system. Employees appear to be most motivated by public recognition. Entrepreneur.com’s research infographic shows employees are most motivated by praise from their immediate manager, positive recognition from company leadership, and the opportunity to lead projects, at effectiveness rates of 67%, 64%, and 62% respectively. Monetary compensation follows public recognition and leadership opportunity at a 60% effectiveness rating.
This should tell you that money is not always the most important factor in motivating your sales team. Create a results-driven focus and occasions to publicly praise outstanding sales performance. You can also offer the incentive of bonuses and other top seller awards that have value for your sales force, but keep in mind the biggest incentive is recognition.
4. Provide professional learning opportunities. Enhance your sales team strength with training, team building exercises, and strategic partnerships. Resource training that takes a pragmatic, hands-on approach to learning so that your sales team can practice the skills they are learning and get immediate feedback from the instructor or facilitator. Form strategic partnerships by pairing or grouping new sales team members with seasoned sellers to share experience and generate fresh dynamics. Publicly recognize individual and group contributions to the achievement of sales quotas and your sales team will be motivated to continue performing at peak levels and perhaps strive to break some records.
5. Communicate well. Listen carefully to what your salespeople are telling you. You validate and motivate them when you take their input seriously and act upon it. Create a feedback cycle that allows for constant exchange of information. Also, empowerment and the opportunity to lead can be incredibly motivating. Communicate your need for input and give your employees opportunities to participate in decision-making. They will be more supportive of tasks and projects when they have played an active role in shaping them.
Another important aspect of communication is disseminating the mission of the organization and your vision for its future. Why is your business in operation? What are the values you hold dear that drive the work you are doing? Where do you hope the business will be in the next two or five or ten years? Your sales team and other employees need to understand why they’re working for you so they can embrace and take pride in the roles they play in the bigger picture. Salespeople who feel valued and essential to the mission become supporters who will rise to the top of their selling game.
6. Be accountable. I advise you to sit down with each of your sales team members and negotiate expectations – what you expect of them and what they expect of you. When all know what is expected, all know how to perform. Accountability is required on all sides – you should be as accountable to your employees as they are to you. In fact, your accountability is paramount to the success of your business. Your employees need to know that you say what you mean and stand by what you’ve said, but also, they need to see that you’re willing to admit when you’ve made a mistake and will make the adjustments necessary to move the organization forward.
7. Solve problems promptly. Don’t let morale killers linger on indefinitely in the workplace. If you have someone who is dragging the rest of the team down and getting away with it, put a stop to it, behind closed doors. Never chastise an employee in a public forum> Just as public recognition boosts motivation, public humiliation and embarrassment are motivation killers for all.
You may even have to fire a problem employee, but solve problems immediately and handle all situations professionally. Institute policy changes that will improve the worklife of your sales force. They’ll be motivated to see that you recognize problems and issues that need to be addressed and you take steps to resolve them.
8. If you really want to know what motivates them, ask them! According to Entrepreneur.com’s infographic also shows that 90% of businesses feel employee engagement is important yet 75% of businesses have no plan for engaging them.
Ask your sales team what they need. What do they want to see happen in the organization? What tools, training, changes would make their jobs easier. Once, you know what they need, figure out how to make it happen.
A Different Perspective on Motivation
Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a trainer, consultant, and author of several books on trust and leadership who offers a bit of a different perspective on how to motivate employees. In his article on Culture and Motivation, Whipple says .”the job of a good leader is to help others find the best way to keep motivated, based on their own motivational styles and outlooks.” This perspective takes asking your employees what they need to a different level – the employees get to create their own system of motivation. Whipple isn’t letting you off the hook though. You are still responsible for creating an environment in which your team can thrive.
Motivation is challenging to implement but if you want to build a winning culture and inspire your sales team to reach new performance heights, take immediate steps to meet their needs. Here are some words from sales and marketing expert Jeffrey Gitomer to inspire you: “The difference between motivation and inspiration is that motivation must be constantly injected. Inspiration lasts a lifetime. Great Leaders can instill both.”