There are over one billion full-time workers in the world. But according to Gallup, only 15% are actually happy and engaged at their job. And an unengaged worker means an employee whose only focus from 8 AM to 4:59 PM is counting down the hours until they get to clock out.
The truth is unhappy employees make for unmotivated salespeople. This not only makes you the big bad boss, but also directly impacts your business performance and the money you make.
But in a world where you’re competing with other businesses not just for customers but also for good-quality hires, how do you keep your sales team motivated, engaged, and happy?
Let’s take a look at 19 tips for boosting motivation in your sales team.
1. Start an employee rewards program
A company sets up an employee rewards program to reward employees for their performance and progress, which in turn motivates them and boosts morale.
Without an established program, it can be easy to let rewarding your team move to the back burner. But thanks to technology, intentionally showing appreciation can be as simple as investing in an employee recognition program that does the performance tracking and rewarding for you.
Showing your employees that they matter can also really show them that you see them as valuable assets to your company.
Something as simple as an appreciation post can make their day. For example, the personal injury law firm headed by Attorney Brian White gives their employees recognition through social media posts that bring attention to their efforts.
Showing your employees that they matter can also really show them that you see them as valuable assets to your company.
2. Let your salespeople be creative
You’ve set a goal (or multiple) for your sales team. How are they going to achieve it?
Usually, you might call everyone into a meeting, map out a process, assign everyone their own roles, and make sure they know what to do every step of the way.
But if your goal is to keep your team motivated, try something new: set a goal, then leave it up to your salespeople how they’ll achieve it. It doesn’t matter how they get there, as long as the destination is the same.
Ask them to send in their sales proposals via email or leave it on your desk- give them the ability to play around with ideas.
Not only does this allow your employees to create a process that comes easy and perhaps more fun to them, but it also encourages leadership, cultivates initiative, and establishes trust between you and them.
3. Give your salespeople a sense of ownership
If you’re used to micro-managing or doing everything yourself, this tip might be harder to implement. But nevertheless, micro-managing is a habit dangerous to employee motivation and trust, so it’s got to go.
Instead of appointing one leader, or making everyone on the sales team work towards the same project, try giving each person their own individual tasks that no one else shares.
This gives them a sense of purpose, individuality, and value because they’re bringing something to the table none of their colleagues can.
Another idea is to let employees take turns leading or managing projects, rather than appointing the same person each time.
4. Encourage salespeople to take advantage of their freedoms
Jobs can start feeling restrictive very fast. And if your employees are unhappy, it’s likely because they feel that showing up to work is like stuffing themselves and their creativity into a box.
But more than likely, their role consists of more freedoms than they realize or remember. Take email outreach, for example. Sales professionals have a lot of freedom to decide how to conduct their sales outreach, from creative subject lines to copy and images.
If you notice someone feeling stuck, frustrated, or unmotivated, remind them of the autonomy in their role and that they have permission to be creative. If the traditional way isn’t working, encourage them to try another.
5. Emphasize underpromising and overdelivering
Setting the bar too high leads to unsatisfied customers and unmet standards. But setting it lower than you can leads to excited customers and exceeded expectations.
It gives people a sense of pride and motivation when they exceed customers’ expectations. So remind your sales team not to promise the world when talking to prospects or even current clients, then watch morale rise as they hear the voices of ecstatic customers praising their efforts.
6. Surprise your salespeople with bonuses
Money might not buy happiness, but it certainly makes a great motivator. According to SHRM, labor turnover in 2021 was at an all-time high. It's now more important than ever to incentivize employees in the right ways.
You might see more bonuses as just another expense, but in a cutthroat job market, keeping happy employees for years on end means saving money on things like job ads. So see it as showing appreciation and treat it like an investment!
Set aside some time to intentionally budget for a small bonus–either for everyone or certain employees who have been working hard and performing well. They’ll be honored by the act of recognition and appreciation, and motivated to keep going.
7. Cultivate a fun work environment
If work is somewhere your employees dread or hate being, their only interest will be counting down the time until they can clock out.
And the truth is, the only way to counter this feeling is to harvest a work environment that people enjoy being in.
For example, you can do extracurricular activities together, like yoga, team dinner, or training for a 5K. Or, surprise your team with random breaks and/or early clock-outs. Bring chocolate or cater a delicious restaurant for lunch. You can even do a “bring your pet to work” day, assuming no one has allergies.
8. Be supportive
You might be their boss, but there’s no reason why you can’t be their friend, too. Make it a point to support your team members individually. It can be as small as asking how their most recent vacation was or sending private condolences when they’ve lost a loved one.
On the larger scale, you can financially support their hobby (like sponsoring them in a 5K race) or morally by showing up to an event they’ve been preparing for.
9. Involve your sales team in big decisions and changes
Whether big or small, get input from your team before you make decisions or changes to the department. Or, simply ask for your team's feedback on an idea you’ve been considering.
This makes them feel like an important part of the company who does more than just follow directions.
10. Say “Thank You” More Often
No matter what industry you are in or what your sales team needs to sell, a simple, heartfelt “thank you” can go a long way. Between our home lives, personal goals, and work, vocalizing our appreciation can quickly get overlooked or forgotten, even though it’s one of the easiest things we can do.
Even if you establish an employee recognition program or support your employees, make it a goal to show appreciation and thanks just through your words. There’s not a single employee who wouldn’t be slightly touched by the fact that their boss took time out of their day to personally thank them for their hard work.
11. Cut back on meetings
Whether you have one meeting every two weeks or ten meetings a day, you’re probably having too many.
A lot of meetings could’ve easily been an email, a phone call, or even a group text message. So instead of interrupting the day and taking your team away from their tasks, protect their calendars by turning certain meetings into virtual communications or announcements (or eliminate some altogether).
To know which meetings are skippable, start taking meeting notes for your next few meetings and look them over once you are done. Could this have been an email? Was the meeting worth taking everyone away from their work?
12. Share customer success stories with your sales team
Just like success stories inspire and motivate you as a business owner or department manager, they also bring joy to your sales team.
When you receive positive reviews from satisfied customers or clients, show them the fruits of their work. Not only does this inspire them to keep going, but it also reinforces just how valuable they are to the company.
13. Reward collaboration and team work
Sometimes, the workplace can become a field for competition, especially for salespeople. Instead of focusing on the big picture, it can be easy to instead drive attention to who can make the most calls and close the most deals.
Thus, it’s important to remind your team members to work together rather than compete with each other by rewarding mentorship, knowledge sharing, good teamwork, creative collaboration, and more. While everyone should be trying their best, it shouldn’t come at the cost of a hostile work environment, cattiness, and envy.
14. Make sure customers and clients respect your sales team
Odds are, your salespeople are working with customers or clients they don’t like or get along with. This is likely due to the way the clients are treating your team.
After all, everyone knows a high-maintenance client who’s quick to quote “the customer is always right.” And while customer feedback should be respected, so should your team members helping them.
This doesn’t mean you should get rid of those clients, but in the future, announce to your salespeople that you’ll only do business with those who respect you and them. Plus, disrespecting your people is disrespecting you, and no business owner should tolerate it.
Saying no to customers who belittle your employees will make working in sales all the more enjoyable and worthwhile. Your team will look forward to doing their job because they aren’t being treated as less than every day.
15. Measure progress and celebrate milestones
One of the best ways to stay on track and motivated is to see just how far you’ve come and how much you have left to go. For this reason, I’d suggest creating some kind of visual that lets everyone physically see how close to achieving a specific goal they’ve come.
Tracking and analytics tools also help visualize milestones as they happen. Understanding which deals will close in real-time will help you be ready to congratulate and celebrate your team's hard work.
On top of that, keep track of milestones your team has crossed and small wins they’ve accomplished. This makes sure everyone feels seen, recognized and appreciated, and it’s always there to keep them feeling proud and inspired to do it again.
16. Support your team members' career development
Some of your employees are probably content and happy with their current roles, but others might want to continue advancing their knowledge and career. As a manager or business owner, advancement and development are things that you want–so they should be encouraged!
Is there a seminar a particular employee wants to watch? A new skill they want to learn? A course they want to take?
Consider paying for a portion of the fees to encourage them to grow their skill set. This keeps your employees motivated at work and gives you a more agile, advanced team.
For example, one of your salespeople might be interested in taking an SEO course or trying out a new email marketing service or tool. Even if the skill has nothing to do with sales, still consider supporting them as it might come in handy down the road.
These skills might not be used on the sales team, but you now have an employee who can handle sales and internet marketing.
Your creative team might want to try their hand at creating sales content or your customer support team might want to try out a new CRM. Be open to suggestions from outside your sales team that might very benefit your company.
17. Be understanding and empathetic
If an employee has an emergency or can’t come into work for a valid reason, stay positive and supportive even if it means it might create a delay.
Life happens, and your employee is likely already nervous and feeling guilty about needing to call in. No one likes disappointing their boss or letting down their team, so it’s best not to add insult to injury.
Of course, if it becomes a weekly occasion and the salesperson can’t provide a valid reason, that’s a different story. But in general, try to avoid sighing, intense interrogation, or guilt-tripping.
18. Let salespeople choose their rewards
We’ve discussed several ideas for rewarding employees, but why not give the best reward of all: the one your employee wants most.
To make sure it’s within budget and feasible for you to provide (so as to avoid disappointment or let down), it’s a good idea to gather several options and let them pick from one of those. Not many people can answer off the top of their head when asked “what do you want?”, anyway.
19. Ask for feedback on how you can improve as a sales leader
Finally, just as your employees have to go through employee assessments ever so often- consider allowing your employees to give you constructive criticism or feedback in general. The only real way for you to know whether they’re happy at work or not is getting them to answer honestly, which is why feedback should be seen as neutral and normal.
What do they like most about their job or the way you run things? What do they think can be improved? What’s the biggest reason they do or don’t enjoy their work?
Ask these kinds of questions in a judgment-free environment where all answers are seen simply as survey results to build a better team.
Better sales performance starts with team motivation
A big part of being a sales leader is understanding how to motivate your team. Your team's success is your success, so keeping them motivated and on-task is crucial.
Want to learn more about what keeps sales teams engaged and motivated? Check out our latest webinar, hosted with Spiff, where our sales leaders discussed how to keep remote sales teams goal-oriented and motivated.