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Gallup estimates that America’s 22 million actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy nothing short of $450 to $550 billion each year in lost productivity. How can you avoid this widespread bane of low morale from affecting your sales team? Read on to find out.
Decades of research have confirmed the undeniable business impact of high employee morale, ranging from increased employee retention to higher profitability, no less. When it comes to sales teams, the work's intense, high-tension nature means morale plays an even more important role than otherwise.
12 ways to improve team morale
How to motivate your sales team when sales are down? Confused? Here, we have put together a collection of tried and tested methods to improve your sales team’s morale.
1. Allow time for deep work
The global attention span is rapidly decreasing, and the value of deep work, i.e., ‘the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task,’ has never been higher. However, a study conducted by The Energy Project - a company that helps organizations improve employee engagement and ensure sustainable performance - found that 66% of workers worldwide say they can not focus on one thing at a time while at work.
According to the same study, only 20 percent of respondents said they were able to focus on one task at a time at work, but those who could be 50 percent more engaged, a statistic that draws a link between the ability to focus better and higher employee morale levels.
For a sales team, such ability to engage in deep work can result in ways to improve their performance, such as developing better ways to engage with prospects in the industry, improve the efficiency of the sales pipeline, etc.
2. Offer regular, data-backed feedback
Feedback, which enables two-way communication, is essential for ensuring your employees are engaged and happy. This includes both positive and negative feedback. While the former makes sure that your reps experience the positive fallouts that accompany gaining recognition, the latter offers ways to make improvements.
Here, consistent and regular feedback supported by hard data, such as sales figures and other performance metrics or KPIs, warrants a special mention. These measures ensure that feedback is not seen as subjective and thus leaves no ill feelings in its wake.
For sales reps, such feedback can include rewcompeards or incentives for surpassing sales targets and sales coaching to address the challenges that individual team members face. The latter has been made easy to implement in the current landscape by the host of digital tools available for the same.
3. Anticipate and act to prevent turnover
Factors like poor morale and burnout - common in sales teams due to its nature of being a high-tension job - can lead to employee attrition. And for sales teams, replacing a high-performing team member can mean several lost deals and a significant amount of revenue lost.
Prevent these consequences by identifying team members experiencing poor morale or at risk for burnout by looking for telltale signs, such as physical or emotional exhaustion and negativity. Once the at-risk team members have been identified, it becomes easier to intervene to improve employee morale or burnout in mind and prevent attrition.
4. Evaluate your sales compensation plan
As the primary performance driver of a sales team, your sales compensation plan needs to motivate sales team members and ensure that it drives the right sales behaviors. You can make sure this is the case by asking yourself a few key questions:
Are team members compensated for displaying behaviors aligned with business goals? Are incentives structured in a way - for instance, with a capped commission - that drives them to stop selling after the target has been hit? Do sales team members with different KPIs and roles and responsibilities have differently structured compensation plans?
5. Introduce SPIFs and MBOs - alphabet soups can sometimes be essential!
An extremely effective tool when it comes to boosting your sales team’s morale, Special Performance Incentive Funds, or SPIFs are short-term incentives offered to team members for selling a specific product or service.
Typically, each sale earns the sales representative a fixed financial reward. These are implemented to boost the sales of the product or service in the short term. It is advised that SPIFs be used sparingly, though frequent use often renders them an ineffective tool to boost motivation.
MBOs or Management by Objectives is also a tool to motivate your team members outside your sales commission structure. MBOs improve sales team morale and motivation by rewarding performance metrics other than deals closed.
6. Allow time for breaks - in and out of office
While this one may seem counterintuitive, encouraging employees to take breaks during office hours and utilizing their earned Paid Time Off (PTO) can result in business growth. And this can be especially true for the sales team, which is required to be ‘on’ at all times, on calls and otherwise, chasing leads, closing deals, and more.
Encouraging breaks rewards efficiency over hours clocked in - an approach that companies are increasingly espousing in their search for happier employees, higher productivity, and, yes, that elusive holy grail all organizations are all looking for - business growth.
To achieve this, while reducing working hours - as spoken about in the link above - may be too radical an approach for many companies, especially those whose customers require that sales teams are available to contact during regular working hours, quick coffee breaks, or a refreshing walk around the block are measures most organizations can encourage.
What’s crucial to remember here is that the organization stands to gain, not lose, by taking this approach.
7. Add some pizzazz to your workplace with fun activities!
Nothing can bring a team closer than doing things together. But sometimes, these activities need to go beyond work and include playful engagements minus the stress and pressure of a life in sales to bring out the best in people and, ultimately, energize and draw them together.
However, it is essential to design these activities, so that team members are actually interested in taking part in them. An effective way of ensuring this is to engage in some quick brainstorming with the team and find out how they’d like to spend this time designated for activities.
Another key to success when it comes to successfully engaging your team is to try not to eat into their free time with these activities but, instead, to fit them into office hours. These can be regular but frequent, say, weekly, activities that run up to one hour, no more, even. Such an approach will send out the message that the organization prioritizes its sales team’s emotional well-being and will be paid back in dedication to work.
8. Going transparent can go a long way
In 2013, Buffer decided to espouse radical transparency and, famously, went public with even their company salaries. In the same year, a survey found that transparency is, in fact, ‘the number one factor contributing to employee happiness’ and that management transparency had an incredible correlation coefficient of 0.94 with employee happiness.
These are telltale signs that transparency does, indeed, go a long way in ensuring employee engagement and morale is high at your workplace.
However, the same survey found that only 42% of employees are aware of the company’s vision, mission, and values. This is an indication that much needs to be done to communicate; first, companies' guiding principles before more radical measures towards transparency can be taken up.
9. Understand each team member as an individual
Appreciating and acting on the fact that each team member is different from the next will bring returns to the organization in higher motivation and morale. Being understood as individuals is the best way of boosting morale at work.
Once again, the most powerful way to approach what can seem like the gargantuan task of unearthing each team member’s personality is simply this: ask them.
Find out from each sales team member what motivates them and - most importantly - what you can do to improve their morale and motivation on bad days. This will allow you to tailor-make motivational plans for individuals and understand trends and thus bring the whole team together.
10. Sometimes, focus away from the big, hairy beast - the sales target!
Relentless focus on closing deals can tire even the most motivated and high-performing members of your sales team. Take the pressure off by putting smaller behaviors and goals that will ultimately help them reach the larger goal of closing deals front and center, such as the number of calls made, the number of deals moved to the next stage in the sales pipeline, etc.
The confidence gained from achieving these short-term goals will then feed into tackling the larger goal - the sales target.
11. Offer your team the chance to do what they do best
Take the grunt work away from your sales team by installing helpful internal procedures and introducing tools that will take care of tasks other than selling itself, such as data entry and research.
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems and sales automation tools offer more ways to make life easier for your team. From automated emails and follow-ups to taking care of other recurring tasks, the options are many for easing the way for your sales team.
Making such investments into your sales team will leave them less overwhelmed, infuse fresh motivation, and enable your team to focus on what really matters - selling!
12. Make room for creative and strategic thinking
A study found that 70% of employees worldwide claim they do not get time to engage in creative or strategic thinking at work. Parking regular time for creative and strategic thinking can prevent sales teams from getting stuck in the rut of mundane work that gets repeated ad infinitum without much thought applied to it, which ultimately makes the work less effective.
This move can also get your sales team more excited about their day at work as it makes space for experimentation and the joy and satisfaction of seeing one’s own vision yield results.
Without concrete action, every organization’s dream of boosting employee morale remains simply that - a dream. We urge you to take concrete, even if small, steps along the above lines today to improve your sales team’s morale.
Contact Us to know how to put these twelve measures into practice and watch your sales team smiles more, works better, and, ultimately, delivers more to your organization.