Have empathy for your sales people, not sympathy.
Remember where you came from and the challenges you faced in personal sales yourself. Don’t fall into the trap of having so much empathy for your people that you start making excuses for failure to meet goals.
Help to establish realistic goals that require a “stretch”.
Goals should always be established in consultation with each Team member. Know each person’s capabilities and limitations. Set individual goals for “reasonable” growth, but which cannot be met without some effort.
Conduct effective training to focus on skills that will lead to success.
Are you conducting training to improve specific skill sets, or are you merely getting your Team together because you are seeking an “audience” to hear yourself talk. Training should be focused on specific skills, and should be conducted regularly to keep everyone’s perspective fresh. Don’t hold meetings for the sake of holding meetings.
Show, don’t tell.
Training should be conducted collectively (in groups) and then reinforced “one-on-one” in a ride-along situation. Tell them the philosophy of “why” and then show them how to employ the principle in real life situations.
Critique performance positively. Understand that every team member is different.
Don’t point out shortcomings by referencing what or how someone else does it. Focus on the issue at hand. Critique both positively and with the goal of improving performance. Don’t be a disciplinarian.,,….. be a coach.
Provide appropriate incentives to effect performance.
Recognize effort. Incent those activities in which you want to place emphasis. Incentive programs should be short-lived and simple to understand. Rewards do not have to be huge. Sometimes a simple letter, certificate or a pat on the back can make someone feel appreciated for what they have done.
Don’t let the office become an anchor.
Get out from behind your desk and out of the office with your people. Don’t just spend time with low producers but spread yourself around to include everyone. The worker “does those things well that the boss checks”. The more time you spend on appointments and in field coaching situations, the more your people will respect you. Make each situation positive in nature.
Be involved with your Team, but don’t do it for them.
Spend time listening to everyone on your team. Listen to their problems and their issues. Don’t provide direct answers to their problems, but help lead them to discover the answer for themselves.
Hire the right people.
Develop a profile of your “perfect” sales rep and then go after people with that set of qualifications. Interview with a goal of determining previous task performance and ask others on your Team for their input as well. The product of many minds is always greater than the product of a single mind.
Set a standard for performance.
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Make sure everyone understands what your performance standards are for every aspect of the job. Once the standard has been established, do not accept anything less than that standard. If you accept anything less you will have set a new, lower standard from which it will be difficult to recover.
© 2008 William G. Fitzpatrick. Contact Sales Motivation Solutions for permission to reprint this article in local publications.