Being in sales may look fun and exciting when you're an outsider. You might see are salespeople frequently doing their jobs with big smiles on their faces. But the pressure of being in sales is high. After all, the sales department is responsible for bringing in revenue to the company.
Not everyone is capable of being in sales. It’s a fast-paced and highly stressful environment. According to Salesman, it takes discipline, confidence, ambition, and strong determination. Although once you're hitting quotas and closing deals, you'll get a feel of how rewarding it is to be in sales.
But the reality in sales is that it's not always rainbows and sunshine. Some months the team could hit the target without a hitch, but other months are just simply difficult. Even when you have a whole team equipped with the needed qualities, it's not enough. But why does this happen?
OMG Hub says that a sales slump happens due to wrong mechanics. The salespeople might not be focused on the target, but rather on other things. With enough motivation from leaders, you'll be able to bring back your team's A-game.
1. Set Attainable Goals
Before you decide on anything, take a step back to analyze your sales goals. Your team's slump could be because the goals you've set are impossible to be reached within the deadline. Or you're showing your product the wrong way. But regardless of the reason, your sales goals should be clear prior to creating a strategy.
Ring Central says that setting the right goals will lead to the right path. The first suggestion is to break down your sales goals into different KPIs and highlight them. When a team only thinks of one large number, it's hard to conceptualize. But when broken down to KPIs, the team can focus on one product at a time.
It also helps to study the current market trends because sometimes the problem might not be within your company or department only. It could be a nationwide or worldwide issue. In that case, it's difficult to set a target that's impossible to hit.
Another suggestion is to create daily or weekly sales goals. Focusing on month-to-date performance helps your team solve the gap one day at a time. For example, there are ten days left before the sales deadline, and a sales representative still needs to work on their gap. Saying, "You need to close $10,000 every day to get back on track," is better than saying "You need to close $100,000."
2. Establish Trust Within the Team
Remember that aside from building trust with customers, you should also build trust within your sales team. Trust helps a team become efficient and effective. And according to Haiilo, it develops organizational alignment. But why is it important?
Your team should see that you have aligned goals and intent. Otherwise, they won't be motivated to do their part. They'll feel like they're struggling alone. Crowe Associates says that the absence of trust also means less productivity, collaboration, innovation, and creative thinking. These are factors that are necessary for sales.
Trust relies on the foundation of your relationship with the team. They should feel that you're not just the leader, but rather part of their team. When in a sales slump, trust is important so that the team will have the courage to ask for guidance from you. You need to be transparent and make yourself available to them.
3. Listen to Your Team
In addition to tip Number Two, trust also becomes stronger when you learn to listen to your team. Leaders tend to rely heavily on theory-based problems and counter them with theory-based strategies. Although they may be of help, it's not entirely the same with the real issues of the sales team. When you focus on theory alone, you might be solving problems that aren't there, leaving the existing issues to worsen.
Listening to your team also means you need to ask the right questions. Ask them what struggles they're facing and what's preventing them from hitting their quotas. When you figure out their problems, you then need to inquire about the kind of support they need from you. Do they need coaching? Do you need more programs to move the numbers?
Generally, the takeaway here is to increase communication within your team. Meetings like these don't have to be formal ones. They should feel comfortable with you to the point that they can approach you for help on their own. Most importantly, they’re able to feel heard.
4. Encourage Collaboration and Team Building
Internal competition used to be a good motivator, but in some companies, it's strenuously enforced to the point that sales representatives refuse to help one another succeed. Worse, some even bring other teammates down to win alone. It's an ineffective practice because collaboration has been proven to increase sales.
Reestablishing collaboration when it has already fallen apart once is difficult—it may be as difficult as hitting the month's quota. It could require unlearning old habits and reopening the mind to teamwork and sharing. It's a lot of work, but it'll be worth it once everyone starts speaking up and sharing what sales practices work for them and what doesn't.
Flockblog also suggests giving the team proper collaboration tools. These include investing in a cloud-based system such as Google Workspace. Since everything's digital, there will be seamless sharing of ideas anytime, anywhere. When communication happens in just one place, it's easier for the team to stay consistent.
There should also be healthy competition within the group; emphasis on the word "healthy." The competition's goal is for everyone to work together to hit their quotas. It shouldn't divide the team, and most importantly, it shouldn't be a reason for the sales representatives to bring each other down. With proper collaboration and team building, the team could bring in large sales in no time.
5. Assess the Skills of Your Team
A sales slump is the best time to recheck the skills of your sales team. The harsh truth is that their performance relies heavily on their skills and how they use them. So if sales are down, you need to evaluate your team's contributions.
Pivotal Advisors enumerates the following skills needed in a sales department: networking, presentation, negotiation, communication, and forecasting. Assuming you’ve already promoted collaboration in the workplace, your sales representatives will have an idea of where they’re lacking. They know what needs to be changed. The goal here is for you to guide them during the process.
For example, presentation skills are directly affected by the speaker's confidence. You can step in and give them suggestions or advice to make their presentations better. You can even conduct practices with them before the next time they present to a client. Another example is if a team member struggles with forecasting, help them understand the data on hand.
At the end of your reassessment, coach them in the application process. As mentioned earlier, and to reiterate, theory helps, but it isn't everything. Using the example earlier, if the sales representative had already nailed their presentation skills, observe whether it helps them close the deal or if it increases their sales in the long run.
6. Recognize Wins—Big and Small
Sales is a highly stressful environment but can also be very rewarding. When your team is struggling, motivate them through recognition. Appreciate their genuine effort in trying to close the gap. You can do this by rewarding both tiny and huge successes.
An article in Capterra says that celebrating small wins incentivizes every success. These include hitting daily targets or weekly goals. See, when sales representatives have something to look forward to, they get excited about doing their job. Excitement brings in all the good things: creative thinking, innovation, and determination.
It’s also important to recognize what rewards your team wants to receive. It increases excitement and motivation when employees get what they want. According to Business News Daily, the top three options are gifts, cash, and unique experiences. Let’s break them down one by one.
Experiences could be exclusive access to festivals or concert tickets. Gifts could mean gift cards or gadgets. Some sources discredit giving cash rewards, but with the reality of how expensive living is, it's still an effective means of motivation. Either way, salespeople will appreciate these incentives the most.
7. Promote Play and Rest
Great salespeople understand how important play and rest are. However, when these salespeople become stressed about their targets, they may diminish the line between rest days and workdays. They get too caught up and pressured about doing something to hit their quotas that they're willing to go beyond the designated time.
Sales may be your job, but it shouldn't be your top priority. Your health should be your top priority. Doing work on your day off isn't a healthy option. Dr. Elizabeth Scott said in an article that the human body caters to minimal stress. But once it's prolonged, life-threatening health problems could occur. Your job should support your life—not end it early.
Another reason to engage in rest and play is to avoid burnout. When your team starts feeling it, the members tend to lose the will to work. Some reports say that during the peak of burnout, they no longer even try. They no longer care about going beyond expectations and only exert enough effort to get through with it.
Allow yourself to enjoy your rest days. You can do this by engaging in a fun outdoor activity with friends or alone—depending on how you like it. Watch that movie you've waited for, climb that mountain, or go out of town. You'll feel relief once you're back on duty again, ready to grind harder to close deals.
8. Motivate Your Team Daily
We've talked about how to push your team from tips one to seven, but you still have a role to play—a big one at that. As stated in Perkbox, employee motivation is the key to a company's success. You have the power to motivate them, so do so as much as you can. You can even do it every day.
When you notice your employees struggle to reach the quota every day, find a way to make them feel motivated rather than pressured about it. Instead of focusing your morning briefings on numbers, give them suggestions on how to close the gaps in their variance. Tell them that they're doing a good job simply by showing up.
Lessen the negativity on your team. Trust me, they already know their numbers. They know that they need to exert more effort to succeed. The best you can do is to show them that you support them every step of the way. Be the kind of leader they look up to and are able to approach.
Being the leader of a sales team isn't an easy position. Moreso, being a leader of a struggling sales team is a challenge. The reality is that when it comes to sales, it'll always be a bumpy ride. There will be days that you're on top, and days that you're not. And when it comes to the point when you must bring up your team from a sales slump, you should be ready with the aforementioned tips and tricks in your pocket.
The key takeaway from all of this is to be there. Let your team know of your presence and express that you're willing to help. One of the common problems is that some leaders tend to scare their team members. It's ineffective to be that kind of head. You should be the kind of leader who listens and stays regardless. Leader or member, you're still part of the team.
These beset practices are available to help you motivate your team. But in the end, you yourself will know what works best for your team. If you show your A-game, you'll get an A-team ready!