• Zack Lesak

Motivating a Sales Team When Performance Dips

Managing a sales team is one of the most rewarding positions out there. It can be fun, exciting, and you have to be a great motivator to keep the momentum going. But, it can also be frustrating. What happens when the momentum stops? What happens when teams go in a slump?


The first reaction is typically to hold the sales representatives accountable for not achieving a goal. We start by analyzing data. You look over call logs, lead to contact, lead to close, etc. After that, you’ll probably listen to calls, and audit the sales representatives’ performance to look for areas of opportunity. Are the sales reps spending too much time on follow-up calls with current clients versus prospecting for new leads? Are they taking too much time between calls? If they’re not feeding their pipeline, they’ll come up short.

Breaking it down with individualized goal reviews

It’s a given that you’ll do stand-up meetings with your team and review sales cycles, but I’ve learned one of the most important things is to review their goals with them individually. One of the most important things that I’ve learned is to get as specific as possible with the sales representative on how they will achieve their goal. Review the last performance period of the rep and assess with them the good, the bad, and the ugly; while highlighting their areas of opportunity. Take your time when doing the individual meetings; this is where the magic happens, in my opinion. Remember, the sales rep is a person, and sometimes, being an ear to listen, or a shoulder to lean on is a motivator in itself. When you do your individual meetings, this is how you can gauge the “buy-in” from the rep. If a representative has a goal of 10 per month, break their goal into weekly or even daily goals. The same would go for contact attempts, contacts penetrated, call volume, etc. You want to break it down into manageable daily chunks.

Are they managing their time wisely?

I had an awesome college professor that would always stress that, “Time is either used, or wasted”. Think about it, it’s one of the simplest ways of breaking down time management. When you have an underperforming sales representative, you are digging into every metric possible to diagnose the problem, and to get the best performance out of the rep. Sometimes, underperforming sales reps get long-winded on the phone. Perhaps, they get too excited because they made a contact when they’ve been in a slump and they just want to talk to the individual, so they’re not listening to more full voice mailboxes. Are they wasting time and spending too much time between follow-up calls? One of the most important things is to meet with the representatives first thing in the morning and to ensure they have a plan for the day. Whether it’s X amount of dials by a certain time, or 1-2 sales by close of business, as a leader, you have to hold the representatives accountable to their daily activity.

As a leader, have a ranking system

How does your team look? Are you fortunate enough to have a seasoned team of pros? Do you have some falling stars on your team? Is your team newer and green? Does your team have any members from Generation Z on it? As a leader, you have to figure out who your players are. It’s a beautiful thing to have sales professionals with a demonstrated and proven track record of success. This can help with the training and mentoring of your “green” sales representatives. It will give the top performers a sense of leadership and mentorship if they have an opportunity to assist with the training and grooming of green, or underperforming sales representatives. It’s important to have notes on who your players are. Something that I did was having a ranking system for my top to bottom performers. Having a ranking system works for fantasy football, the branches of the military, the PGA tour, and even sales teams! This helps you scale your team, and informs you of, “who you can lean on" to get a better performance from the team. I would typically rank my sales teams by a Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3. Tier 1 would be the top performers, Tier 2 would be the middle-core (which can make or break sales teams), and Tier 3 would be for the newbies or the underperformers. You have to be aware of how your team ranks, and who can rise up a Tier, especially in a time of need.

It’s all about process

A very wise man once told me that it’s all about, “People, System, Process”. He still instills this same message into his leaders and operators to this day. If you don’t have the right People in place, the System and Process won’t work. If you have the right People in place, and the System isn’t functioning properly, then the System and Process will be off. If you have the perfect storm of having an impeccable blend of “People, System, Process”, then failure is not an option. It will give even the lowest performers the autonomy of blossoming into a Tier 2 or even a Tier 1 sales representative. It’s best to keep processes as simple as possible. If an underperformer doesn’t understand a process, all could be lost. As a leader and motivator, it’s very important to educate the sales representatives during their onboarding about the sales process, and informing them in the easiest of terms.

Try Gamification, it works!

What is this gamification thing? Starbucks uses it with their mobile app. Fitbit uses it with their products. The US Army uses it for recruiting. Gamification is an art, a motivational tool, and Fitbit has turned it into a way of living a healthy life. Gamification is an ongoing motivational too that makes ordinary things (like buying coffee, working out, job performance) game-like. Starbucks does it by offering rewards or perks just by getting your morning (or afternoon) fix. You get reward points simply by buying beverages or merchandise from Starbucks, and after a certain benchmark, you can earn discounts, free beverages or even merchandise by being a Starbucks app user. They also throw out certain challenges to the users to collect bonus points so the user can get closer to their free beverage. Fitbit also does an awesome job of “gamifying” health and wellbeing. Both of my parents are in their 70’s, and both have been wearing Fitbits for the last several years. They’re constantly competing with one another over who burnt more calories for the day, who took more steps, who drank more water, or who even had the better night of sleep. Fitbit does an excellent job of notifying the user of when they achieve a certain daily goal, and even informs the user when they need to put in a little more effort to get closer to their goals. So why not do this with a sales team or to motivate employees?

Motivating Employees through Gamification

Let’s face it, it’s 2019 and the future is now. One of the first things that people do when they wake up is to check their cell phone. When an employee has down time, or if they’re not motivated properly, they’re probably checking their cell phones. Chances are, you're reading this on your mobile device. The workforce is getting younger, and as leaders, we must adapt to the changing workforce. So why not adapt to the workforce with using the same tools that can be a detractor to an employees’ performance? Why not! Why not motivate employees the same way that Starbucks does to motivate customers? Why not motivate employees the same way that Fitbit holds my parents accountable for not achieving their daily fitness goals? The ViKtory Now mobile app does just that. It adapts to the ever changing employee and uses their cell phones as motivational tools to achieve performance metrics. It does a great job of increasing competition among themselves in the work environment, and rewards employees for a solid work performance. ViKtory Now is a game changer and modifies the behaviors of the employees to get the most out of them for a more solid performance.

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