Working in sales can truly be like riding a rollercoaster – one with never-ending ups, downs, loops, twists and turns and a rickety track to boot. One week, everything can be going great; you’re smashing targets, sweeping sales through the pipeline, getting fantastic responses and then… you hit a slump.
Whatever the cause of a dip in sales, picking up the pieces and rebuilding your pipeline can be an arduous, demoralising task that, if you aren’t proactive, could lead to some team members seeking greener pastures elsewhere. When salespeople aren’t getting that feel-good factor from closing deals, your goal-oriented team will need to be motivated in other ways. Not only will this keep morale up, but it will also mitigate the impact of a short-term sales slump on long-term profitability and workplace satisfaction. Luckily, there are several ways that you can support and encourage your sales team when they’re struggling that will see them come out the other side stronger than ever.
1. Keep calm and carry on
In times of trouble, your team will look to you more so than ever. It’s important that you lead by example and approach the situation with a level head to avoid escalating the situation further. Avoid the temptation to double down on targets without offering additional support, as this could give your team the impression that you blame their efforts for the slump, knocking their confidence and further hurting business. Instead, rally everyone together and create an ‘in this together’ atmosphere in which the whole team is inspired to put their best foot forward for the good of the company, rather than because they feel threatened if they don’t. Make an effort to be available, with an open-door policy should your team have any concerns or ideas to share with you. Not only will the feeling of inclusion motivate each staff member to see through the hard times, it will improve the strength of your team in the long term for having seen through times of adversity together.
2. Be an open book
There is no hiding a dip in sales from your sales team, so honesty really is the best policy here. Get ahead of the rumour mill by having a conversation with the whole team about the situation at the earliest opportunity. You should be open and realistic while avoiding panic by explaining what your hopes and plans to improve the situation are. The better your team understands the full extent of the situation, the more helpful they can be.
3. Look on the bright side
When there are no big wins, celebrate the little ones – although, in fact, you should be doing this all the time. Rather than rewarding those who bring in the highest value of sales, consider setting up a system where the team feels appreciated in other ways. You could offer appreciation for most creative sales pitch, greatest client relationship building or a standout attitude to work, and the rewards for these don’t have to be expensive at all and, although a prize will usually be happily accepted, a heartfelt ‘thank you’ is a good place to start. An American Psychological Study found that 93% of people who feel valued at work also feel motivated, compared to 33% of those who didn’t. Showing your team that you believe in them is one of the best possible ways to rebuild motivation. Ignore small, unimportant mistakes and never miss an opportunity to give praise where it’s deserved; feeling recognised for their efforts will boost morale and confidence, and in no time at all your sales team will be inspired and at the top of their game.
4. Give your team new opportunities
Salespeople are notoriously ambitious, and one of the biggest factors that affects motivation is whether team members feel that they’re progressing as they should. When sales are down and promotions and associated pay rises aren’t a possibility, it’s easy to think you have nothing to offer your team. However, another way in which you can continue to develop your salespeople is by expanding their knowledge and expertise so that they are continuing to grow and find value in working at your company. If you have a diverse team of talented salespeople, or happen to have expertise in a certain area yourself, a great idea is to organise employee-run training sessions where staff can share skills and learn from each other; just ensure that these workshops are useful and that those who attend feel that they are gaining something from them. It’s also a great chance to refresh the team on what they’re actually selling; according to Forbes, 58% of buyers report that sales reps don’t know enough about the product to convince them to buy, and 40% of salespeople felt that they didn’t know enough about the product before making a call. Ensuring that your team know the product backwards will massively boost confidence and, in turn, increase sales.
5. Boost their ego with an easy win
When sales are down, the last thing your team wants to be doing is any activity that isn’t directly contributing towards getting them back up. One specific task has little palpable payoff, and which many salespeople really would rather not do, is lead generation; up to 68% of B2B businesses struggle with this activity (CSO Insights). However, it is also one of the most vital stages if you want quality prospects and a low drop-off rate along your sales pipeline, so ditching it altogether is simply not an option. What EngageIQ can offer you is a continuous stream of high-quality prospects, backed up with properly researched purchase intent data and the decision maker’s contact information. Giving your sales team access to our sales software is akin to handing them prospects on a silver platter so they’re in the best possible position to reach out, make that all-important initial contact and finally close a sale again after a slump. And, honestly, there’s no better way to motivate a sales team than that.