This article was originally published on 27/05/2020
As many companies nationwide now use the hybrid working model, sales managers need to ensure motivation levels stay consistent in the team. Managing remote staff is challenging, so Capterra interviewed eight industry experts for their tips and insights on sales motivation for hybrid and remote employees.
In this article
- 1. Use slower sales months to facilitate upskilling
- 2. Keep conversations flowing with clients
- 3. Make time for daily check-ins
- 4. Stay connected (and have fun while doing it!)
- 5. Let them find their own work rhythm
- 6. Offer the right kind of sales motivation and celebrate wins
- 7. Hold inspiration workshops
- 8. Prepare staff for a more flexible future
Most businesses in Australia now follow the hybrid working model, largely as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. For sales teams, remote work enables flexible schedules and diverse experiences, but employees still need to feel motivated. Replicating team camaraderie from a home environment is also much trickier than in the office and may affect employee productivity.
Equipping sales representatives with the software they need, such as a quality CRM platform or sales enablement tool, will help drive productivity. However, most sales professionals are used to working off the energy in the room. Working alone can make staying motivated that much harder—especially if business opportunities are slower than usual.
To inspire flagging sales reps, we’ve gathered a list of tips and best practices from a collection of sales leaders already applying them in their own teams. Read on to discover how to motivate your sales team.
1. Use slower sales months to facilitate upskilling
The term ‘upskilling’ refers to the process of training staff with further skills to enhance their current capabilities and improve work performance. Sales departments who find themselves less busy than usual should use this time to hone in on the additional skills they need for the bounce back.
In an office environment, sales managers can work from the same room as their team—giving them visibility over their employee’s skills gaps. When working from home, the opportunity to give spontaneous, in-person guidance isn’t available. According to Roger Simpson, CEO of The Retail Solution: “helping and encouraging team members to grow is a huge motivator for most people, so this needs to continue while they work from home.”
As well as using traditional online training platforms, team members can join internal mentoring groups or be assigned an individual mentor to challenge them.
2. Keep conversations flowing with clients
Their ability to spend might be on hold due to unforeseen circumstances —such as supply chain disruptions felt in the aftermath of the pandemic, rising inflation rates or staff retention concerns —but it’s important not to allow conversations with clients to stop.
If your team is struggling to come up with fruitful conversations with concerned clients, consider what value you could offer them without any kind of monetary transaction. One way of doing this is to make your team a source for industry trends and market movements, which is a technique that Tom Hammond’s team at DXC Technology’s practices.
If a marketing department is available, they may also have the time and resources available to run market research too. These activities send a message to clients that you’re there to support them, but they also enable businesses to better align their solutions to the challenges clients are facing.
3. Make time for daily check-ins
More than ever, managers must ensure they regularly check in with employees and their well-being. After all, happy employees make for productive employees. A survey by Capterra asked Australian workers which factors are most important in terms of job satisfaction and found ‘salary’ (57%), ‘work-life balance’ (51%), and ‘doing interesting work’ (33%) as the most frequently selected answers by survey respondents.
Effective workplace communication is the foundation of a successful workplace, especially for teams who don’t meet regularly. Without regular check-ins and catch-ups, it is impossible for managers to really understand how employees feel. CEO of Lawn.com.au, Toby Schulz, suggests that managers should schedule weekly one-on-one time with individual team members
A 30-minute window is a sufficient amount of time to problem-solve work issues and lend an ear to their personal challenges. Video conferencing software works well in this instance, as you can hold a conversation face-to-face. Managers can also send out anonymous surveys for employees to complete and provide feedback on how they think certain projects went.
4. Stay connected (and have fun while doing it!)
Be it a birthday cake in the office or a company day out, it’s the small traditions that make staff feel like they’re a valued part of the team. But during times of company change or increased stress, it can be easy for the things that help cultivate office culture to become an afterthought. Sales Director Madison Wappett explains that managers must be more creative with how they bring their sales team together with activities such as virtual team-building events.
With people spending the majority of their workday alone, it’s important to find ways to celebrate another workweek together. Other ideas to build remote team camaraderie include holding virtual after-work drinks, setting aside extra time in meetings for general chit-chat, and creating a group chat on Whatsapp so employees can share non-work-related content.
5. Let them find their own work rhythm
Another communication challenge Capterra’s remote work survey identified was employees experiencing too many digital messages. 27% of employees struggle with an overwhelming amount of information being communicated on their company channels.
The average person takes about 25 minutes to get back into the swing of things after they’ve been interrupted, according to a study by the University of California Irvine. Disturbances unrelated to the task employees work on are more distracting than ones on-topic.
Considering these findings, it’s easy to see how the seemingly small interruptions could unintentionally take away a large amount of a person’s work day. It’s the role of the sales manager to ensure teams can work at peak productivity. According to Stephen Findley, Account Executive at Qwilr, the key to successfully managing a remote team is to allow them to work asynchronously.
Create space for communication without people feeling like they need to respond instantly. Managers should also monitor how they deliver key information to their teams. A meeting that could have been an email may have been better spent talking to customers and prospects.
Selecting the right tools for remote communication:
- Video conference tools work well for check-ins, team catch-ups and information that needs to be discussed face-to-face.
- Collaboration software is best suited for laying down key updates for the team to apply in their own time.
- Team communication tools are ideal for little moments of communication within groups or individual chats.
Capterra’s survey on flexibility in the workplace found employees rated communication software (70%) and collaboration software (58%) as the most useful tools to aid staff in remaining flexible, particularly during the digital remote working era.
6. Offer the right kind of sales motivation and celebrate wins
According to Brian Kropp from Gartner, celebrating success is even more important during periods of disruption. During change, an employee’s need for recognition increases by 30%.
There are plenty of ways in which you can reward deserving employees. For example, recognition can be in the form of a monetary bonus, a pay rise or a promotion. These are good examples of extrinsic motivation methods.
Intrinsic motivation focuses on motivating employees through ways that naturally satisfy them. For example, publicly acknowledging a sales rep lets them know the work they’re producing is meaningful. This is something that Joshua Strawczynski takes into account when managing his remote team at JMarketing.
Positive reinforcement works well as a means to motivate employees in and out of the office. The idea is that it encourages them to continue delivering exceptional work. When a job well done goes unnoticed, it can have the opposite effect: employees feel unappreciated and unmotivated.
7. Hold inspiration workshops
In our efforts to create rituals to keep sales teams motivated, our routine can sometimes become a little stale. Try mixing it up by bringing in external experts to hold inspiration workshops. James Norquay from Prosperity Media has been taking this approach. The objective is to help his reps take inspiration from people who have achieved success against the odds.
8. Prepare staff for a more flexible future
The hybrid working model has really taken off in the last couple of years and highlights how the workplace is evolving. As mentioned earlier, one of the most important factors of job satisfaction for employees is a better work-life balance. And with that comes the need for businesses to be much more flexible, even addressing the new flexible workplace trends as they come, such as the possibility of the four-day workweek.
A survey by Capterra found that, unsurprisingly, 90% of employees surveyed would opt for a four-day workweek if it were possible. But two-thirds of survey-takers, whose company has not yet introduced this latest scheme, said they expect leadership to show resistance to the idea.
Chief Commercial Officer at Salesforce Australia, Ian McAdam, warns businesses that a lack of remote and flexible working options could work against them. From a recruitment and staff retention perspective, for example, he says businesses run the risk of losing sales talent to competitors willing to offer this flexibility.
When it comes to implementing sales motivation during the hybrid working model era, it seems that there are many factors managers will need to consider. Team leaders must get to know their sales team, build relationships of trust, stay in regular contact with employees and stay on top of the latest trends in flexible working.