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Sales people need inner motivation to be successful. But that means that anyone managing sales people must play a large part in maintaining that motivation.

The sales profession has one of the highest turnover rates compared to other industries and in recent years sales personnel turnover has increased. It’s easy for sales people to get discouraged when they are faced with constant pressure, demands for consistent higher performance, fierce competition and accelerated timelines.

I’ve been managing sales teams for years and I have to say it’s one of the most challenging roles based on the variety of distinct skills that are required. The inherent challenges include:

Balancing hard and soft skills: In sales organisations, people management requires both soft skills as well as sales skills to be successful. Many professionals focus too much on one or the other, but a balance of both is necessary.

Keeping sales people focused: A sales manager has to manage salespeople who can be highly competitive and sensitive to outside distraction.

Managing employee turnover: A sales manager by definition has to coordinate multiple variables so their team can hit their targets, and they must do so consistently. This often involves managing different players who cycle in and out of the team.

Leading a team while working towards aggressive goals: A sales manager has to invest in individual relationships while serving as a coach, internal advocate, culture leader, and communicator, all while helping close deals or they run the risk of getting demoted or fired.

That’s a lot to juggle at once.

Now let’s shift our attention to our sales people. How can you tell if a team member is discouraged or not engaged? Here are some signs to look out for:

1. They are not focused and get easily distracted.
2. They are physically present but don’t have the same level of engagement, intellectual curiosity or emotion that they typically show.
3. They don’t perform the activities at the same rate as before or the quality of the work isn’t there — this is usually indicated by a change in their sales performance numbers.
4. They tell you they are burned out, or are exhibiting signs of burnout.
5. Their interactions with other team members are strained.
6. You can tell they aren’t on their A-game. Most sales managers work closely enough with their team to observe changes in an employee’s work behaviour.
7. Discouraged sales people will almost always impact overall team performance. Most sales teams have five to 12 people, so one non-performing salesperson can impact between 8-22% of your total revenue target. One of the skills that is important as a sales manager is re-engaging discouraged reps.

So how do you reengage demotivated sales people?

Learn Why They’re Feeling Discouraged

When one of your team isn’t performing, try to understand why. Recognise that whilst you play a role in motivation it is not your sole responsibility. You can help influence it, but the team member is responsible for their behaviour and performance.

If the team member is aware that there is an issue and is willing to open up about it, work with them to build an approachable plan to get back on track. Remind your team that taking care of themselves is a critical element of sales and make yourself available to check in as often as they need.

Manage Expectations

Some team members need to be reminded why they are doing their job. Remind them why they decided to join the sales team, and what they are supposed to do today.
When they are in tough situations, they tend to forget their why and tend to focus on the uncontrollable factors. So reconfirm why they decided to join the team before digging into the details of the issue.

Focus on Small Wins and Listen to Understand

Telling an individual to do better isn’t helpful advice. As a manager, you can provide a path to success but the key is celebrating the small wins. In sales we’re taught perception is reality but for whatever reason, we sometimes forget that lesson as a manager.
If you have a rep who is struggling or discouraged, rather than imposing an attitude and assuming you have all the answers, making sure you seek to understand is a great way to gain trust.

Remind Them of the Great Work They’ve Done

Make sure your team knows that you have their back. Build their confidence for everything and make them take credit for all of the little things that they do every day. Work together to determine what they need to do to be successful, and then help them put together a plan outlining how they are going to get back on track. If they take ownership you always get a better result.

During challenging and uncertain times, keeping your sales reps encouraged and feeling good about their work is no easy feat, but it is possible.

If you need help reengaging your sales team, then maybe we can help

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