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Keep Your Sales People Motivated Through Summer

Even the best sales performers can lose focus during the summer. Warmer months mean more distractions, and with customers and key decision makers on holiday, leads can start to dry up. All this can turn into a negative cocktail which lead to tumbling sales. Sales leaders who rely on run-of-the-mill motivation techniques struggle to drive their people toward to achieve their sales targets. This year, take a different approach to the same challenge.

Here are 10 motivational techniques that will engage both junior reps and their senior counterparts, ensuring they continue to work to meet their sales goals throughout the summer:

1) Invest in Sales Management Coaching

One clear way to motivate salespeople in the summer is to empower managers to be better coaches. Many sales managers believe that they are bogged down by non-coaching tasks and don't have time for coaching: Reporting numbers, attending unnecessary meetings, and making their own sales. Sales leaders need to create a culture of coaching by prioritising it among the list of managerial responsibilities and making coaching time part of their weekly KPI's .

If you don't already have a coaching culture in your business, you can start by identifying a behaviour-based coaching method to adopt for the organisation and secure support from other senior leaders. Clearly communicate these expectations to managers, and whenever possible, schedule and mandate the time you expect them to give one to one support to reps. In particular, communicate to managers that developing strong selling behaviours and actions in every stage of the funnel is time intensive, but it has an incredible impact on revenues. You may have to sacrifice or restrict other activities while you get this off the ground, but by supporting the strategic role of coaching within an organisation, company leaders boost the motivation and performance of the entire sales team. Creating competition between sales manager for the biggest improvement in agent performance is another way to engage your people and improve your results.

2) Plan a Sales Contest

Sales contests are another engaging way to propel reps forward. The first rule to remember is that cash not what you want to use during sales games -- that is what your commission plan is designed to achieve. The second rule is that creating fun in your sales culture is the main outcome.

To take a contest to the next level, offer two or more different rewards rather than one. The lower-level reward shouldn’t be a watered-down version of the first — it should appeal to your team’s unique wants and desires. By using this two-tiered method, leaders motivate everyone, not just star performers who always bring home the prize.

3) Reiterate and Reinforce Goals

We have found that repetition and simplicity are the two keys to communicating workplace goals. As August comes to a close and September begins, ensure your managers are communicating regularly with their teams. They should reiterate and reinforce the targets for the quarter with direct language and repeat the message during one-on-one meetings.

Sales managers bring accountability to these objectives by breaking them down into smaller, personalised goals. For example, a manager could ask an underperforming rep to double her number of prospecting calls.

4) Track and Celebrate Small Wins

When sales slow down in the summer, focus on tracking and celebrating the small wins to keep spirits high. Ask reps to record their accomplishments every day and share them with a friend at work. Small wins can include better email metrics, a higher number of demos conducted, and verbal agreements. These moments of success give salespeople momentum and keep their focus on the positive.

5) Focus on Professional Development

Summer is the ideal time to focus on professional development for sales reps. With key decision makers vacationing, their schedule is typically slower, and learning new techniques helps them override low motivation. Consider breaking up the quarter by sending a few reps to an exciting conference or by planning onsite training. If your company has limited budget, make use of books, webinars, and podcasts that help salespeople strengthen their skill set.

Developing a mentorship program is another low-cost way to increase engagement in the summer. By partnering junior and senior salespeople, leaders can facilitate learning while increasing employee engagement. If salespeople can deepen their sales skills during the summer, they can sign deals faster once lead volume returns to higher levels.

6) Implement a SPIFF

SPIFFs -- Sales Performance Incentive Funds -- are popular performance tools that challenge salespeople to sell a particular product. With a specific goal that’s tied to commensurate compensation, salespeople regain focus. One of our clients Richard Russell, sales manager Trendzer, explained his six best practices for SPIFFs:

  1. Make sure to plan out each SPIFF with a solid understanding of expected ROI.
  2. Use SPIFFs to launch a new product or sell excess inventory.
  3. Keep it short -- three months maximum.
  4. Only implement SPIFFs twice a year. Summer is a perfect time.
  5. Create a surprise SPIFF that’s unpredictable for salespeople.
  6. Limit the cost to 5% of an incentive budget.

When implemented well, SPIFFs motivate a sales team to hit a target that supports your company.

7) Support Remote Work

Salespeople enter the profession because of the flexibility it affords them. As long as they hit their numbers, they enjoy a degree of autonomy and self-direction. Despite managers’ instinct to tighten the grip on salespeople during summer, reps benefit most from extra flexibility. Encourage people to work from their ideal environment, whether it’s at home or even while on a trip to the beach.

According to Stanford University researchers, working remotely can help increase productivity. Managers can pre-empt any perceived leniency by developing accountability systems that work just as well in remote situations. New communication applications like Slack and Asana, for example, make communication with remote team members easier than ever.

8) Lead Team Events

Despite some eye-rolling from employees, team-building activities do have a measurable effect on business results. To develop camaraderie and boost morale, take a team into a totally new environment.

Leaders can ensure their planned activities don’t flop by getting sales reps involved in planning the process. Ask individual salespeople to brainstorm some ideas for an offsite event. Something as a simple as a barbecue, trip to the beach, or even a sporting event encourages team members to relax and connect outside of the office.

9) Communicate Value

Showing your appreciation for your team is one of the easiest (and least expensive ways) to motivate them to work harder everyday. When leaders communicate what they value about salespeople, they encourage more contributions.

At the next meeting or event, publicly recognise reps who have gone above and beyond this summer. Give awards to individuals who not only surpass expectations, but also bring something different to the table or exhibit real progress. Acknowledge a rep who made the biggest sale of their career, or consider bringing attention to the salesperson with the highest rating from clients.

Balance these public opportunities with day-to-day praise. Giving someone a high-five for a job well done or writing a personal note of thanks can go a long way toward inspiring higher performance.

10) Eliminate Commission Caps

Some companies use commission caps to limit salespeople’s pay as compared to other employees. Despite positive intentions, these caps severely hinder revenue growth. If top reps are not incentivised, they will hit commission caps and start sandbagging.

Commission caps are one of the most effective ways to stunt a company’s growth. Overall, they lead to decreased motivation, fewer high-performing reps, and a diminished capacity for growth. As the summer comes to a close, work with HR to get rid of commission caps and watch how your talent’s performance soars.


We work with clients to help them get the most from their sales teams. We can help you become more effective through sales training and leadership development. If you would like to have a friendly chat about how we can make your sales team more effective contact us here

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