As a sales leader, engaging your sales team should be one of your top priorities. A Hubspot report indicated that 40% of companies failed to hit their sales targets in 2021. This demonstrates why it is so important to keep your sales team driven and, most importantly, proud to be representing your business.
So, the question is, can improving an employee’s work ethic assist sales growth?
The answer is yes! Creating a team with a real drive to succeed, both inside and outside of work, is a significant factor to improve productivity and sales growth.
Research has shown that an employee’s commitment to an organisation is derived from their perception of the employer’s commitment and support to them . If workers feel comfortable in their environment, they are more likely to take risks, come up with new ideas, in addition to being more likely to admit to problems and mistakes.
Engaging your sales team in 2022
1. Make them feel valued
Value and a sense of belonging are significant factors that can influence someone’s motivation to work harder and succeed. Creating a culture of value and belonging will benefit your organisation by reducing absenteeism and boosting engagement. It will also increase the likelihood of your employees living happy lives, both inside and outside of the workplace.
You can show value in small ways. A quick ‘thank you’ or ‘I appreciate your hard work’ can go a long way in supporting your team’s enthusiasm towards their role.
Flexible working arrangements are a fantastic way of showing appreciation for your team’s individual circumstances outside of work. The classic ‘9 till 5’ is something of the past. With hybrid working models, employees have more flexibility to get work done when they’re most productive. For example, some people work best early in the morning while others do better in the evening.
Asking for your team’s input when decision making is a great way of creating a sense of value and responsibility. Allowing your team to remain ‘in the loop’ on business decisions and plans means that your team will feel prepared, aware and confident for the future of the business. This also provides your team with an opportunity to consider how they can contribute to, and be a part of, that future.
Communication, structure, and organisation is key within any business.
One way to provide structure within the day-to-day activities of your team is to arrange a morning briefing, meeting, or call. You can use this time to discuss your team’s individual goals, targets, and planned calendar activities for the day. Such meetings help to keep your team engaged and connected with their fellow team members. Morning check-ins can also help you to maintain a deep understanding of your team’s workload and deadlines.
Arranging monthly or fortnightly 1-2-1 progression meetings are a perfect way to invest in your team’s personal development. These private meetings ensure regular contact and help to build a closer relationship with your team. They will also allow you to assess individual areas of improvement. Most importantly, these meetings provide you with an opportunity to check-in on your team’s wellbeing.
Use 1-2-1 meetings as an opportunity to ask your team members how you can better support them.
Don’t forget to ask for their feedback on you too. Feedback is always more beneficial when it goes both ways. It provides great insight into what your team expect from you as a manager and how you can improve in your role.
3. Provide learning
It can sometimes be difficult for salespeople to change their ways. There can be an underlying sense of ‘I have always done it this way’, and ‘why change what works?’. As a leader, you have the power to positively influence change and growth amongst your team.
One way of engaging your team is to invest in their individual development and progression. You can help your team develop by running ‘Flash Learning’ sessions. These sessions will provide your staff with the “Must Have” skills and behaviours they need to be more effective in their role. Each session is focused on key skills and delivered in quick bursts – making the learning memorable. They should be engaging, concise, and ‘punchy’.
Running these quick sessions provides managers with the opportunity to showcase excitement and commitment to their team, and in effect, assisting of the growth of the business.
Flash Learning’ is an extension of the wider concept of, ‘Microlearning’. Microlearning is the breaking down of topical information into quick learning bursts. When delivered in the correct context, and planned effectively, this form of teaching is a great way of making sure the likelihood of knowledge retention is increased. To enhance learning beyond the bitesize ‘flash’ of learning you will deliver, ensure your team has the opportunity to reflect on what they have taken in, and embed their knowledge.
4. Create career growth and personal development opportunities
Investing in your team’s personal development increases happiness and produces greatness within your company. A study by Udemy found that 80% of employees said that learning and development opportunities would help them feel more engaged at work. Ongoing professional development opportunities are a significant motivator and can provide employees with a greater sense of purpose and belonging within an organisation.
You are opening the door to address skills gaps, improve employees’ capabilities, and strengthen your workforce for the future.
Some examples of personal development opportunities are:
- Webinars and eLearning
- Sessions with a mentor or coach
- Taking on more challenging tasks and projects
- Apprenticeships and Development Programmes
- Shadowing more experienced employees
Leaders should regularly discuss the opportunities available to employees, whilst listening to the professional development they are interested in. 1-2-1 meetings, as previously discussed, are a great opportunity to regularly assess these plans so that you can help your team reach their goals. A training programme is designed with key business objectives in mind. Ongoing training programmes are educational and designed to equip employees with knowledge and skills to become better professionals. Often, they begin with an assessment of the learner; this includes their strengths and areas for improvement. No training programme is going to be a ‘one size fits all’, therefore, it is important the programme is adapted to suit each individual person.
Apprenticeships are a way of delivering practical development training that helps to provide role-related skills, whilst the learner also works towards a professional qualification. Apprenticeships are no longer only for school leavers, modern apprenticeships are for employees of all levels and at any stage in their career.
Sales is at the heart of every organisation. Discovery’s Sales Success programme has been designed for sales professionals to hone their selling skills and gives them the opportunity to practice them in a safe environment. Mapped to the Level 4 Sales Executive Apprenticeship standard, the programme is designed to explore the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to excel in sales.
Businesses can take advantage of the Apprenticeship Levy funding for this programme and may get up to 100% of the programme cost covered. In other words, this means that the government will fund your learner’s training. This applies to both larger organisations who are levy payers, and to SMEs using a government top-up. The levy is a fantastic way of delivering top class, relevant training to your team through the help of the government!
5. Hand out honest and open feedback
Providing critical and honest feedback without demotivating and discouraging someone in your team can be a very delicate act to balance.
Feedback provides the opportunity to celebrate success, but it also pinpoints what changes need to occur to hit targets and achieve goals.
Feedback should be provided at every key milestone that an employee is involved in. This could be anything from major campaigns or projects to sales targets reviews or promotions. It allows employees to better understand the impact of their performance, strong or weak, on business operations.
The most important aspect to consider when providing feedback is that it must result in outcomes. Outcomes could be an increase in responsibilities, a continuation of excellent work, improvement in punctuality, etc. Be specific about what they’re doing right when you give feedback. Hold relaxed meetings with your team and promote open and energetic communication.
When you have engaged employees, you will see the best possible results for your organisation. It may be that you have already implemented some of these employee engagement strategies, however, by picking a few, you can really focus on providing the biggest impact to your team’s performance.
As a sales leader, you have the power to positively influence your team for the wider benefits of the business. You can build a sustainable team culture that motivates and encourages each team member to succeed.
(Whitener, E. M. (2001). Do “high commitment” human resource practices affect employee commitment? A cross -level analysis using hierarchical linear modelling. Journal of Management, 27 (5), 515 -535.)