6 ways to motivate sales staff to work under difficult circumstances

Posted by Kevin Chamberlain

If we have learnt anything during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the need to be adaptable during difficult circumstances.

Businesses are adapting to their new working parameters, switching up the services they offer and seeking new solutions. But what about employees? How are they adapting?

Sales teams are seen to play a pivotal role within organisations to move the business forward; pursuing new opportunities and capitalising on existing trade. However, sales teams have taken a hard hit over the past few months. They are adapting to a new working environment and the buzz, camaraderie and lively atmosphere has been exchanged for a potentially lonely and lacklustre position of working from home. This topped with anxieties like health, job security, work/life balance and family responsibilities can take its toll. Added pressures like an increased workload from colleagues who are on furlough or from management to plug the gap of business deficit from lack of customer spending, can force staff to become distracted and disengaged.

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Play to sales teams’ strengths

Businesses need to play to the traits of sales staff – competitiveness, confidence, enthusiasm, tenacity and passion.  It is enabling them with a way to get focussed, spark some curiosity and interest, to want to show their resilience and encourage them to engage with the task at hand. Leaders need to inspire their teams to concentrate and be motivated to perform desirable actions. Easier said than done? Not necessarily.

By giving regular recognition to show appreciation from something informal like a congratulatory message or a mention in the company updates, to more formal recognition by way of a reward for performance, can both encourage sales staff to remain motivated to pursue an increase in desired outputs.

During these difficult circumstances, how can businesses go the extra mile to motivate employees?

Here’s six ideas to motivate sales staff

1) Sales enablement

The phrase ‘knowledge is power’ is incredible apt, when looking at ways to motivate sales staff. Sales teams need to first and foremost be armed with the appropriate tools, resources, and knowledge required, to aid them in performing their role successfully. Equipping them with the expertise to talk about your product or brand, will enable them to sound confident, convincing, and credible to customers.

An online portal could host product cheat sheets, sales tips, research papers and statistics or case studies. Videos could explain the features and benefits of a product SKU that they are targeted to sell.

Online incentivised learning encourages staff to participate in interactive digital education, by way of courses, quizzes and tests. Staff are rewarded for the successful completion of training, with points, badges or prizes. A great way to build brand ambassadors, whilst building highly knowledgeable teams.

2) Gamification

idea is for users to have fun through interactive learning and games, to improve the overall experience, increase productivity and boost awareness and loyalty.

Include a specific game mechanic and reward element within a tactical promotion or sales incentive, such as earning points or prizes through digital challenges, missions, puzzles, scratch games or races.

Sales staff can receive the opportunity to play a fun game to win a prize, when they have successfully achieved desired behaviours like sales targets, sales claims, converged sales etc.

More details on how gamification can be applied is included in our blog.

See how HPE utilised gamification within a futurist themed incentive programme to drive teams to increase the sales of targeted converged products.

3) Tactical promotions

For an attention-grabbing initiative, tactical promotions can be used within an existing programme or stand alone, over a short amount of time. Designed using a specific theme to stand out and re-engage, tactical promotions aim for high impact, high results. Focussing salespeople to ramp up their performance, activities and outputs, in exchange for rewarding desired behaviours.

NFON used a Halloween-inspired tactical promotion called ‘The Gifting’ to help drive their key objectives. Discover the details and results here.

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4) Interactive leader boards

There’s nothing quite like a leader board to be used as a consistently reliable way to drive competition and engagement amongst a sales team. But static, bland looking league tables are becoming old hat and uninspiring. By utilising a customised leader board concept, enables leader boards to be used in a virtual competitive scenario. For example, like a racetrack – all the players (staff) have a position and they can move around the track based on successful activity.

Or if it is a race to win a place on an incentive trip, plot their progress from their starting location towards the final destination, using a global map.

5) Virtual events

There is nothing quite like the buzz of having a team together at a live event to kickstart the new quarter or financial year, launch new products or inspire them and ensuring loyalty to the brand. It is often the highlight of the year. A chance to reset and get energised. But when there’s social distancing applied; live get-togethers become a little trickier.

That is when virtual conferencing comes into play. The event itinerary from the main panel sessions, to the breakout training, to the social elements are all bought online, and a digital conference takes place instead.

Alternatively, if short, sharp bursts of energy and results are needed, bring the sales activation days, online. Virtual SPIF days include all the fun and games and competitiveness a usual sales floor event brings, to motivate staff to hit those targets and peak performance.

6) Instant Points Vouchers

A quick and easy mechanism to say thanks, good job, keep going, I’m impressed! Whatever the gratitude is, share gratefulness by way of a digital instant points voucher (IPV). Feeling recognised and acknowledged for your work and performance is one of the best feelings – knowing the little things and the big things are all worth it. If staff can understand they are being appreciated by management, leaders or peers, they’ll feel motivated to do more of it. The IPV can have points attached, which can be exchanged for a reward within an incentive programme.

What’s in it for me?

Salespeople will often want to know, “what’s in it for me?” If you are pushing them to boost their performance for the greater business, what will they be presented with in exchange? How will they be rewarded for their accomplishments? You could argue they are receiving a salary, so that should be their incentive. But how about thinking about the ‘above and beyond?’ You’re asking them to achieve their base outputs and then excel and surpass targets. For the increase in effort, shouldn’t that be rewarded?

But the reward needs to be right. It is the final piece to the puzzle. If the end result is not something salespeople are interested in, they won’t be motivated to push themselves and the initiatives won’t be as successful.

Digital rewards such as vouchers and gift cards for well-known brands are always popular.

A catalogue full of merchandise for the home and garden, technology, entertainment, family-fun, cookery and fashion, allows the recipient to choose which gadget is required to benefit their current lifestyle.

With global travel on hold for now, 5* event experiences that can be used within their own country will be welcomed.

If you are looking for inspiration on how to motivate your sales teams, please don’t hesitate to get in touch to hear our ideas, contact us today. Or check out how we have successfully implemented reward solutions in these businesses.