Keeping your sales team motivated can be a difficult task for even the most experienced manager. The naturally-competitive environment can mean that people who aren't faring as well as others can soon lose their confidence when it comes to closing the sale.
At the other end of the scale, there can be a huge amount of pressure on those at the top to continue their reign.
Understanding the role of both individual and team goals in sales can be one of the biggest challenges for managers. Both are important and can heavily impact your success rate, but how do you get the balance right?
Mike Schultz, President of RAIN Group, which focuses on training salespeople to improve performance, is a renowned consultant on how to empower your team to close more sales.
The Rainmaker Principles
Schultz found that the salespeople achieving the most success shared some key traits, which he has dubbed the 'Rainmaker Principles'. But how can they help you and your team?
Play to win-win
Salespeople at RAIN respect their prospects and clients whilst also trying to meet their expectations (win-win), but they are also being driven to be top performers (play to win). By listening to what customers actually want, your team will have a much higher success rate when it comes to lead conversions and will naturally become top performers. Nurture this passion and drive within your salespeople and you'll notice a difference.
Live by goals
Schultz highlights the importance of setting goals and letting them guide your team. This is nothing revolutionary for sales departments but making them a key part of each individual's daily routine is crucial. There's little point putting targets in place if there are no progression checks or follow-ups.
In this same vein, top performers at RAIN realize that goals are useless if action isn't taken regularly to meet them. Encourage your team to analyze their daily activities and see how this has helped them get closer to their goal. It's no good just talking about what needs doing without putting the effort into doing it. One of your key roles as a leader is to motivate them and remove any obstacles that may be preventing them from hitting their targets, but this will be useless unless they put the legwork in.
Think buying first, selling second
Rainmakers base their selling techniques on the psychology of buying. This allows you to get inside the minds of your personas and identify the pain points you can address. Doing this will also allow your team to be more prepared and informed when it comes to dealing with issues the consumer may have that would prevent them from closing.
Be a fluent expert
They say knowledge is power and this is something Schultz and his Rainmakers live by. He says top performers are masters of "market knowledge, customer needs, their products and services, their value, their competition, and everything else they need to know to succeed at selling". Ensure your team have all the information they need to make convincing ambassadors of your company. Do regular check-ins or survey to find areas where further training may be necessary.
Create new conversations every day
Having conversations is one of the most important parts of a salesperson's job. Rainmakers are always focused on their pipeline and how to further improve it. This should be at the foundation of your sales team and their individual goals should reflect this. Encourage them to go out and find new leads, start new conversations, and make new connections.
Lead masterful rainmaking conversations
Schultz says the top performers at RAIN understand the power of a good sales conversation and how to engage a lead in one. This is a crucial part of closing a deal, generating possible customers and identifying where more management may be needed. Make sure each member of your team knows the kind of conversations they should be having with leads and how to turn this into a sale.
Set the agenda; be a change agent
Rainmakers "recommend, advise, and assist".
Empower your team to feel free to speak up where they see change is needed. You can do your best to understand the day-to-day activities of the team but they are the ones having contacts with leads and their insight is invaluable. This means you need to create a culture where their voices are listened to, understood and addressed.
Not all sales are easy, in fact most of them come with their own obstacles and challenges. This can be especially difficult if your team need to step out of their comfort zone to address the problem. Rainmakers "seek actively to win the most fruitful sales opportunities no matter how difficult the challenges may be". Ensure there is a support network in place so they have the confidence to make these sales and get the most from the team around them.
Assess yourself, get feedback, and improve continuously
Competitive and driven, sales isn't always a friendly place to be. Sometimes people need to hear something unpleasant to improve their performance or expand their skill set. "Rainmakers are never afraid to learn the cold, hard truth about themselves", according to Schultz. Having regular progress checks with staff can allow you to give them this guidance in a personal environment. However, it's important that you give them steps to help them improve rather than just criticizing what they are currently doing.
Making it rain
By implementing these skills into your own sales team, you can help each individual to realize their potential and close more deals. They may sound simple but encouraging each and every one of your salespeople to act on it can be a massive challenge. As a manager, you need to understand the different personalities in your team and help them find the best ways to embody these principles of sales.