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Beyond The Commission: How To Help Your Salespeople Love Their Job

Beyond The Commission: How To Help Your Salespeople Love Their Job

Whether you’re questioning the happiness of your reps or just want to be proactive, consider trying out each of the following ideas to keep them passionate in their day-to-day roles.

Companies want their sales teams to be productive. They hope they’re competitive. They also like it when salespeople are relentless, charming to customers and persuasive enough to close a lot of deals. Whether they’re happy or not only tends to come up . . . well, when they’re not.

It’s not always that difficult to spot a sales person who’s deeply unhappy, for example. It’s that rep who rarely shows up on time, who never seems able to meet, yet isn’t hitting their quota and who has to be nagged about following up on the leads they’ve been given from marketing.

Perhaps even worse, though, is a salesperson who seems happy enough but is relatively unengaged with the company. They put in their time, perhaps meeting many of their goals, but they aren’t connecting to the company’s mission or key objectives. If a better job came along — maybe even if it paid roughly the same — they would probably be quick to jump. There’s little to motivate them or make them excited about being the face of the company to customers and prospects.

Sales team happiness is sometimes considered as a whole, when managers try to see if there’s a correlation between deals signed and the group morale. Making them love their job might seem like an unreasonable responsibility, given all the variables involved. And yet, this is exactly what great sales coaching tends to produce: a renewed sense of purpose and fulfillment that can become a defining moment in a rep’s career.

Reaching that point is a matter of being as thoughtful and strategic as you’d be in developing any other goal in sales, from building up a bigger pipeline to hitting a specific revenue target. Whether you’re questioning the happiness of your reps or just want to be proactive, consider trying out each of the following ideas to keep them passionate in their day-to-day roles:

Start an open dialogue (that stays open)

Most sales managers dread having to conduct annual performance reviews, because it means looking back over a ton of details they’ve struggled to remember about each rep over the course of the year. Reps don’t necessarily love them either, because they often feel like they’ve been sent to the principal’s office at school.

Part of the problem is that performance reviews can be rare events, which both increases the pressure to deal with any issues while making it almost too late to deal with reps who have fallen out of love with their jobs.

Boosting a sales pro’s happiness becomes a lot easier when you have a more regular conversation — not just about their accounts or their win rates, but a more holistic check-in. Think about doing this in an environment other than an office or a windowless conference room. Have a weekly walking meeting. Go downstairs to the local coffee shop. Even a virtual hangout might be effective for reps who are often on the road.

In terms of what you should talk about, consider some of the following questions:

  • “What did you learn from a customer this week that intrigued you, excited you or made you want to learn more?” People who love their jobs are attuned to what customers are saying.
  • “When’s the last time you said to yourself, ‘Nailed it!’ And how could we help make that happen more often?” Showing an interest and enthusiasm for a rep’s achievements builds trust.
  • “What’s keeping you energized when you’re not selling?” Get to know the rep’s hobbies or pastimes, volunteer or philanthropic efforts, and offer encouragement where it makes sense, recognizing that a healthy life includes a mixture of work and play.

Brief a sales rep like you would a customer

When companies launch a new product, strategic direction or give back to their communities in some way, they tend to outline the details with much fanfare to their biggest customers. These sessions treat the audience as the VIPs they are, with plenty of details and proof points that help get them on board with the company’s latest moves.

Before that happens, though, there are sometimes internal briefings that are far less compelling. They might be filled with more negative comments on what might go wrong, the challenges to overcome and even some cracks about what customers don’t seem to understand about the company.

Great sales coaches recognize that building buzz within the company is critical if you want to build any outside it. Reps in particular should not only feel fired up about the strategy but that they are integral partners in executing it. Win them over like a customer and they’ll be more likely to love sharing that mission and purpose once they’re standing in front of customers again.

Use data to evolve beyond sales enablement to sales empowerment

Talk to someone who says they love their job and they’ll likely mention that they feel a great sense of autonomy and control over what they do and how they do it. One of the great side benefits of using technology to drive revenue is how it can give reps a lot more tools to be masters of their destiny.

Don’t just demand reps input data into CRM, for example. Show them how to pull out the data into visualizations that teach them something about the opportunity to crush their quota. Show them how to apply context around the data, like how they’re not merely selling but helping customers tackle their biggest problems. Give them the kind of training that lets them create a plan of attack not unlike the way an entrepreneur would write a business plan to launch their own company.

The more you put these ideas into practice, the more you’ll notice they actually lead to bottom line results, including more sales and therefore better commissions for reps. Beyond that, however, they’ll instill a deeper drive to bring value in the work they do every day — and a love for being a part of the company that eventually sets the example for everyone else who joins the team to follow.

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