If your sales stop, so does your business. And regardless of your company’s structure, the people who perform your sales function need to be nurtured because their job can be a tough one, wrought with failure, rejection, and frustration. To keep salespeople engaged, they need to be encouraged and supported. Here are some top tips.

1. Give your sales people encouragement and recognition. That doesn’t mean the sort of gung-ho ‘psyching up’ you’d give a sports team, but specific encouragement: “I really like the way you’re doing ‘X’ lately.” That sort of public encouragement is fuel for a sales person’s soul. Mark Twain said “I can live for two months on one good compliment.” Salespeople live on compliments, too.

2. Drop the word “why” from your sales meetings. “Why” questions put people on the defensive. Instead of blame, open a dialogue on “how” to overcome the objection and “what” might be done to close the sale. Replace “why” with “what” or “how.” For example, “Why didn’t they buy?” can be replaced with “What was their main objection?”

3. Treat your sales team like a team. By eliminating competition between or among your sales staff, you put them on the same team and they start helping each other sell more. Sales teams work best when they function as a team, not when they’re competing against each other. The other company is the competition, not your own sales people!

4. Use the rule of three. People tend to remember lists of three things, so using the ‘rule of three’ is a good way to set standards in your sales team. Examples might be: three review sessions with the sales manager per week, or three sales leads per day. However it works for your company, try putting things in threes.

5. Know what motivates each individual. The point is that what motivates you may not motivate everyone on your staff. Your people will become energised when you take time to find out what trips their triggers and then act on it.

6. Have a system and make it a habit. Most sales operations can be quantified into a very learnable system. Writing out the flowchart and reviewing it until it becomes second nature helps your team “stay in the groove.” Periodic re-examination of the system is also a good idea.

7. Reward the “no’s.” Too many “no’s” can bring a sales person down, especially when pressured for sales. But a no today often leads to a “yes” tomorrow, so rewarding staff for working the whole system is motivational. Remember, “no” is just part of the sales cycle. For example, offer some sort of reward for every 20 “no” responses a salesperson gets.

8. Keep it fun. Many salespeople find sales fun, but get worn down with all the pressure and negativity. By keeping things fun, your sales team gets reinvigorated and will enjoy coming to work.

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