How to Hack Your Team’s Sales Motivation (or How to Motivate Your Sales Team)

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Gallup says that only 13 percent of employees are engaged at work.Hacking Sales Motivation: How to Motivate your Sales Team

13 percent!

When reading that, I almost don’t believe them — but having worked at Gallup for several years, I know that their numbers are accurate.

And here is another interesting number to consider:

In most companies, 13 percent of reps generate 87 percent of revenue.

Do you suppose it could be because the top 13 percent are actively engaged in selling and performing in a way that drives revenue and growth?

This is not a hollow question, but a serious concern for managers ready to take their sales teams to the next level.

Hacking your reps’ sales engagement

 A while back, I put together a post about hacking your sales hiring process.

When I consult with companies, I often find that organizations, whether they realize it or not, frequently adopt a hack-to-data-driven-process.

It goes something like this:

  • Notice a problem or a need
  • Think of the simplest thing you can do to fix it
  • Hack a process or a plan together in a day or two
  • Test the hack out
  • And then …

See the problem?

Too many companies need help moving beyond their initial hacks to a more sustainable — and profitable — data-driven approach.

Especially when it comes to motivating sales team performance.

The engagement hack

Too many companies take their engagement hacks too far in the wrong direction.

Just don’t.

Don’t make your reps wear a silly hat or a crazy wig to stand on their desk when they perform. These sorts of traditions are more likely to embarrass most people. Embarrassment doesn’t motivate. It demotivates.

There are some simple traditions that can highlight a rep’s work and make him or her feel special. One of my favorites that we actually use at our headquarters is the ringing of the sales gong. There is nothing like hearing the sound of that gong again and again on a hot day when the floor is on fire.  ringing-the-sales-gong

The double-edged sword of a spiff

Any sales manager has likely had the experience of handing out cash or other prizes on the sales floor.

Spiff programs and bonuses are great. And they definitely have their place on the sales motivation spectrum.

As long as the bonus or spiff is truly reachable by the entire sales staff, a certain percentage of your performers will rise to the occasion to earn the prize. Spiffs are great for blitz campaigns, to make up the short end of a month, or to simply inject a little life into your sales floor as needed.

But there are cons to relying solely on a hacked spiff program to carry your sales team motivation entirely.

Spiff costs can snowball over time, and too often the investment in additional bonuses results in diminishing returns.

  • Sales reps get jaded easily, and over time, bonus rates must be raised to achieve the same results smaller bonuses once did.
  • At least a portion of the  sales team holds a common perception that no matter how hard they try, the better reps will win and dominate the awards — and there is some truth here. Top reps often enjoy advantages, such as high-quality leads, stronger pipelines and more refined skills. But if half of your team checks out and ignores the contest, the overall results are weakened and can even be demotivating.

Gamification aligns reps’ focus with the company’s focus

If you really want to motivate your people long-term, then you need to study the latest research on game mechanics.

Game mechanics certainly enhance contests and bonuses, but also propel success between spiffs because salespeople love to keep score.

One of the fundamental principles of effective game mechanics is that employees will stay more motivated when score is kept in a visual way. Measuring your team’s KPIs and keeping a running score of sales leaders every day is a great thing to display on your floor.

Hack it

There are two ways to display a scoreboard hack-style.

First, you can manually update a Google apps slide that can be shown on a TV screen on your sales floor. Seems like a lot of work to do this by hand — and it is — but I’ve seen it pay off. One of my clients diligently built an elaborate visual board using PowerPoint and Excel. He keeps it updated, and it works like a charm.

A second option would be to create a dashboard from your CRM and display it on screens around your floor. This type of dashboard doesn’t require as much manual effort as the Google app, but, to be honest, it still might not be ideal.

Research tells us that visual cues are very important in office gamification. With some dashboards, if you aren’t standing close to the screen, you might not be able to tell what is being displayed.

Can you imagine going to a professional basketball game and having a scoreboard above the court that is so small you couldn’t even really see it?

Of course, reps could just access the dashboards or Google app on their own screens, but there are two major losses incurred going this route:

1)   You lose the large-scale visual appeal of the scoreboard.

2)   You lose 10 percent to 20 percent in productivity switching between apps.

Plus, keeping score is really only one of the principles of a quality gamification strategy. Without the ability to award points, achievements or badges, you miss out on a great opportunity to provide consistent, positive feedback for performance. Without the ability to facilitate peer-to-peer competitions, you miss out on the opportunity to create a really engaged culture.

If you want to move from hacking your team motivation strategy and play in the big leagues, you will need to seek out a more data-driven approach.

Data-driven motivation

Today’s gamification platforms are a lot meatier.

They do more than just display achievements, structure competitive throw-downs, and track points and KPIs. leaderboard halek

Thanks to predictive analytics and machine learning, some gamification platforms now use data and science to personalize the motivation experience to each individual sales rep on the system.

We often talk about motivating a sales team, but neglect to recognize that a team is made up of individuals — and individuals are moved by different kinds of motivation according to their personality, their communication patterns and the cultures they identify with.

For example, I like organized sports. I thrive in a competitive team environment. Competing against others is an excellent motivating force for me. Others, though, might like to self-direct their motivation. These reps are more like avid rock climbers; their adrenaline rush comes from competing against a system and themselves more than competing against others. Sending the wrong message to either of these personality types can actually cause individuals to disengage, rather than engage.

The uniqueness of performance management needs to be managed.

It can be using data and science.

Tailored to individual reps, the gamification system can send private motivational signals while the entire team is propelled forward by the public scoreboards.

Leveling up

Are you ready to up your game and drive better performance by motivating your team?

The first step for any organization is to gain a clear understanding of your reps’ performance curve.  Identify the KPIs and leading sales indicators that can be tracked and ultimately contribute to closed deals. Then adopt a data-driven approach that takes into account the different needs of different salespeople.

Your sales floor is only as good as the people selling on it. Motivating your reps with gamification techniques and science will ensure that your sales department gets a significantly higher return on its investments.

Learn more about the gamification of work and how to motivate your sales team with the free ebook below:

Sales Motivation and Gamification eBook

Free eBook: How to Use Gamification to Motivate Your Sales Team

Gain access to Ken Krogue and Chuck Coonradt’s best practices to motivate and gamify your sales process.

Gabe Larsen Inside Sales

Image credit: nist6dh

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