Working in the sales environment can be one of the most demanding, rewarding and thrilling workspaces out there. As a salesperson, I do not think that there is anything quite like closing your first deal. Then there is the same customer reordering within a few weeks of their first deal.
The pleasure and stress of joining a new company as a sales consultant can be daunting. Especially when the company is a start-up business in America, and you must virtually create a whole new client base, with the added pressure of achieving sales targets or making any sales at all. When one’s experience is predominantly based on face to face direct sales, adapting to a virtual sales strategy can be challenging, let alone entering an entirely new industry. It can pull at the strings of your self-esteem and capabilities as an experienced salesperson. The timeline of joining a company is always crucial because the longer it takes to close a deal, the less confidence your new employer has in your capacity to be a successful salesperson.
This is exactly how I felt a little over month into my new role, having not closed a single sale for the company. After 6 weeks of nothing, and getting used to the American accent, cultural differences, and colloquialisms, dealing with clients from another country. I began to doubt myself. My self-confidence was shaken. I started to question my experience, and whether I was indeed a good fit for the position. Any salesperson with tell you that having thick skin is a part of the game, but even the toughest salespeople have their outer exterior scathed every now and then.
Nevertheless, like all things in life, it is always darkest before the dawn. Finally, my first lead was easily and quickly closed. It was a small order of 75 units but well enough to give me the boost I needed to push myself even harder. Which also came with a pat on the back from my COO. That, for me, is always a great motivator.
Then, within the next few days, a second lead of mine closed. A modest 25 units, but still an order. The most vital thing that came out of my second order was a positive review. The client positively praised me on my sales etiquette to one of the business partners.
Staying on my winning streak, after weeks of running email campaigns targeted at various industries, a positive response from one of my email campaigns for a much more substantial order of 250 units.
Two wins here, one from a successful email campaign and my largest order so far.
Valuable lessons learned
The important lessons I have learned from my recent achievements:
- The first is always stay hungry and to stay motivated, even when the initial results show otherwise. Hard work and perseverance never go unnoticed.
- The second lesson is from my COO, which is to not to be afraid to ask for referrals from clients.
As salespeople, we tend to want to achieve results on our own accord, but there is no harm in a little help from your client base.
With the current state of the world it is extremely difficult to stay motivated – even the most driven people struggle.
Staying motivated to achieve sales targets in any climate can be taxing. Managers and supervisors can get frustrated and use methods of motivation that may be detrimental rather than effective, such as negative reinforcement. I personally do not respond positively to negative reinforcement and having managed a small sales team for a few years, neither did they.
A great demonstration of this is shown in a Netflix series called 100 humans that experimented with this theory in an episode named Pain versus Pleasure. This episode centers around how humans respond to criticism versus praise, and which works better.
Criticism and praise
The participants are tasked with spinning plates on a stick, and there are two rounds. In the first round, participants are either criticized or praised for their performance, regardless of how well they perform. The results from this round show that individuals that performed exceptionally well but were criticized, lost confidence, and performed poorly in the second round. Whereas the participants that performed poorly in the first round but were praised excelled in the second round. This experiment proves that despite the performances, positive reinforcement was more successful in motivating the participants than negative reinforcement.
Tried and tested methods
It can be frustrating to keep everyone motivated under normal circumstances, let alone during a pandemic, primarily when targets are not being met. Here are a few examples on what I have used in the past and my tips on what keeps me enthusiastic to reach or exceed my sales goals.
- Praise for small wins – I received praise by a simple phone call from my COO for a closed deal from a personal sales lead. Even though it was a small order, it showed that every bit of my effort was appreciated and drove me to close an even bigger deal. This can be used at every level to reassure your team that their hard work does not go unnoticed.
- Tiered targets – Having a target for a set timeline. I have used a 3-tier quarterly incentive approach with a large bonus for the top salesperson, a local holiday trip for the second tier, and a valuable prize, such as a laptop for the 3rd tier prize.
- Performance based commission structure – Not only do you reward your sales team fairly, but it also drives under-performing sales team members to thrive especially when their colleagues are receiving higher commissions. It also instills a level of healthy competition within the team.
Innovation and creativity
However challenging this period may be for your sales teams, innovation and creativity needs to be a massive part of your motivation strategy. Having regular check-ins and listening to your team’s suggestions on what motivates them is vital. The most important thing is to try and test various methods with your team to find out what works, whether it’s a pat on the back or something more tangible.
I believe that it goes without saying that if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business.