How to Combat Disengagement to Put Power and Passion Back Into Your Sales Team

You’ve probably trimmed all the fat out of your budget and let under-performers go. You thought you were retaining the best and brightest, but now you’re fighting disengagement of even your (previously) most reliable employees.

Survey after survey describes an American workforce that’s disconnected and tuned out. Consulting firm BlessingWhite found fewer than 1 in 3 employees (29%) are fully engaged and 19% are actually disengaged. Gallup asserts that, “In average organizations, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 1.5:1.” And the Corporate Executive Board says disengaged employees are putting forth even less “discretionary effort” – at least 53% less – than they did a few years ago.

Just imagine if you could get your employees to start giving that 53% again… wouldn’t it transform your organization?

One area in which we see the serious consequences of disengagement is sales. To achieve sales goals and keep steady revenues rolling into your organization requires commitment to the sales role; in contrast, a disengaged sales team can pull even a strong company down.  It’s up to you as a sales leader to tap into your team’s potential to get superior results.

The good news is that with a little dedication and creativity you can put the power and passion back into your team: It’s about knowing the strengths of each individual on your team, determining what motivates them, communicating expectations, and being diligent about holding them accountable for meeting their goals.

Engagement Tip #1:  Communicate Expectations and Provide Support

For example, work with your salespeople to establish prospecting targets for the quarter.  (Make sure you have each salesperson’s complete buy in on targets set!) Then, help them build prospecting plans and follow up regularly with them to provide resources and support. If a salesperson lacks the sales skills to follow through, provide high-quality training and serve as a coach to help them use their new skills.

Engagement Tip #2:  Reconnect with Existing Customers

Encourage your salespeople to go on courtesy calls, survey customers and end-users of your products or services, or otherwise engage with their existing accounts. It will give them real-time feedback about what’s working and what isn’t. Time invested with customers – even if they’re not buying right now – serves to reconnect them with the products or services they sell and the people they sell them to.

Engagement Tip #3:  Put on the Positive Pressure

It’s a truism that “we rise to the level of expectation,” yet many managers fail to hold their salespeople accountable for results. If you and your salesperson have agreed on targets for qualifying prospects, completed sales calls, closed business, etc., you should have a systematic method of holding them accountable for meeting those targets.

Engagement Tip #4:  Reward Initiative and Innovation

The strongest performers actively seek improvement, and they expect it of themselves, their managers, and their organizations. Help your salespeople set ambitious continuous improvement goals, and reward them for trying new approaches. And remember, recognition for their ideas, being treated as experts at what they do, winning intra-office sales competitions, and even serving as mentors for others can be powerful motivators… money isn’t the only potential reward.

A warning:  It really is virtually impossible to win back truly disengaged employees.  Unfortunately, if your efforts yield nothing with a particular employee, it’s not worth throwing your energy away and it’s likely time to let them go. They key is to be alert for signs of disengagement so you can get the affected employee re-engaged and re-energized.