How To Motivate a Sales Team When Sales Are Down

August 30, 2023
How to Motivate a Sales Team When Sales are Down

When revenue is down, everyone is on edge. Maybe there’s an obvious reason—lower lead flow, slowing sales cycle, or a new product that hasn’t taken off. But sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint the factor (or factors) that have dried up your sales funnel. When sales are down, it can also be tough to motivate your sales team to push through.

But as a sales leader, motivated sales professionals are exactly what you need to get you over a rough patch. They won’t just sell more, they’ll be happier and more apt to stay with the company. In fact, engaged employees are 87% less likely to resign.

How to Boost Morale When Sales Decline

To motivate your sales team, you need to start by understanding what each sales professional finds valuable. Some are motivated by external validation or recognition. They want to be acknowledged publicly and stand out as a visible contributor to the company’s success.

Others are satisfied by reaching personal milestones and achieving goals. These folks don’t crave the spotlight and may not require the same type of external reinforcements.

Sales assessments can help you figure out each sales team member’s motivators and the best strategy for morale building during a downturn.​

4 Factors That Could Be Demotivating Your Sales Team

There are a number of factors that can suck the energy out of a sales team. Here are four reasons your team may suffer from low motivation.

1.   Lack of Selling Time and Boredom With Repetitive Tasks

Are your sales professionals spending too much time on administrative tasks? Do they have enough support for scheduling meetings, emailing prospects, or entering data into your CRM?

Research has shown that sales reps only spend one-third of their time selling on average. If your team is bogged down with unproductive and repetitive activities, they may feel like they’re simply not getting enough selling time.

Offloading admin to junior reps or support staff can free up experienced team members to do what they’re best at: selling. No matter what their motivators are, they will all welcome the opportunity to meet sales targets and performance milestones.

2.   Overcomplicated Sales Commission Rules

Sales professionals are less motivated to achieve their objectives when they don’t understand how their success translates into compensation. Make sure your sales team understands how they earn their commission. Better yet, simplify the process for them so they can visualize a clear path to their reward.

This will also minimize mistakes when calculating commissions. Overly complicated rules greatly increase the chance of errors. Streamlining rules and processes will take this demotivator off the table.

3.   Unclear Communication

Communication and motivation go hand in hand. It’s essential for each individual and the sales team as a whole to understand business objectives and sales goals and how they can contribute to the organization’s success.

To guarantee everyone is on the same page, provide regular updates about any changes in the competitive landscape and clearly explain sales targets for short-term campaigns and ongoing compensation schemes.

This will give employees an accurate understanding of what is expected of them and provide additional motivation to reach those goals.

4.   Lack of Sales Coaching and Limited Direction

Identifying areas of opportunity and coaching team members on how to improve can be a huge morale booster. If you aren’t offering advice and coaching, your team won’t know how to build skills or overcome weaknesses.

Sales training and one-on-one check-ins will help anyone who is struggling to gauge and upgrade their performance.

Building an ongoing sales coaching practice to evaluate and instruct your sales professionals will improve productivity and motivation. Your team will feel that you’re invested in their success through good times and downturns.

9 Tactics to Inspire and Motivate Your Sales Team

Here are nine sales motivation strategies you can use to keep morale high and ensure your team remains productive when sales are down.

1.   Build Trust

Trust is the foundation of a motivated sales team. When sales leaders engage with their team in an open and honest manner, they build trust in the short and long term. This means giving feedback directly, providing regular updates, and communicating both positive and negative news.

Doing what you have committed to and being straightforward about any obstacles to team success show you “walk the talk” and can be trusted.

2.   Invest in Sales Training

Nothing saps motivation more than not being able to do your job well. A sales training program ensures that your salespeople have the skills and confidence to perform at the highest levels.

With the right training, your team will consistently be able to engage prospects and customers, build credibility, have successful sales conversations that progress the sale, and close new business.

Give your sales training initiative the best chance of success by choosing a provider that’s the right fit for your organization.

3.   Reward Good Sales Performance

If your sales professionals are aware that they’ll receive sincere compliments, thanks, and rewards for exceptional work, they’ll feel their contributions are valuable and be motivated to keep the good work flowing.

4.   Find the Right Sales Incentives

The right incentives can help or hinder your sales team’s motivation. Bonuses and SPIFFs are always a great way to inspire sales professionals, but every team member may have a different motivator.

Remember that money isn’t always the best incentive. A day off, tickets to a show, family time, or a fun experience can be more rewarding and motivating. Here are some creative sales incentive ideas.

5.   Set Short- and Long-Term Goals

Setting daily, weekly, monthly, and/or quarterly- goals for your team can give it the immediate satisfaction of checking off smaller tasks and the motivation to keep aiming toward bigger objectives.

Daily goals are typically more focused on smaller, achievable tasks that help progress individual sales opportunities in a meaningful way. Examples of these types of tasks are: start five new conversations with potential customers or move at least four leads into the next stage of the sales funnel.

Longer-term goals generally involve larger objectives, such as securing three new customers or increasing overall revenue by 10%. These types of objectives require more effort and time to attain but have a greater long-term impact if achieved.

6.   Identify Issues & Provide Solutions

Each week, schedule a time to speak with each of your sales professionals to learn what’s working, what isn’t, and how you can be of assistance. Make sure to offer your team encouragement in the areas they have performed well.

7.   Hold a Contest

Sales professionals are competitive by nature. Hold a friendly contest to see which team member can reach a milestone first or make the best pitch. Or hold a cook off, pingpong tournament, or other non-sales activity.

Make sure the prizes are worth the effort, and keep the fun going. Sales is hard—an amiable rivalry can make the grind a little easier.

8.   Foster a Team Environment

Working closely with each sales professional individually is crucial, but regular meetings with your sales team as a whole are also valuable. Having a specific focus or objective for each meeting will make them more valuable and relevant. For example, hold an objection-handling session in which everyone shares common objections, and the team comes up with solutions.

Encourage peer-to-peer knowledge sharing. By encouraging your team and modeling this behavior, you’ll create a positive environment and supportive culture.

9.   Bring In The Fun

A great tip for how to motivate a sales team when sales are down is to break the stress cycle. You can do this by making regular time for your team to have some fun.

Although scheduling team-building activities and work parties after hours is fantastic, it also takes away from your team’s downtime. It may seem counterintuitive, but when  sales are down, don’t discount the positive effects of brief activities during work hours. Quick fun will break up the day and give your team the boost they need to get out of a rough patch.

What Can You Do?

When sales are down, leverage these strategies of strong leadership, effective communication, goal setting, recognition, and ongoing sales training and development to get your team back on track.

With these motivational tactics in place, sales leaders and sales managers can help lift their teams out of a slump and back into successful selling mode.

Learn More

If you’re looking for ways to boost your sales team’s motivation during challenging times, contact us to learn more about professional sales training from The Brooks Group.

Written By

The Brooks Group

The Brooks Group teaches straightforward, actionable sales training skills to sales managers and their teams. Our IMPACT Selling® Sales Training Program has been taught to over one million sales professionals nation-wide, and we've been recognized as one of the top sales training companies annually since 2010. We also provide various behavioral and selling assessments to aide sales managers making hiring or management decisions.
The Brooks Group teaches straightforward, actionable sales training skills to sales managers and their teams. Our IMPACT Selling® Sales Training Program has been taught to over one million sales professionals nation-wide, and we've been recognized as one of the top sales training companies annually since 2010. We also provide various behavioral and selling assessments to aide sales managers making hiring or management decisions.

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Ready to maximize the performance of your sales team? A representative from The Brooks Group can help get you started.