Sales is one of the more stressful jobs within entrepreneurial companies. This particular job category (according to Money magazine) is more likely to make you rich. But it's also more likely to make you depressed. And to cap things off, others really hate salespeople.
All of these factors can affect your sales operations as a whole -- especially business-to-business sales -- demoralizing employees, making them less efficient and at worst prompting them to jump ship. When employees see that your product isn’t flying off the shelves, what results is a poor overall working environment. Talk about "summer slump."
Wondering how to combat these problems? Try the following tips to keep your sales teams focused this summer.
1) Set up a rhythm your team can march to.
SalesLoft, a sales software company based in Atlanta, created a "cadence" product specifically to help salespeople maintain a rhythm of emails and call-downs to potential clients; the software has built-in flexibility so managers can change that rhythm, should that be necessary, to keep their salespeople on task. Included is a structured email template that each salesperson can edit to personalize and nail each pitch he or she is sending. The intent, SalesLoft says, is to not restrict salespeople to a strict rotation of things to do, but to get them "marching to a natural beat" that stops them from losing their focus -- and fire.
2) Send fewer emails. Make fewer calls. Strive for quality, not quantity.
When sales teams are hitting a slump, some reach a point of desperation where they begin smiling, dialing and spamming. This may seem like a good idea, if you don’t think about it; hopefully, one of those hundreds of emails may hit home, but you won’t create great clients out of them. Halve the number of sales emails or calls you’re making and get the team focused on researching targets to a minute level. It’s the sales equivalent of “less haste, more speed.”
3) Keep them motivated -- beyond money.
Money’s a great way to encourage people to work harder, especially in a commission-based job (or a scrappy startup heavy on equity): You have to appeal to the emotional part of a person. Avanoo, for example, gained clients like KPMG and Toyota by creating high-quality videos, where leading experts both teach and motivate employees "in just three minutes over the morning coffee," to quote the company website. Though a video isn’t going to save your entire company, it may prompt the smile an employee needs to make that one call that seals a deal.
4) Practice a little office (and home office) Feng shui.
Though I’m not recommending that you reposition your entire office based on spatial philosophy, a physical environment that brings out the best in your employees is beyond important. This can be as simple as making sure your workers have lots of natural light to work in, or a place to unwind throughout the day. It may be as complex as saying that certain employees who work remotely have to take a day a week out of the house, so they don't suffer emotionally.
5) Be the field general when the going gets tough.
When things begin to slow down, bring an almost spiritual leadership role to the business, to net rewards. Kyle Porter, CEO of SalesLoft, tends to align his sales reps with a “higher order.” “We help them to learn more, do more and become more, as well as aligning them with our vision and the importance of our summer numbers,” Porter told me. “We show them how our solution is changing our customers' lives -- and reward the heck out of them, with [rewards] ranging from 'rainmaker'-logo socks to 'rainmaker' Porsches.”
Though both cheap and expensive goods can be a motivator, the philosophy is the same: In a slump, get your salespeople thinking about a higher purpose than their next paycheck.