Five Strategies to Keep Your Sales Team Engaged

Office team laughing and drinking coffee and eating pizza together in the office breakroom.

Engaged Salespeople Achieve More

With turnover costing more than you’d ever want to calculate, it’s no secret that keeping top salespeople happy is good for business.

Consider the following strategies when leading your sales team.

Strategy #1: Top salespeople need a good push.

Achievers love new challenges. They want to stay with an organization, but in order to do this; they need to be stretched in some way.

This could come from a new role, exploring new terrain or being challenged by additional responsibilities.

They need to be pushed to reach just beyond their current capabilities. If you can help them become better, give them fresh problems to solve, more responsibility, or additional roads to explore; your chances of extending their tenure with your firm will increase.

They will remain with an organization where they can stay engaged and immersed in activities just beyond their current capabilities. (For more insight, check out The Talent Code, Greatness isn’t Born It’s Grown by Daniel Coyle.)

happy faces employees

Strategy #2: Understand the drivers that motivate your salespeople. Current research concludes that Gen X and Gen Y are more likely to need praise than prior generations.

Executive leadership must create opportunities for them to develop new skills and take the time to understand what is driving their career objectives.

Here are the most common motivators for sales professionals: compensation, public recognition, incentives, purpose, autonomy to make decisions and leadership/skill development.

Strategy #3: Empower top sales performers. If you include your top sales reps in the decision making process, seek their input on new initiatives, and employ their good ideas, they are more likely to feel integral to the team.

When your reps believe that they have helped shape company policy, actively directed change or facilitated even minor improvements, they feel significant.

Strategy #4: The strength of consistent communication. One of the top complaints of many sales reps is their lack of accessibility to their sales manager. Unreturned phone calls and emails don’t go unnoticed. Your rep might not confront you directly, but they notice the behavior.

If you aren’t engaged, chances are they can easily become detached from your mission.

Pulling priorities sometimes leave reps at the bottom of the call-back list, don’t make this mistake too frequently or you might wind up calling back too late, only to find they have decided to move to another organization.

Strategy #5: Set a higher standard for the group. Be willing to exemplify the behavior you want your sales team to embrace.

Creating and maintaining a sales force that holds everyone accountable for bringing in new business and carrying their share of the group quota is a great way to build a winning team.

Hiring and developing a peer group of high achievers is one of the fastest ways to raise the level of the entire sales force, and will yield meaningful progress towards your revenue goals.

Surrounding your great reps with other ambitious sales pros eager to bring in new business, sends a clear message to everyone: “Get after it, hurry..hurry.”

Copyright © Optimal Sales Search. Optimal Sales Search recruits technology sales professionals at the mid, senior and executive levels. Visit our website at www.OptimalSalesSearch.com for sales hiring tips, articles and checklists that can help you hire better sales talent, faster.

Three Things You Can Do Now to Stop Damaging Your Company’s Reputation

Red umbrella facing pelting rain.

Does Your Organization Have a Bad Reputation?

The days are both long and short, the calendar is crammed with back-to-back calls and meetings.

Another trip is right around the corner. There is staff to hire, performance reviews to give, forecasts to write up, and a dinner meeting with staff tonight.

With so much to do, post-interview activities are easily rationalized away and are often left undone at the bottom of the to-do list.  The last thing you feel like doing is calling Mike, and telling him he isn’t a fit for your sales opening.

Let’s face it, it’s easier to ignore Mike, move forward with your top two applicants, and get ready for tonight’s dinner meeting.

Although you may save time today by not following-up with Mike, or any of the other candidates you’ve interviewed over the years, the long-term consequences will be harmful.

Three Common Post-Interview Mistakes that Damage Your External Reputation

#1 Failing to Get Back to Candidates Who Have Interviewed —The average candidate has spent more than five hours researching your company and preparing to meet you.

They have taken un-paid time out of their day for the interview, and deserve to be notified when a decision on their candidacy has been made.

If you are able to provide specific feedback on their interview, fantastic. Even generic, “We have decided not to move forward with you,” statements are appreciated.

With practice, relaying feedback can take less than five minutes.

If the hiring process has been drawn out without any definitive decisions, at least let the interviewee know where they stand.

Ignoring applicants who have interviewed and didn’t make the final round is a big mistake.

If you promptly cut them loose after a decision has been made on their candidacy, they will be able to invest their efforts into more fruitful opportunities.

sales reputation management

#2 Focusing Exclusively on Today— Although your internal reputation is naturally the immediate focus of today, remember that your personal external reputation will come to light months, quarters, even years from now.

The job market is fluid and very few people stay with employers more than five to seven years.

Chances are high that you will find yourself sitting down in the interviewee chair sooner than you think.

It’s even probable someone you have interviewed in the past works for one of the companies you find yourself interviewing with.

Wouldn’t it be a shame if you weren’t seriously considered for the job because you failed to follow-up during the post-interview process? (Like it or not, as a hiring manager, this is a part of your job!)

One way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to conduct yourself professionally both during and post-interview.

It’s also a good habit to stay in touch with people you have formally interviewed as you continuously build your network.

Don’t think because you are a hiring authority today that you will be immune to the fickleness of tomorrow’s job market.

#3 Forgetting Your Actions will Formulate the Company’s External Reputation—As part of the pre-interview stage, today’s applicants visit popular online sites (i.e., Glassdoor) to research an organization’s interview style.

These sites house information posted by current and former employees, as well as selected and non-selected applicants.

This intelligence is intended to aid anyone interested in an organization and is frequently reviewed by job seekers before or during the interview process. Stored in the public domain, posted opinions will aid in further promoting or destroying your organization’s external reputation.

Whether you acknowledge it or not, this searchable content does impact candidates’ decisions to interview with your company.

Never underestimate the power of the written word and its’ impact on your organization’s ability to attract talent.

Aldous Huxley wrote, “There is no substitute for talent. Industry and all the virtues are of no avail.” When it comes to attracting the best, your organization’s behavior is more transparent than it has ever been.

Those managers who consistently allocate just a few minutes to post-interview follow-up are successful at building long-term equity for their organizations and their careers.

If the interview process is not properly managed, you may wind up missing out on the very people you need to ensure your future success.

Work Hard to Protect and Foster Your Employer Brand

Work to quickly extinguish missteps in the post-interview process and you’ll gradually watch your employer brand improve. And over time, your sales recruitment results become more profitable.  


Develop this #1 Sales Skill for Interview Success

A small pug dog with thick glasses that look like goggles and a tie with a collar. The dog sits next to a brown leather brief case.

Essential Sales Skill: Listen Up

With the average attention span shortening over the last hundred years from 20 minutes to 9 seconds, staying focused during a conversation has become more and more difficult.

BBC News reported, “The addictive nature of web browsing can leave you with the attention span of nine seconds-the same as a goldfish.”

Enduring conversations where people can’t get to the point, or even answer your most simple questions without going into another 15 minute story becomes exhausting.

As our attention span erodes, it is increasingly important for sales professionals to stay aware of the old truth that hearing isn’t listening.

Whether you’re conducting an interview or on a sales call, improving your active listening skills looks something like this…

Use body language to demonstrate you are listening— Affirm the speaker with appropriate facial expressions including eye contact and affirmative head nods.

Attention has become more rare, so giving someone your full attention is valuable and will be appreciated by your audience.

Avoid showing your distraction—Don’t check your phone (even quietly under the desk), read your computer screen or shuffle around your papers.

These gestures make your speaker feel that you are bored, uninterested or distracted.

Ask a few clarifying questions—This will not only show that you are listening, but help you interpret what your speaker is trying to communicate.

Asking for clarification ensures you leave the meeting understanding your speaker’s message, and simultaneously assures the speaker that you’re listening.

Everyone gets time to speak and listen.  Hogging all the air time is annoying. Monopolizing the conversation makes you “salesey” and downright boring. Work on making smooth transitions between listener and speaker.

Roles should be shifting back and forth naturally in most conversations. When it’s your turn to be the listener, concentrate on what is being said while shutting out thoughts about what you’re going to say.

Interrupting is a bad habit. Ever have a bad case of “meeting déjà vu?”

You know it’s happening when you find yourself jumping ahead of the speaker since you’ve most likely worked through similar issues hundreds of times before.  

Listening becomes more difficult, because you think you know where the speaker’s thoughts are going.

When you feel yourself getting antsy to interrupt, pause, take a deep breath, and let the speaker complete their thought before you jump in with a response.

Learn the Art of Paraphrasing—If you’re not in the habit of paraphrasing, it may seem awkward and even unnecessary at first because you “get it.” (C’mon, you’ve done this a million times before, you know you get it! Right? )

However, restating what the speaker has said in your own words, has proven to be an invaluable communication tool.

Don’t believe it? Try it!

When you take the time to restate what you’ve heard, the speaker will clarify and continue to educate you on any points that you “didn’t get.” You’ll be surprised about what they want to iterate.

Taking the time to really listen makes anyone feel heard and understood.  

This is exactly the experience you want prospects and clients to have with you.  In a world full of distractions, attention has become scarce, and therefore more valuable.

Give it freely to your prospects and you will become more interesting to them. Your relationships will be stronger, you’ll win more business, and make more money.