Leading an effective B2B sales team is less about managing productivity and more about managing mentality. If the attitude and mindset of your team are healthy, productivity is a byproduct. As sales managers and leaders, we need to be mindful of how quality salespeople are motivated and make sure we are feeding their emotional beast in a way that yields high performance.
The question is: How are we as sales leaders investing in the culture of our department in a way that fosters healthy mindsets and inspires high performance?
A healthy, high-performing B2B sales team needs to be built on three pillars: compensation, competition, and comradery. These are three simple yet measurable foundations that, when built upon, will inspire your sales team to maintain the highest level of productivity and performance regardless of circumstance. The trick, however, is to hire salespeople you can motivate in these tangible ways.
In my interview process, I always ask candidates several questions that get to the root of what motivates them. I need people who are motivated by money (compensation), driven by performance (competition), and encouraged by teamwork (comradery). If these fundamentals are not significant motivators in a person’s life, he or she probably isn’t a good salesperson and will either crumble or be crumbled by the following three pillars of a successful B2B sales team.
Pillar #1: Compensation
If you want to see an interview end quickly, watch a salesperson tell me their number one professional motivation is “helping people.” Call me heartless, but we all know the best salespeople are coin-operated machines that only want to eat what they kill and kill what they eat. That does not make them greedy monsters – it makes them effective salespeople.
Let me break it down for you. A sale is a transactional experience. It is literally the exchange of something of value for something of value. For salespeople to truly participate in this transaction, they need to be incentivized to do so. That incentive is called “commission.” They trade their ability to successfully sell in return for payment. Value for value.
You have to understand, compensation equals participation. This philosophy seems so simple, yet so many organizations get it wrong. We as sales leaders need to make sure we are doing everything we can to invest meaningful thought into the compensation style and structure of our salespeople. Keep in mind: Financial incentives should go far beyond a basic commission for a sale and receiving a bonus for hitting a goal – although those rewards are crucial. Compensation can and should bleed into every task requested and required of a salesperson.
The most effective way to get salespeople to do what you want is to incentivize them for the exact behavior you desire. Make them view productivity as monetary. If you want to see your salespeople become experts in the areas you believe they lack, connect improving those weaknesses to their compensation structure. With salespeople, creative compensation will equal completion.
Pillar #2: Competition
If you want to achieve something great, you have to measure every step along the way. Simply put, that which is measured is accomplished. Competition is an essential piece of accomplishment because competition – by its very definition – is measuring one thing against another. The best salespeople are driven by measurable comparison. They measure themselves against their competitors, their colleagues, and, most importantly, themselves. Just as it would be unwise to hire a salesperson who isn’t motivated by money, it is equally foolish to hire salespeople who aren’t competitive.
Competition, in its purest form, is an obsessive pursuit of better results. The beauty of a competitive sales team is that the standard of excellence is constantly being elevated. Competitive people are wired to be better, to do better, and to link success to improvement. What a gift to sales leaders!
Pillar #3: Comradery
Comradery is the healthy view of a team. Comradery sees the value in others that fills the void of self. Comradery is the pleasure and security taken from working with others to achieve a common purpose. Motivation, safety, and protection are found within a healthy team, and the greater the investment in a culture of comradery, the more confident and higher performing your team will be.
It is so important that your sales team, more specifically, is healthy because it is the engine that drives the organization. It not only markets and sells the product but it is the public, visible thermometer that reflects the culture of the company.
It’s no coincidence that the word “comradery” is used as a military expression. There is no way a soldier would enter a mission without the support, security, and guidance of his team. The same is true in any business or organization. The beauty of a team fueled by comradery is that it takes people with limited ability and creates a unit of limitless potential. As Dale Carnegie said: “Team is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”