8 Sales Coaching Tips for 2015

If you’re having problems with unmotivated salespeople, it might be time to rethink one or two aspects of your sales coaching strategy. Many leaders erroneously think of motivation as a system of balancing rewards with punishment, alternatively meting out bonuses or threats in the hope that unmotivated employees will become more productive. However, numerous recent studies, based on Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deci’s Self Determination Theory, have shown that this type of approach simply doesn’t produce long-term results. Instead, think of sales training not in terms of punishment versus reward, but in terms of engaging employees and meeting the psychological needs that translate into improved motivation and performance.

8 Sales Coaching Tips For 2015:

Let go of the punishment-reward system

Motivation is driven by need—some needs are internal, like peer acceptance, and some are external, like food and shelter. The punishment-reward system is ultimately futile because it’s about meeting (or denying) external needs on a short-term basis. Effective and consistent motivation is driven by internal needs, not external needs. For instance, if sales executives within an advertising sales organisation only have a monthly commission to motivate them – with no internal needs being fulfilled – they will be easily tempted by other job offers simply giving them a higher commission and move on. This will translate in a high staff turnover, which will put pressure on the company’s recruitment, training and sales departments, resulting in loss of profits.

Understand internal motivation

Internal motivation, in which an employee is driven by psychological desires, occurs when activities are inherently satisfying, or when performing them satisfies a need that the person considers important. For example, an employee might work hard on a task they genuinely enjoy, or on a task they don’t enjoy but which has to be done to complete an important project.

For most people, motivation is driven by a combination of three psychological needs: competence, relatedness, and autonomy, and an effective sales coach can help employees fulfill these to improve motivation.

Help employees develop competence

Employees need to feel valued for their skills, experience, and knowledge, and have opportunities to develop and demonstrate their skills. Opportunities for education and advancement are therefore powerful motivators. For instance, a senior sales person with great skills might be motivated by getting involved in training new recruits or setting up a sales training program for the company. Their competence will be highlighted by the fact that they’ve been specifically chosen for this task, which will in turn give them higher gratification and allow them to dip into a new sales field, which they might find rewarding.

Facilitate relatedness and team-building

Most, but not all, employees have at least some level of need to collaborate with co-workers. Team projects allow employees to spend part of their time fulfilling this need. Setting up a special sales task force to penetrate a new market can allow a new team to be formed with specific objectives and a new leader. This can create new collaboration, enhanced opportunities for individuals and great rewards via the attainment of the group objectives.

Allow and encourage workplace autonomy

Complete freedom is rare in the workplace, but the desire for some degree of autonomy is a powerful need, and employees that have some flexibility in the way they do their job tend to be more highly motivated. Employees should have meaningful choices that allow them to actively make decisions about how best to go about their work. Company and individual goals and guidelines should be structured to allow for this. For instance, autonomy can be enhanced by allowing sales forces or people to discover new markets within their sectors and developing a business plan to target those – or simply by giving a successful team the opportunity to choose their team building activities for the year.

Understand the employee perspective

Effective coaches tend to have a high degree of empathy, and can instinctively see things from another’s point of view. It’s a crucial skill to have for supporting internal motivation because it allows a coach to understand the combination of factors that motivate each employee. In practice, this can only be achieved by maintaining good channels of communications with regular reviews throughout the year.

Engage in informative communication

Some leaders make an art form out of using plenty of words without saying anything meaningful. A good coach takes the opposite approach and engages in meaningful conversations, providing employees with the information they need to understand their jobs, and make productive choices. Communication should always be about providing information and making connections, not about passing judgement or handing out reprimands.

Give employees choice

Workplaces need structure, but that structure should support employee autonomy, not take it away. Employees that have a certain amount of freedom to decide how to structure their workdays and perform their specific tasks are more highly motivated, more productive, and enjoy higher job satisfaction too.