There’s no secret about it: happy employees are productive employees. However, not a lot of American employees are happy. According to a Gallup poll, a whopping 51% of workers are not engaged by their jobs and a full 17% are actively disengaged, which, in layman’s terms, means this:
They hate their jobs.
To add insult to injury, according to a similar Gallup poll, disengaged employees cost the American economy up to $350 billion in lost productivity.
Sales jobs in particular are subject to a high level of dissatisfaction, ranking as number three in CareerBliss’s list of “Unhappiest Jobs” according to Forbes. It’s not necessarily a surprise. On a day-to-day basis, sales can be filled with rejection, frustration, rude customers, and lofty or seemingly unattainable expectations. Commision-based pay means that salespeople don’t get paid unless they sell. Despite these challenges, there are steps that a business can take to create an office culture to maximize an employee’s sales potential.
As a manager, it’s likely you have best practices that guide your sales team. However, your sales employees are the ones in the trenches and interacting with leads. In essence, they are your most valuable resource for feedback. If the sales team is underperforming, it is vital to learn what obstacles they are encountering. Perhaps there is a disconnect with marketing. There could be an issue with the channel they are using to reach the customer. Giving the sales team a constant voice in the processes your company has established will truly set the stage for re-evaluating and improving your best practices.
A great way to compile this feedback from your sales team is to send an email survey. According to Inc.com, this method typically yields about a 70–90% response rate from employees. One way to get a high response rate? Put an incentive in there. For example, when an employee fills out a survey, put his or her name into a raffle for a prize.
In short, empower them!
Try to keep feedback open. This Forbes.com article found that managers often use anonymous feedback systems so that employees can feel safe and comfortable sharing their opinion. However, the article argues that open feedback allowed for more effective follow-up with individuals. Also, it’s easy to misinterpret anonymous feedback without knowing the context of a person’s position in the company.
Once you collect the feedback, be transparent about what you learn! Whether it’s a white board wall in the office, a company-wide email, or a staff meeting, aggregate the data and share the survey results with your employees. Transparency makes everyone accountable for their actions, and accountability builds trust amongst employees.
Keeping an open line for feedback isn’t the only way to empower your workforce. Being democratic and involving employees in company decisions, giving them opportunities to lead others on specific assignments, and presenting them with new challenges and opportunities all contribute to empowering your employees.
Lack of motivation is one of the primary reasons for an ineffective salesperson. Sweetening the pot beyond just commission is an effective way to light the sales fire. Some businesses reward sales teams that reach certain goals (monetary or otherwise) with company trips to a baseball game, travel to a resort or a cruise, or extra paid time off. In addition to rewarding the team as a whole, individual employees who excel should receive additional perks like preferred parking, upgraded office space, or a healthy bonus.
Kevin Baumgart, CEO of Hireology, buys cool office gadgets and toys in addition to bonuses for reaching certain sales metrics. Chair massagers, bean bag chairs, cube art, and ping pong tables were all added to the office, rewarding sales employees who are on-site.
Another company, Fuelzee, had a “no” contest. Sales people kept track of all the “nos” they received in a week, and the person with the most “nos” received a $100-gift card. Sound silly? Their reasoning was: “The more ‘nos’ you get, the closer you are to a ‘yes.’”
Celebrate Your Sales Team
We all like to recognized for hard work. The benefit of recognizing your employees for a job well done is two-fold. For one, it engages them more with their work. A Study of Employment in the Canadian Workplace asked employees what leaders could do more of to improve engagement. 68% of respondents replied “give recognition.”
The other benefit is to decrease employee turnover, saving money on the hiring process. The State of Employee Recognition found that “Organizations with recognition programs which are highly effective at enabling employee engagement had 31% lower voluntary turnover than organizations with ineffective recognition programs.” In short, employees want to be appreciated.
So, how can you recognize your employees’ good work?
Creating a weekly or monthly newsletter that highlights employees and good news in your company can go a long way. Did one of the members of your sales team just close a huge client? Make it public. Did a new employee close his or her first sale? Sweet, put it in the newsletter. Choose an employee to spotlight in each of these company newsletters. One final benefit: When other employees see success from their colleagues, it’s a wonderful motivating factor and can drive friendly competition.
Build a Community
At work, it’s very easy to feel as though you’re alone, stuck within the confines of a cubicle while making calls to cold and warm leads. There are many ways to create a company culture that thrives on community so no one feels excluded. Citrix, the company responsible for GoToMeeting, has an office space made mostly of glass walls. All desk space is on wheels, making it easy to collaborate and move around the office. This allows for open communication and transparency (quite literally).
Outside of the office, helping the local community through company initiatives, like volunteering with Habitat for Humanity or at a local soup kitchen, will encourage team building and interaction between employees. In fact, Huffington Post found that 88% of millennials gravitated towards companies with Corporate Social Responsibility programs — programs designed so that a business gives back to its community.
While the statement “keep employees happy” seems simple, the nation-wide dissatisfaction statistics tell us that it’s not top priority in many companies. Developing a business infrastructure that values employees and their well-being is integral to sales success. Perhaps this quote by W. Clement Stone sums it up the best, “Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman, not the attitude of the prospect.” Keep them happy!