Re-energizing sales efforts in a virtual world

Author: 
Richelle Taylor

Is your sales team disengaged? This year, it’s hard not to be. We’ve quickly adapted everything in our work and personal life to respond to and survive within a COVID-19 environment.

According to Gallup, the U.S. work force experienced the most significant drop in employee engagement in 2020. Notably, the largest decline in employee engagement was among those working in managerial or leadership positions. While not all sales teams may be struggling with demand (in fact some technology companies are experiencing record years), disen­gage­ment seems to be prevalent across all organizations and industries regardless of financial success.

Disengagement among your teams is costly and the change must come from the top. You have the power to reengage your teams. How? By recognizing team members’ achievements and rewarding them for a job well done.

Recognition strengthens relationships

In late 2019, we surveyed more than 3,000 U.S. employees across various industries to determine the strength of the relationship between employees, their managers and their companies. We took a keen interest on those in sales roles. Using our proprietary technique, called rsX℠, we measured the trust, alignment and commitment within these groups. Our data shows that recognition is an invaluable asset to any sales team.

However, not just any type of recognition will do. Recognition needs to be both authentic and frequent. Our survey shows that employees place a high value on recognition they receive from their colleagues, too. As sales leaders, you can encourage and support this peer-to-peer recognition that’s so important to your team.

While service anniversaries are important, it’s smart not to wait until an annual milestone to recognize your employees. Consider “surprise and delight” gifts or points for a reward platform. These can be rewarded at any time — and more frequently — thereby increasing workers’ engagement levels.

Don’t rely on cash alone

The line between rewards and compensation can become blurred. Though cash may seem like an easy solution, research as far back as the 1970s shows that cash rewards are not as meaningful as non-cash rewards on a psychological perspective. The excitement of a cash reward wears off quickly when it is spent on bills and other daily expenses. This doesn’t bode well for your long-term reward and recognition strategy, and doesn’t do much to excite and motivate your team to help you reach your business sales goals.

Instead of cash, consider an online rewards program that makes giving and receiving easy, like One10’s Rewarding You platform. This allows you to reward your team with award points after they reach their sales goals. Recipients can redeem their award points at any time for a multitude of reward options. Since it’s all online, it’s also a fantastic way to quickly and easily reward your virtual teams.

Hit your 2021 goals

As you plan for next year, consider implementing a sales incentive program or series of “just in time” contests to keep team engagement and interest high. Sales incentive programs can establish, build and deepen relationships with your sales team and your channel partners, which leads to achieving your business sales goals and strengthening your bottom line.

Not all sales incentive programs are the same. They can be creative and fun, or even include gamification techniques. But, keep in mind, the best sales incentive programs are the ones designed with the end in mind. Determine your program goals first by asking important questions like “What are we trying to accomplish?” and “What’s the measurable objective?” Ensuring these critical questions are answered in the planning phase is one key to success.

Creating a culture of fairness is important in any sales incentive program. This means you must create a rules structure that clearly explains the participant expectations, what it will take for your team members to succeed within the program, and the rewards they will receive in return. The rules of your sales incentive program should be directly tied to your business objectives. This is how you move the needle, show program ROI and improve your bottom line.  

Richelle Taylor is vice president of strategic marketing at One10, which provides sales incentive programs, rewards and recognition, travel and events, and other performance improvement programs for its Fortune 500 clients.