Business development is not an easy job, and managing and motivating prospecting teams is just as taxing. A sales development rep places around 36 calls per day, sends around 37 emails and about 15 voicemails. They deal with rejection day in and day out, and need to permanently think out of the box to be able to connect with the right prospects.
According to recent research, sales development representatives have an average annual quota of $658,000, and quota attainment is at only 64 percent.
Needless to say, business development takes grit – and business development managers know this.
We asked seven seasoned sales development executives what strategies they use to motivate their team, and how they keep them on their toes when it’s needed.
Here’s what we found.
Create a Connection
This is one strategy most leaders put on the top of their list as the most effective management strategy. Employees always work best when they can trust their leader.
“Get to know each of your team members – their goals, likes, dislikes, etc. Match those items with the objectives of the organization so they always know how they are affecting the overall company, and how their actions at work will help achieve their personal goals,” said Bob Wiedower, Vice President of Sales Development and Military Programs at Combined Insurance.
You can create a connection by listening and sharing personal feelings and stories about their personal life, and by having a sense of humor.
“Remember the teacher that you really liked in the 8th grade, the one you wanted to please? You always had your homework done for her class because you liked her, you did not want to let her down. You had a connection. This is what a great leader does, they create a connection,” told us Bryan Clayton, CEO at YourGreenPal.
Leading From the Front
Other leaders believe that success is achieved through “leading from the front”. Leaders need to take a proactive, rather than reactive approach to maximizing the impact of sales manager and rep performance, believes Cameron Essalat, VP of Sales for MindTickle.
Sales gamification was also a top choice for sales development leaders. Friendly peer competition, badges and leaderboards have been shown to help onboard new sales reps, engage them and boost productivity.
“Competition is fierce in the talent market. In an environment where workers can move fluidly from one opportunity to the next with little downtime, companies need a strong focus on engagement,” told us George Elfond, CEO of Rallyware.
The budget for prizes does not have to be substantial. Movie tickets or dinner outings for two are ideal to show recognition, because they offer experiences, rather than material goods.
One more tip on gamification is to remember that public recognition is always better and more memorable than material rewards.
Permanently Train and Review
Practice and constant training are the best way to improve results for a team, and this was high on the list of tips for sales management for many of the leaders we interviewed. “Practice, practice, practice”, was the advice we got from Dave Mattson, president and CEO of Sandler Training.
“Your team needs to create their playbooks and you must constantly review them. Once that is done, put on your “training hat” and make sure your team knows the scripts/talk tracks inside and out,” said Dave Mattson.
“Once that is done, then your coaching hat needs to come out. Listen to calls, provide feedback using the commend/ recommend/ commend model. When coaching, ask questions using the well, better, different model – what do you think you did well; areas you could have done better; and what do you need to do differently,” he added.
Finally, managers need to create behavior plans and establish the behaviors/activities needed each hour or day, to succeed. “If you do the behaviors the results come,” said Dave Mattson.
Just-In-Time Training (JITT)
Companies need to ramp up sales development reps quickly and make sure they are productive. Most of the time, they cannot afford to spend two months just for training. This is where just-in-time training comes in.
“In today’s fast-paced business environment employees want and need training that can be easily accessed and quickly consumed the moment it’s needed on the job. For sales teams, this becomes a number one requirement. The ability to learn just in time, as well as to receive timely feedback, for example on their sales pitch, are helping companies significantly increase their sales KPIs,” said Mike Rodriguez, speaker and author, leader of Mike Rodriguez International.
Live Talks vs Digital
Mike also added that technology needs to make our lives easier, not to replace our ability to be more effective. Sales coaching, or any kind of training for that matter, is best done in person.
“If you have a personnel issue, there is not a better way to miscommunicate and dilute your message than by sending an email, text, or instant message. In its basic form, it is cowardice to avoid a live talk for personnel matters,” he added.
“Don’t take the easy way out and don’t be lazy. Your best impact is to always talk in person or to pick up the phone,” advised Mike Rodriguez.
Install a Culture of Empowerment
Empowering people to make an impact in the business and making their own decisions is also high on the list of tips from sales development leaders. Installing a culture of empowerment leads to a positive, high performing team, told us Justin Hiatt, VP of Account Development for Workfront.
“When a level of empowerment is high, your ability to retain talent and achieve quota is also high,” added Justin.
Know the Difference Between Micromanaging and Accountability
Effective leaders know how to steer clear of micro-management, or excessive involvement, while making sure there is accountability for each team member.
“One of the great challenges with teams today is that we have lost sight of accountability, prompting people to confuse accountability with micro-managing. I see this on a daily basis, leaders who fear holding people accountable because they don’t want to be perceived as micro-managers.”
“I also see employees who defend their lack of accountability by falsely claiming as the self-proclaimed company spokesman – ‘We are being micromanaged.’ It’s a chronic problem that needs to be corrected today,” said Mike Rodriguez.
Create a Clear Path to Advancement
One of the major problems in sales development organizations is that people feel “stuck” in their career. Leaders need to make sure there is a clearly defined career path to sales or management.
“A best practice is to create a tiered promotion system, where people can move up in-role based on performance and skill development. The final tier should define someone as ‘sales ready’,” said Justin Hiatt, VP of Account Development at Workfront.
“Putting people in control over their own career progression improves retention and performance as well,” he added.
Sales leaders can’t be expected to keep their team motivated if they’re burned out themselves.
“It’s tough to stay motivated when rejection happens frequently throughout the day. My suggestion to sales leaders is to fall back on self-compassion – and hopefully compassion within your sales team/corporate culture. To draw on self-compassion, give yourself a break regularly,” said Leah Weiss.
This is one strategy to keep your sales development reps awake during work hours. Albeit, there is a chance it will keep them awake at night as well. We got this one from Chris Lipper, CEO and managing member at The Alternative Board.
“As the leader of a sales team, it’s important to let your team know that you’re always on the lookout. It’s not so much that you’re always hiring, but that there’s an unspoken threat – if they don’t keep up, they can be replaced,” said Chris.