Understand the motivation of sales people 

A good sales leader not only succeeds in organizing the sales team well to achieve the goals but he or she also supports the team with the right tools to be successful. And still, the best sales leaders you recognize by the sellers themselves. If you look closely, you can recognise them by the spark in their eyes, the discipline at work and the motivation to reach target. They are not one-time performers but consistently perform well, even over a longer period.  

Is there a secret manual? And if so, can this be taught? 

There are several basic principles. Thus, a good motivator puts the other person first and realizes that each person is different, with individual wishes, expectations, and motivations.  

And there are many aspects to consider such as the fact that people can change. What used to motivate, it doesn’t have to be today. Also the intensity of motivation can change.  

Research shows that most people have one or two decisive motivators or drives, such as wage components, training, friendships at work. If you can define these motivators, you will have the basics to build your dream team of successful sales representatives.  

Furthermore, it is important to realize that managers can never keep all employees 100% motivated 100% of the time. That’s okay. If you can avoid demotivation and increase motivation – any win is welcome – the final results will increase with a multiplier effect.  

Most sales representatives will be open and transparent about their demotivators. Often these lie in a surfeit of administrative tasks and solving customer problems that contribute little to (more) sales.   

Motivators are often much more varied and harder to discuss. A good relationship of trust with the manager can make the difference.  

It turns out that sales representatives are surprisingly often driven by growth. Growth in the job, their career, the number and type of clients they can handle, etc. With this motivator, it is advisable to demonstrate how commitment leads to more possibilities. Providing a career path and delegating responsibilities will give this seller extra incentive. 

As a result, some sales representatives are stimulated by challenge. They want to win. These individuals are at their best when they are given visible appreciation for their achievements, when they can build on their strengths and their imperfections are glossed over.   

Some sales representatives prefer to work in a team, others need their independence. It is important to create situations where both profiles come into their own, by assigning specific projects: for example a project where you have to collaborate with a different department or if your manager wants to delegate a certain task to you.  

And we have to be honest, quite a few sellers think the pennies are very important. Therefore, reward plans need to be well aligned  with sales results, with attention to short- and long-term results and adapted to the sales strategy. 

Excited for some tips to share a sales strategy with your team by using a virtual sales kick-off? And to inspire and motivate them? Then read our blog ‘a virtual sales kick-off?

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Sales Kick-Off (SKO) going virtual?

Excited for some tips to share a sales strategy with your team by using a virtual sales kick-off? And to inspire and motivate them? Then read our blog ‘a virtual sales kick-off’.


Virtual SKO

Sales Kick-Off 2021 will soon be upon us, and this time , as we’re all working from home more, it’s highly likely to go virtual.

That’s why it’s imperative for you to know what engages and motivates people from a distance. How can you shift your salespeople’s mindset to align them with the strategy, objectives, process, content, and tools they need to succeed in 2021?

You can find out more about taking the lead in the aftermath of Covid-19 by watching our webinar.

Unique challenges

The annual SKO is your starting point for aligning your entire sales organization around your company mission, vision, strategy, and objectives. Just like previous years, your sales team will be wondering how they fit into your plans, and what you as sales leader are doing to support their effort and ensure they succeed. But things are different this year, because of restrictions on people meeting in person, in groups… at home, in the office, or anywhere you might normally go for a team event.  

Regular team-bonding activities and sessions are out of the question, because you’re not allowed to meet in larger groups. So what other activities can you arrange to build team spirit, and encourage and enthuse your sales reps?

5 steps to virtual SKO success

Step 1: Set clear objectives for your virtual SKO.

  • What’s the number one issue impacting sales efficiency that you need to address for the coming year?
  • What’s the main change or transformation you can implement to drive your sales organization forward?

Try to see the bigger picture when answering these questions. Working out how issues relates to your sales process will help you determine if need better planning, other talent…

Step 2: Define your program content.

Once you’ve set your objectives, you can use careful planning to make the most of your time and create content that aligns with your goals.

  • Ask yourself what questions your team are likely to have, and prepare your answers;
  • Can you arrange any hand-on exercises or breakout sessions?
  • How can you make these activities work in practice?

It’s worth running through your ideas in advance to iron out any issues that might arise and structure the SKO properly. Don’t forget: you also need to give your salespeople time to network or simply recharge sometimes.

Discuss all these questions and issues with your team, so they can help you find answers and make any necessary arrangements. Once you’ve formulated your SKO, you can reverse engineer the meeting.

Step 3: Find out what you can in advance.

  • Invite your salespeople to share customer success stories;
  • Record their best elevator pitches;
  • Provide team updates;
  • Etc.

Step 4: Encourage participants to get involved

  • Stimulate chat before, during, and after your keynote to gather questions and concerns from the floor;
  • Break out into virtual sessions so that people can discuss plans together.

Step 5: Outline what happens after the SKO

  • Work out the best way to ensure your plans for result-driven adoption and reinforcement are put into practice;
  • Think about execution and set up virtual sales initiatives to pave the way to success;
  • To improve your commercial performance by prioritizing your activities, read our checklist.

In summary

When asking yourself how a virtual SKO can drive results, it’s important to consider the following:

  • A virtual SKO is still a live event, so you still need to engage all attendees and make sure they get involved;  
  • The medium used to deliver the messages doesn’t change the outcomes – and the outcomes depend on shifting the mindset, explaining each salesperson’s the contribution, and following up implementation;  
  • The plan for what happens after the SKO is just as important as the event itself.  

Going virtual

To help you shift your usual SKO into a virtual one, you can consider shifting your SKO budgets for travel, accommodation, and networking into post-event sales effectiveness programs.

  • Investing in learning and coaching;
  • Develop the new insights required to carry out the new plan;
  • Focus on the skills that need to be reinforced;
  • Work out how to measure success.

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Why sales coaching?

Research by CSO Insights has shown that sales coaching enables sellers to substantially improve their sales skills and so win more deals. The second benefit is that it allows sales managers to shift their focus from simply helping people to do their work to actually developing their skills. Which is surely an advantage, isn’t it?

But how?

Sales managers need to use coaching techniques, tips and tools. Even though some may have a talent for coaching, many don’t know how best to go about it. Sales management coaching programs help them gain the skills and self-confidence they need to integrate coaching as part of their daily routine. Fortunately, there’s technology available to help them. Sales coaching software doesn’t just make it possible to personalise the coaching, but also to measure it by looking at the sellers’ individual actions, monitoring their progress and providing a visual representation to make things clearer, rather than simply using their own perception, gut instinct and experience.

Sales coaching tools

Coaching isn’t the same thing as providing solutions or giving everyone the same advice. A good sales coaching tool can chart progress and zoom in on the lowest level of knowledge, and combine this with the extent to which this knowledge is actually applied.

Sales coaching tools

It differs from eLearning or other content offered by Learning Management Systems (LMS) in this sense, because a sales coaching tool combines software for teaching sellers and ensuring they retain this information, stimulating behavioural change, making everything measurable, and providing suggestions for the management to reach the right conclusions and implement the right actions. Altogether, it forms an integrated solution that provides content exactly when it’s needed.

Enabling just-in-time coaching

This flexible (agile) method for developing sellers’ skills is called ‘Coaching Enablement’. It allows you to organise, manage and individualise coaching while ensuring sellers retain the information they’re given. It also provides dashboards for sales managers, higher management and HR. This means HR can now measure, support and adapt each employee’s development and the impact they have. Peer-to-peer learning is also provided.

A good example of this is ‘video pitching’, where the seller records an answer to a client situation using their smartphone, which can then be used as coaching input for the sales manager, and good examples can be shared with other team members. This enhances the performance of the whole team, contributes to continuous development and improves team spirit.

Enabling just-in-time coaching

The main advantages of just-in-time coaching are:

  1. Identifying possibilities for personal development
  2. Building self-confidence
  3. Strengthening desired behaviour, knowledge and skills
  4. Installing a culture that stimulates continuous improvement for each individual and the team
  5. Measuring the impact on sales results

Read more about agile learning, knowledge retention and just-in-time coaching

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Even before most customers go to a supplier, they have gathered information and seek an answer to specific questions. A traditional salesman who displays his excellent product knowledge in his sales pitch and who has mastered the conventional negotiating techniques does not meet his quotas anymore. An exceptional salesman, on the other hand, knows in which buying phase the customer contact has arrived, understands the situation and is able to give advice. It takes three things to turn any salesman into an exceptional salesman: content, technology and a continuous learning process.

Content

To illustrate his words and continuously learn about the product range and its possibilities, the salesperson needs the right content, sufficiently flexible to be combined and supplemented at his own discretion. The content is created in a dynamic process so that other salespeople always have the most recent knowledge and documents at their disposal as well. Content creation becomes one of your principal sales support processes so that your salespeople constantly improve their knowledge and adapt to any customer situation.

Technology

Your seller needs software not just to be able to show the content in the right manner, but also to be able to consult the most recent information on the customer in advance. CRM should be more than an automated filing cabinet or tedious administrative work. It should support the seller in doing the right thing at the right moment with the right contact. Sellers should use the tools willingly and constantly so as to store and share knowledge as well as to review their own actions. This brings us to the third aspect of our topic.

Continuous learning

The learning process of each seller should also become part of the corporate culture. Your sales team needs permanent training and coaching. Everyone considers it normal that the best athletes have to train and are coached on a daily basis. This is also necessary for sellers whose environment changes continuously. Their own products develop, the market changes, the customers evolve and the competitors are not sitting back and doing nothing. A seller who acts as a talking catalogue is not much use in this context. To be a good adviser, they need to be able to count on your support. Training and particularly coaching are more important than ever. Empathy and commitment to the customer are capacities which require lifelong learning.

These 3 elements ensure better and deeper relations with customers and will make sales talks more relevant than ever for the customer.


I often hear that customers have changed drastically in recent years. What has actually changed is their way of interaction. Your sales, marketing and products have to adapt to this evolution, and a number of pitfalls may show up in the process.

1. You do not send the right message

Most websites I visit are continuously referring to ‘we’ and the benefits of working with ‘us’. This is of no concern to the consumer as he is looking for answers to his questions. Customers are obviously influenced by the information they find online, so you should take care that they actually get answers. Such content will make customers feel more connected and committed to your company. Step into your customer’s shoes and check whether you get answers to the questions that may occupy customers during their entire purchasing cycle.

Research has furthermore shown that prospecting costs (cold calling) have quadrupled over the last five years. You can counter this by fostering customer confidence online in accordance with their purchasing activities (buyer’s journey). How? By focusing on how the customer will be impacted if he decides to work with you. So do not talk about yourself too much, and preferably not all.

2. You focus on selling solutions

Solution selling used to take centre stage in the sales process. This is no longer the case in the current age of the customer, as the customer has already formed an idea of his solution before the seller is involved in his buyer’s journey. Customers get irritated when they are told things they have known for quite some time during a sales meeting.

The customer is therefore not waiting for a diagnosis or solution from your salesperson. Your sales department needs to have a thorough understanding of the customer and his situation. Based on this information, the salesperson can modify or enrich the customer’s view during the sales meeting. This furthermore needs to be done in line with the strengths of your company and product offer. In other words, the sales department needs other skills than in the past. Sales activation and support are indispensable in this regard.

3. The product never takes centre stage

The customer needs to see a clear reason to opt for you. However, if you focus too strongly on the product or service, the customer is not involved in the process and you do not support him in his buyer’s journey. It is important that you know your customer’s profile and develop an optimal solution on that basis.

Most salespeople have a better understanding of their product than of the customer’s situation and environment. Especially companies based in Europe have this problem. The fact that your product is better than the products of your competitors is not the message you want to send out.

4. You train your salespeople on the basis of product trainings

When asked how they train their salespeople, most companies answer: ‘with product trainings’. This is in fact not the right way. We already know that customers have formed an opinion before they come in contact with the seller. The risk is that your salesperson may try to convince the customer, or even worse, enter into a discussion with the customer.

This is the result of sales trainings which focus on what you are selling and why you are better than the rest. The more you lash out against the competition, the more you encourage customers to opt for the cheapest solution. So in the worst case you decrease your margins yourself. This is why you need to teach your staff how to explain the impact to the customer.

5. Your data are not of high quality and you do not segment sufficiently

Companies obtain the best results when they segment their market potential on the basis of common needs and challenges. Companies with a wide range of products and/or services can combine this strategy with a vertical market approach so as to make their message more clearly recognisable.

For example: you sell products that are ideal for companies with a large number of branch offices. Companies in the banking sector and the retail industry have a lot of branch offices and buy on the basis of common needs. There is only a difference in the terminology used (shop manager versus branch manager); the underlying message remains the same. A layered approach enables you to increase the reusability of marketing and sales support (cost reduction) and makes it easier for your salespeople to adapt during the meetings. This will also have a positive effect on your margin and win ratio.

Please note that a good segmentation does not suffice; you obviously need to have an excellent database as well. A reliable process to complement the segmented database on a continuous basis is indispensable in this respect.

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Solution Selling is very common jargon used in many sales organisations. Companies that have introduced this method have gained a competitive advantage as a result of the way in which their sales people are successful in formulating the value for their customers.

This is how you sell solutions:

  • Discuss client needs using open questions, creating a vision and a solution together with the client. This gives the seller the greatest possible impact on what the client will ultimately buy.
  • The packaging of products and services in such a way that a total solution is created to satisfy client needs. A classic example was Apple with iPod and iTunes in contrast to a normal MP3 player.

Trend reversal: more power for the customer

The internet and social media have brought about an important shift in the way people are informed and how they make their purchase decisions. Since a a couple of years we have seen a trend reversal which has undermined the impact of Solution Selling. The customer now has the power. It’s no longer the sales process that counts; the purchasing process (customer journey) now has the upper hand. Welcome to the Digital Era. Customer interaction and sales discussions have to be different now to achieve good results.

Not just information, but conversation

You can still achieve a sustainable and competitive advantage in this new digital era. But now your customer knowledge forms the basis for the development of new products and services to satisfy the increased needs of better informed customers. Your marketing and sales don’t provide information so much anymore; instead they go into a conversation to improve the customer relationship with more engagement. A better experience and the proven impact of your solution will result in a higher margin and lower sales cost.

Difference between Solution Selling and Buyer-Aligned Selling

SOLUTION SELLINGBUYER-ALIGNED SELLING

What is the starting point?

As a ‘consultant’, make it possible to discuss requirements and guide the customer in their thought process until the specific solution is bought.Ability to question the customer’s beliefs and provide new insights to complete the picture.

Which process is required?

Your entire sales organisation using a proven sales process. All your activities and measurement systems must chart and improve its effectiveness and application.A dynamic buying process based on customer experience. Enable sales & marketing to adapt to the buyer’s mental phase of purchasing at any moment. Internal processes and measurement systems are designed to take the right action, at the right time and involving the right people.

What’s important?

Ask the right questions to discuss the challenges that can be resolved by the solution you are offering. The strengths must be explicit and demonstrable from the structure of the approach.Empathy with the customer situation and for everyone involved the use of language specific and adapted to the role and industry. This demonstrates an attitude which shows that helping the customer is the highest priority.

What knowledge is crucial?

Knowing the relationship between the customer’s challenge and the strengths of your products and services.Broad understanding of the customer situation: environment, challenges, aspirations and requirements.

What skills are crucial?

Prospecting, questioning techniques, listening skills, diagnosis, and persuasiveness.Customer focus, relationship-building, ability for concrete visualisation of your offer’s value and impact as well as the capacity to influence the willingness to change. Social Selling and the right mix of digital and human touch points are crucial elements in this.

What is the relationship between sales and marketing?

Marketing supports sales, and the two are aligned. Marketing ensures that both the customer and the seller are informed. Marketing generates leads for sales.Both are integrated and fully designed to match the customer’s buying process. As well as generating leads for sales, marketing is also responsible for the conversation with the customer and increasing engagement with the customer target audience.
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  Procrastination comes in different guises. 3 steps to avoid procrastination
  Dealing with Late Cycle Concerns


European start-ups would benefit from looking at their English-speaking counterparts’ approach. Brits and Americans tend to focus on promotion from day one. They make sure their target audience becomes aware of their product while continuing to develop it. Belgian start-ups, on the other hand, for example, will invest every last cent on product development in the hope that the product will then sell itself. This is a typical European mentality, and it doesn’t only apply to start-ups; we also see this in product launches from established companies.

The problem isn’t just down to budget allocation. In Europe we often wait too long to recruit employees for our marketing communication department. And when they do come, they have to be real all-rounders: people who can organize lots of different events, create PowerPoint presentations, write press releases and direct marketing and whitepapers, get the right photos – all while not losing sight of Google ratings or neglecting social media. It’s surprising that we don’t specialize in marketing communication more, especially considering we have done in sales for so long already.

Raise awareness before your product is ready

Almost nobody is waiting for products from a start-up. A hard truth. If you launch a product without first raising awareness, nobody will be there, eager and waiting to buy it. Everyone has to go through the same buying cycle process before they are really ready to buy, so it makes sense to raise their awareness first.

Be patient, because this process can take some time, depending on how complex your product is and how urgently your prospective customers want to find a solution for their associated problem. This means you have more time to continue developing your product while preparing the market for launch.

To create awareness at a very early stage of the sales cycle, you can for example invest in whitepapers and distribute news through the press or social media. As long as you’re only spending your marketing budget on media you can use for content that makes customers think about their challenges, and what solutions they need to resolve those problems, then you can already tell them how you can make the difference (without any explicit explanation of the product itself).

Sales will thank you

When you prepare your potential customers properly at an early stage, you make life much easier for your sales department:

  • they have leads ready as soon as they go to market
  • they achieve higher success rates from the very start
  • the cost of sales is considerably reduced, compensating for the marketing budget you’ve already spent