Some of the fondest memories I have as a salesperson come from being recognized for my efforts.
I remember once returning to the office with a signed contract and a check from my client who was paying for one year’s service in advance. I remember the incredible sense of accomplishment and pride I felt as I received a standing ovation from the entire office and the personal congratulations of many of my colleagues.
Even though that was over 20 years ago, and even though I can’t remember the amount of the contract or my commission, I can clearly remember how great I felt at that moment.
I can also remember, just as clearly, many other occasions where I received recognition for a job well done. Those feelings provided fuel for my efforts, helped propel me towards success, and are still a source of positive energy and motivation.
The fact is, people like to be recognized. And, salespeople in particular LOVE to be recognized. Recognition from their peers, their team, their boss, and even the competition is one the major sources of motivation for top performing sales people.
If you want to motivate and encourage your team, then recognize their efforts. Don’t hold back on the praise. It costs you nothing. But done effectively, it rewards and motivates those who receive it, and encourages others who also want to join the winner’s circle.
As a sales manager you need make sure that the recognition spotlight is continually shined on your team, and not pointed at you. If the people on your team feel that you aren’t giving them the recognition that they are due, or that you are taking credit for their successes, the effect will be a massive drop in your team’s motivation.
Now, it’s only natural to want to take a little credit for some of your team’s success, especially when you were involved with or supported the achievement. The problem is that others may not perceive your efforts as being important, or may view the recognition you receive as somehow taking away from theirs.
Human psychology is kind of funny that way. We tend to view our successes as having been mostly the result of our own efforts. At the same time, we view our failures as being caused by others or by external factors.
The psychological term for this is attribution bias. This means we are biased in how we allocated blame for our failures and take credit for our successes.
So, if you, as a sales manager, help someone on your team close a deal, you may feel that you were a very important part of the process. But your salesperson may view things differently. They will most likely think about all the work and preparation that went into getting the meeting and may consider your help with the close as not that critical.
Just as I remember the times I’ve been recognized, I can also recall the times when I felt slighted or not given the recognition I felt that I deserved. I can remember once a sales manager giving our colleagues a play-by-play account of how he helped me close a deal.
I felt he was playing up his role while down playing my efforts. I felt that I came off as being almost incompetent in his portrayal of how we had landed the business. What I most felt was that I couldn’t trust the sales manager because his actions after the deal was closed seemed selfish.
Whether or not my feelings were accurate, is beside the point. It was my perception at the time and it resulted in lower motivation for me and damaged the relationship I had with my sales manager.
The other factor to be aware of is that most people view recognition as a zero sum game. That is, there are a fixed number of slices in the recognition pie, and if you take one for yourself, it results in one less for your team. The fact that this isn’t true doesn’t matter. Perception amongst your team is what matters.
That is why effective sales managers make it a habit to recognize the people on their team for their notable wins and exceptional efforts. At the same time, they try to act with humility and deflect recognition away from themselves and on to their team.
Leaders that do this well will have motivated and loyal teams. These are the kind of sales managers that attract the notice of others and who have lines of salespeople wanting to join their organization.
Some useful methods to recognize your team include the following:
- Announce all new deals over a fixed dollar amount to your team by email.
- Send a weekly team update to your team highlighting any new deals or exceptional efforts.
- Have a short weekly meeting to recognize individuals who have closed new business.
- Ask your salespeople to tell the rest of the team how they found and closed the account.
- When someone signs a new contract with a client, have your whole team stop what they are doing, stand up, and applaud the person’s victory.
- Send out a weekly report showing the top performers in terms of revenues, or number of clients, or in terms of key activity metrics.
- Take the top performing or your most improved salesperson to a nice lunch once a month
- Ask your team how they would like to be recognized for their efforts and then try to accommodate their request.
There are really unlimited ways to give praise and recognition to your team.
So make it habit to regularly recognize the wins and efforts of the people in your organization. Remember! You are not the star. You are the cheerleader.
This article is included in the ‘Leading and Coaching High Performance Sales Teams‘ development program that was created by Mark Shriner, Will Linssen and Marshall Goldsmith.
For more information on Leading and Coaching High Performance Sales Teams, and other leadership-development programs using Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching, please email: email@example.com