Discover What Motivates Your Sales Team

October 24th, 2016 by

According to, “It’s important to keep your salespeople motivated, and it’s one of the best ways to keep your sales flowing.” As writer Thomas Steenburgh explains, to motivate salespeople, companies often “stage grand kickoff meetings to announce new bonus programs. They guarantee exotic trips to rainmakers. When business is slow, they hold sales contests. If sales targets are missed, they blame the sales compensation plan and start from square one.”

Unfortunately, many short-term, fly-by-night tactics don’t work — especially when it comes to small business sales. So, we asked business leaders across the nation to share what works best for their organizations, and here’s what they had to say:

  1. Create an open ‘sales’ culture.

“Encourage an open culture. The primary element is an openness to letting your sales professionals fail. The reality is that goals are stunted by a fear of failing. Sales professionals tend to be inherent risk takers and when we create an environment that enables them to take more risks they get energetic and super-motivated.  The icing on the cake is that your sales team will begin to set huge goals, think outside the box and go places other companies aren’t willing to go, which will result in a significantly increased bottom line for you!”

– Bob Elster, CEO and Founder of Potential – Executive Coaching and Speaking: @BobElster

  1. Roll up your sleeves… and sell.

“Dive into the trenches, and be a part of your sales team. Every CEO would gain a massive ROI on time spent, by spending just 10 minutes a day making sales calls side by side with your sales team.  From my experience, this will motivate your sales team and help take sales to the next level.”

– Miki Segal, CMO of JMAC Supply: @msegal3

  1. Remember: Energy, excitement, and payoff.

“Motivating a sales team is about energy, excitement and payoff. By approaching the day with energy, you will encourage your team to do the same; this will result in higher call volumes, better conversations, and ultimately greater results. By responding to your sales teams questions and updates with excitement, you will in-turn keep their morale up and encourage them to close deals with the highest margin. By ensuring proper payoff through, both, cash and praise you can [motivate] each employee to [strive for recognition]. Through energy, excitement and payoff you can keep your sales team sharp, motivated, and yielding the highest possible results.

– Scott Selenow, President and CEO of Immerse Agency: @Scott Selenow

  1. Lead by example.

“Demonstrate how your sales team must treat their own managed client accounts; they should provide exceptional service and take a personal interest in each and every customer relationship. This is how you generate lasting connections and accounts that will generate significant revenue for many years to come. This drives a sales team because it works; it’s the right way for sales people to conduct business.”

– Michael Valve, Founder and CEO of The Expert Institute: @TheExpertInst

  1. Communicate with your sales team.

“Keep yourself immersed in the sales process and day-to-day struggles. It is tough to be empathetic, lead your team, and make strategic decisions without critical information about what is happening on the ground. Not only is it important to schedule meetings for information sharing, but it is also important to have some sort of ‘fire alarm’ point-of-contact so you can assist in problem-solving, immediately.”

– Jaimie McFarlin, Executive Director of AdmitLink Consulting: @AdmitLink

  1. Organize weekly sales meetings.

“The best thing to happen to our sales team was when we decided to organize a weekly meeting where [we] I sit down with them and talk about everything that went great for the week, and things that need to be improved upon. In these meetings we go over the goals we want to hit for the next week, we listen to the personal needs of the team, and we set up a plan of action. We also keep a pulse on customer feedback. You can learn a lot about how your sales team is doing based on customer feedback.”

– Dana Case, Director of Operations at @MyCorporation

  1. Change your business development model.

“At one point I analyzed our 6 million dollar client base and realized 60% of our clients weren’t profitable and, incidentally, it was the same 60% of our clients we didn’t like, respect or trust. In short, 60% of our clients sucked! So, one New Year’s Day I sent a note to my entire staff that read, ‘Beginning now, our new criteria for taking on new business will be that we like the client and that they are prepared to pay our price. Do not deviate from this and follow your intuition, and don’t try to make any potential customers fit into our culture, people, and what we stand for.’ Morale shot up 1,000 percent; all of a sudden, we were making money on every project. It was astonishing. My staff was happy, and the sales team sold more!”

– Troy Hazard, Founder and CEO of 
Troy Hazard International: @troyhazard

  1. Consider bonus-based performance incentives.

“Money is always the biggest motivating factor for any sales team. Our tip is to incentivize and pay a big portion of a sale as commission to whichever person on the team got the job done. A great idea is also to include a bonus based on performance, or at least bonuses for the top performers of the team. Doing so will create competition within the sales team, pushing individual members to go above and beyond to close out as many successful sales as they can.”

Originally Posted:

Written by: Staff Contributors

Best Incentives For Millennials

October 17th, 2016 by

As a small to medium-size business, there are many things that are important, such as paying taxes and hiring from the millennial labor pool. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Millennials make up the largest share of the U.S. population, at 28.7 percent. By 2020, Millennials will be nearly half of all workers. Growing some logical expectations as a small to medium-size business requires understanding who they are.

Separating the wheat from the chaff: Millennials have been at least somewhat aware of the stereotypes used to describe them and how they’ve been made the scapegoat for many problems encountered by businesses. Some of the words and terms used to describe them include “idle,” “unambitious” and “no collar workers”.

Mike Rowe, the host of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs,” testified before the Senate Commerce Committee in 2011. Into the fourth minute of his testimony, he talks about the “skills gap,” where his emphasis was focused entirely on skilled trades. Although true from the perspective of skilled trades, it loses sight of a shift in the collective skill set, as if an entire generation has been content with a life of leisure. This is especially true when contemplating a shift in career choices toward information technology (there’s a reason why there’s “an app for that”). Clearly put, workplace priorities and skill sets have shifted among millennials and have been widely missed or misunderstood.

Let us look at these attributes in the context of a business strategy, designed to attract the best workers.

One essential tool in building a happy recruiting and retention strategy must be a sharp awareness of the most prevalent problems amongst typical workplace environments. It’s the foundation for assessing worker compatibility and an important skill for spotting harmful trends in the workplace. A 2011 Gallup survey reveals that among all American workers, about 71% of them are not engaged in the workplace and that 19% of the workforce is “actively disengaged.” It’s a chronic problem which, for some businesses, has caused sharp declines in performance. Anyone recruiting Millennial candidates must be aware of how this affects employee retention. A failure to recognize such cultures will prevent businesses from leveraging traits being brought into the workplace.

Acknowledge a millennial worldview. Corporate agendas, which are serious about hiring millennials have recognized a more complex definition of “success.” For example, profit is not seen as the only metric from which success is measured. Millennials don’t attribute the same value to net worth as past generation. The majority are only interested in making enough money to sustain their lifestyles, so much so that they’re not even saving. For employers, this means that financial incentives aren’t as effective as they were ten years ago.

According to a 2014 Deloitte study, contributions to society and serving the greater good are also on the minds of your future workforce. This is based on the fact that many of them volunteer their time and money to charitable organizations.   They’re also more vigilant about signing political petitions. Their view of a work-life balance is also in stark contrast to the baby-boom generation they’re replacing.

Learn the importance of feedback. Those studying trends are noticing that millennials show a reluctance to working in a vacuum. According to Jeremy Kingsley a leadership expert and author of Inspired People Produce Results, feedback is playing a larger role. ”It makes them feel valued, which in turn boosts productivity,” says Kingsley.

Share some of their interests and offer flexibility. For a group of employees with a broader worldview, it makes sense to allow some flexibility. A direct example speaks to their interest in activities outside of work. Some companies have embraced some of the same community interests and have made Corporate Philanthropy a significant part of their business model, even going so far as to collaborate with other businesses toward a common goal.

We can empathize with a business which finds itself in the midst of major change. The shifts we see in our workforce could be seen as a liability. Nevertheless, one can not help but notice similarities between the millennial’s world views and those taught to most of us by our parents. That said, one might see some extraordinary benefits arriving at the doors of American businesses in the future.

Author: Owen Andrew

Originally Posted: 

Appreciate Employees With Low-Cost Recognition Ideas

October 10th, 2016 by


Small businesses can compete for talent without breaking the bank. Yes, you still need to pay competitive wages to get people in the door, but it’s the perks that will help you retain them. Here are 30 low-cost ideas for small businesses who want to show employees that they are highly valued.

  1. Flex time. Some organizations need employees to be at work during core hours, and employee can set their schedule around this. Others allow employees to put in hours at their own discretion. Most require employees to have a set schedule so managers can plan for coverage. The schedule may be adjusted to accommodate personal matters like doctor’s appointments.
  1. Innovation days. Set aside a number of days a year to enable employees to step away from their normal responsibilities to undertake projects associated with the way they work and the spaces they work in. Results are shared in a company meeting the following morning.
  1. Monthly commuter benefits. Offer a monthly stipend ($100 or so) for those who commute by public transportation. In many cities where mass transit is used, companies offer tax-free transit fare programs; you can learn more about the options available from programs like TransitChek or Commuter Check. These programs also save companies money in payroll taxes. 
  1. Completely stocked kitchen.  Provide free coffee, soft drinks, and snacks for employees during work hours. Want to bump this up a notch? Keep organic milk in stock and add fresh fruit and healthy options to the shopping list.
  1. Wellness benefits. Employees can obtain reimbursement for purchases linked to fitness (up to $300/year). Typical items reimbursed include gym memberships, running shoes, yoga mats, bicycles, and so on.
  1. Free lunch. Order in for all your employees once a week to foster community and give employees a break from packing their lunches.
  1. Canine colleagues. Got an office full of dog lovers? Then invite house-trained visitors to join the team.
  1. Parental leave. As this infographic shows, the U.S. has some of the weakest paid family-leave benefits anywhere—while some states guarantee paid leave, it’s not a federal mandate. You can immediately differentiate your company by making sure all employees are eligible for paid time off after the birth or adoption of a child.
  1. No dress code. Relax—ties are optional in this work environment.
  1. Summer hours. Employees kick back early on Fridays during the summer months, enabling them to beat the heat as well as the traffic if they are heading out to the beach for a weekend.
  1. Free chair massages. Fifteen minutes in the chair once a week, and employees will return to their desks feeling more refreshed and ready to tackle their to-do lists.
  1. Optional telecommuting.  In an increasingly mobile and digitally connected world, many employees can easily and successfully work from home part- or full-time. Here are some tips on working from home that will make the transition smooth.
  1. Tech neutrality. Offer the choice of PCs or Macs so employees can work on the machine with which they’re more comfortable.
  1. Flexibility in paid time off. Employees can choose how to use their paid time off bank (vacation, sick, and personal time) to best meet the needs of their individual situations.
  1. A culture of work/life balance. Formulate an atmosphere where it really is okay to leave the office before 8 p.m.
  1. Perks for part-time employees. Many organizations handle part-time workers like they were temps. Provide part-time employees with perks and they will be acting like full-time employees in no time.
  1. Cultural extras. Keep the workplace exciting by mixing in rewards like concert tickets, movie outings, or passes to sporting events. Don’t forget to throw some cash your employee’s way to cover the babysitter.
  1. Sabbaticals. Offer month-long sabbaticals after five years of service, or two months after ten years of service.
  1. Laundry service. Apply a service to pick up employees’ clothes and drop them back at work, clean and folded.
  1. Car care. Who has time to care for their car in for an oil change? Companies have arranged for a service to come to the office and take care of this messy task while employees are working.
  1. Gift matching. The company meets employee’s charitable donations, with the match based on what the company can afford.
  1. Adoption assistance. This financial assistance can be practiced for legal expenses, adoption agencies, or other professional fees.
  1. Take-out meals. To help make things easier, new moms and dads can expense up to $300 for take-out meals during the first three months that they are home with their new baby.
  1. Employee referral programs. Good people know other good people, and the best employees are regularly hired through referrals. Those who refer candidates who are hired receive a cash bonus award.
  1. Green initiatives. Selected parking and subsidies for those who purchase and drive hybrid vehicles.
  1. Paid time off to volunteer. Employees are given a specific amount of time to volunteer in their communities.
  1. Cleaning services. Sweep employees off their feet—hire professional cleaners to tidy up employees’ homes every two weeks.
  1. Tuition forgiveness. Offer to pay a percentage of tuition owed, per year of employment, for hard-to-fill positions that are appropriate for recent grads.
  1. Easier dinnertimes. Take care of the people who matter by enlisting a vendor to deliver healthy ready-to-eat dinners that employees can elect to purchase and take home to their families.
  1. Acknowledgment of significant others. When employees do have to work late hours, the people who really pick up the slack are their spouses who are compelled to work double duty. Acknowledge their contributions by sending flowers or gift cards, along with a personal note to acknowledge their contribution.

Incorporating perks like these into your organization will help you attract top talent, increase employee satisfaction, and reduce costly employee turnover, which in the end is far more profitable than scaling back on your benefit expenses to save a few bucks.

Have you incorporated any of these benefits into your business, or discovered any other unique ideas that work?

Written By: Roberta Matuson

Originally Posted:

The Importance Of Employee Recognition

October 10th, 2016 by


You have put hours of blood, sweat, and tears into the latest project at work. Not only did it call for you to step up into a leadership role, not only was it under a tight deadline, and NOT ONLY did you bring work home every single night, but it also required you going above and beyond your typical job roles to get the assignment completed. Once everything was seamlessly delivered, there was:

  • No follow-up from your managers
  • No ‘thank-you.’
  • No recognition

Work that appeared to warrant a promotion, a raise, or a bonus went unqualified. So you back-pocket this experience and move forward. But will you be inclined to invest this much effort into the next task at hand? Probably not.

When hard work goes invalidated, why would anyone feel willing to repeat the positive behaviors they exemplified to deliver those results again? For the workforce, experiences like these are extremely detrimental when it comes to employee engagement. But the repercussions are equally damaging for leadership. When management fails to recognize other’s accomplishments, they decrease their reputability – suggesting they are not seen as a team player, which affects their ability to retain top performers and to recruit great talent in the future. Not to mention future results remain unsecured due to de-motivated teams.

Recognition is simple, and comes naturally outside of the workplace; it’s a habit that more workplaces need to adapt to proceed to foster a competitive business. Recognition is a crucial component of employee engagement and the underlying value throughout the entity of the manager-employee relationship. A “thank you” is much more powerful than a bonus – employees want to know that their work is contributing to a greater good and helping to shape their career progression trajectory. Today’s employees want to be acknowledged for successes affecting the company and are more inclined to drive results when their work is celebrated.

There are many motives to why employee recognition is so important in today’s competitive workplaces. But here are three significant reasons why you need to consider implementing a recognition routine in your office today if you wish to continue to build a great business:

  1. Reduced Turnover

This should not sound like rocket science because the equation is simple. Employees who are recognized are engaged, and engaged employees lead to higher retention rates. Turnover is a vital issue when you consider the hundreds of thousands of lost dollars in employee investment and the millions of lost dollars in a business opportunity. Recognition is directly aligned to reduced turnover rates, helping your business to stay on the track to success.

  1. Improved Team Culture

If you were in a relationship where you are abused, run down, and ignored – would you stay friends with that person? Same goes for the relationships you have at work. Great relationships are fostered by positive environments. A culture of recognition breeds employee engagement making your workplace an office where employees want to be at work and want to continue to make lasting impacts on their peers.

  1. Increased Performance

By incorporating recognition in your workplace – just a small effort – you can align the stars. Motivated and driven employees produce outstanding results. They are invested in their work and infused with a sense of mission. They know how their work contributes to the company’s values and goals. Take the situation we illustrated above: had you meaningfully thanked that employee for their results, they would be willing to go to that length again because their work was validated.

Written By:  Sasha Bricel

Originally Posted:

The Best Ways Employee Advocates Should Be Recognized

October 3rd, 2016 by


Employees are your most valuable assets– so why not keep them happy, healthy, and motivated? By rewarding them in cool and exciting ways, you can empower them to become passionate employee advocates who want to amplify your brand’s story and reach. After all, the happiest and most engaged employee advocates are the ones who are actively sharing their love of your company and brand with their social networks.

And yes, there is a clear connection between happiness and productivity when it comes to empowering employee advocates. Jessica Pryce-Jones, CEO of iOpener, recently conducted a survey looking at the correlation between happiness and productivity at work.

The research confirmed that the old adage, a happy worker is a productive worker, is true. The happiest employees were found to be:

  • 180% more energised than their fewer content colleagues
  • 155% happier with their jobs
  • 150% happier with life
  • 108% more engaged
  • 50% more motivated
  • 50% more productive

The results are remarkable but also not surprising– a workplace with happy, engaged employees is intrinsically more productive. These employees are more likely to advocate on behalf of the brand by spreading the gospel about the company they work for and love. Each one of your employees carries your brand story with them and can present praise about your company outside the office just because they genuinely believe in the product and like the company they work for.

And in return for evangelising your company, you should be rewarding your employee advocates. Presenting perks and benefits because you appreciate their hard-work and social sharing is an effective way to continue the cycle of advocacy. Here are a few examples of how some companies are rewarding their employees with not just swag, but with a genuine interest in promoting their well-being:

  • Genentech: Genentech is the world’s number one biotech company based out of San Francisco. They believe in adding convenience to their employees’ daily lives, from on-site childcare to full-service cafeterias to weekly car washes. They are also committed to employee assistance programs, which provide counselling or legal advice as well as tuition reimbursement for further education.
  • Clif Bar: The natural food company out of Emeryville, Calif. that markets food towards people living healthy lifestyle practices, which they preach in the workplace. The Clif Bar offices feature a rock-climbing wall, loaner bikes, and two and a half hours of paid gym time. Additionally, they offer a $350 towards races and competitions their employees want to join in.
  • Tom’s of Maine: This company is committed to balancing wellness and community interests with working lives. Tom’s encourage employees to use 5% of their paid work time to volunteer in the community and to take advantage of abbreviated working hours during the summer. They also promote holistic fitness and wellness programs from yoga to self-defense to massages at their Wellness Centers.

So you see, these perks are pretty cool, and they can go a long way in keeping your employees happy. However, you have to recognise that while granting perks and benefits is a great thing, it’s not something that should be done in the company’s best interest. You need to offer recognition and rewards because you realise that a company should support its employees, just like employees should act in the best interest of their company. While all these amazing perks might help you recruit top talent, it is an entirely distinctive thing to be able to retain that talent. All the ping pong tables and happy hours and free snacks in the world won’t keep employees productive – only actual recognition and appreciation will.

We believe that encouraging friendly competition by maintaining leaderboards is an effective way to ensure employees are recognised and valued for their brand advocacy. Your most active employees on social can be tracked and highlighted on leaderboards. Small companies may only need something as simple as a whiteboard chart, whereas larger organisations would benefit from a robust employee advocacy platform. Nevertheless, you choose to keep score, a leaderboard is an effective way to see, measure, and recognise your top brand advocates. It not only instils healthy competition among co-workers, but it also serves to boost morale within the ranks.

Though we outlined a few examples of notable company rewards and perks, we understand that sometimes, it isn’t feasible to be so generous. And that’s ok! There are lots of other creative, cost-effective ways you can reward your employee advocates. Because even small measures of recognition can go great lengths in letting your employees feel appreciated and valued. For example:

  • Have regular company lunches – everyone loves free food!
  • Reimburse mileage and transportation costs for employee commutes
  • Provide a hosted happy hour get-together for employees
  • Hold a weekly raffle with gift cards prizes for top social sharers
  • Have company meetings to recognise top brand advocates

You see, the rewards you provide do not necessarily need to be extravagant but should be enough to encourage and motivate your team to advocate on your brand’s behalf. Any reward, big or small, will go a long way in showing your employees that you appreciate them, which will make them happy, which will, in turn, empower them to become active brand advocates.

Author:  Jim Larrison

Originally Posted:

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