With millennials making up 75% of the workforce by 2025, it’s time for organizations to rethink how they are preparing them for success.
The dreaded summer sales slump.
With prospects on vacation and reps wishing they could spend more time in the sun, countless B2B sales teams struggle to stay productive during July and August. Lead counts start to slip, deals get delayed, and before you know it, you’re facing a tough hill to climb in September.
Of course, that’s the worst-case scenario. Sales organizations that motivate their reps effectively during the summer months reap big rewards in the fall, when hard work will have positioned the company to finish strong.
How can you keep your sellers engaged when the warm weather comes calling? There’s no silver bullet when it comes summer slumps, but sales leaders and managers who employ a mix of the following tactics will set their teams up for a nice second half.
9 Ways to Motivate B2B Sales Teams during the Summer
1. Coach Them Up
Down time during the summer months should allow you to invest more time and resources into sales coaching, and there’s good reason to do so.
Don’t forget, 46% of sellers see coaching by the sales manager as one of the best ways to reinforce new skills, according to Sales Performance International. What’s more, effective coaching can improve overall team performance; CSO Insights found that companies with dynamic coaching programs achieve 28% higher win rates than their peers.
Where you should focus your sales coaching efforts varies from team to team, but breaking down previous wins and losses can be a useful starting point. Role plays, 1-on-1 coaching sessions and group coaching exercises all reinforce training and further develop sales skills. Sales readiness tools like Brainshark can also support coaching efforts, allowing teams to certify that sellers are prepared through video-based coaching, practice and assessments.
2. Professional Development
As with coaching, summer gives sales teams a great chance to develop their existing talent through formal learning. Sales leaders have plenty of options here, including:
- Sending their teams to a sales conference
- Hiring guest speakers to visit the office
- Planning on-site trainings or purchasing online learning courses for your team
- Establishing a peer learning program where reps can share best practices and win stories
Also consider looking at the career training your organization offers to its reps, especially the inside sales teams. Career pathing is vital to building productive sales development groups, and summer is an ideal time to implement or refine programs that teach SDRs skills that prepare them for future roles, such as account executive or first-line manager.
3. Be Strategic About Prospecting
Prospects might be more difficult to reach during the summer, but very few (if any) of them are spending 4 weeks at the beach. B2B prospects are also likely to have more down-time – after all, they’re just as likely to suffer from the seasonal slump. Inside sales expert, Mike Brooks, suggests making as many morning calls as possible and saving administrative activities for the afternoon.
4. Create SPIFFs and other Sales Contests
Both of these tactics are tried-and-true for a simple reason: people respond to incentives.
SPIFFs (Sales Performance Incentive Funds) challenge reps to push a key product or solution during a given time period, with the incentive of a prize or monetary reward. Contests – especially those with unique or interesting rewards – are a great way to motivate the field force. Consider creating a lead-generation or pipeline-building contest that helps your team keep momentum high during the dog days.
5. Spotlight Your Team’s Success Stories
Consistency breeds consistency. If you have reps who still hit quota, close deals and meet weekly goals during the tough months, see whether any of their best practices should be shared with the entire team. This makes it clear to underperforming reps that the sales world never stops spinning, and by providing useful tips, you’re giving B- and C-players a winning summer formula.
6. Allow flexible hours and remote work when possible
A little extra free time can go a long way when it comes to keeping sales reps engaged. What’s more, working remotely is quickly becoming the norm both in sales and other professions. FlexJobs reports that 3.9 million Americans – or 2.9% of the total U.S. workforce – now work from home at least 50% of the time.
Even permitting a flexible schedule can give sales reps a much-needed breather. At Brainshark, we allow employees to work half-day Fridays during the summer, provided they’re making up that time on other days and – in the case of sales reps – on target to hit their numbers.
7. Don’t Overlook the Value of Team-Building Activities
Happy employees are 12% more productive at work, according to the University of Warwick, and there’s no reason sales teams cannot enjoy those same benefits. Planned events and informal outings are both great ways to enable better team bonding – especially when the reps can have input on the agenda.
Try sales team-building events such as:
- Developing relevant skills through competition, such as an adult softball league, or corporate improv training programs
- Give back to the community through skills-based volunteering programs, such as Habitat for Humanity or a local soup kitchen
- Offsites – even something as simple as a team barbecue or attending a baseball game – can help team members relax and bond
8. Crack Open a Good Sales Book
These slow weeks present salespeople with the perfect opportunity to do some reading. Sales books are not only an excellent source of inspiration, industry knowledge and self-improvement, but they also provide a much-needed chance to recharge and reflect.
We’ve curated our own summer reading list to help reps, managers and enablement leaders pick one (or two) great sales books.
9. Audit Your Sales Tools
Perhaps most importantly, the summer offers us all a chance to reflect on the first half of the year and adjust your second-half strategy as needed. This can include how you approach management, the sales methodology and best practices your organization relies on and even your sales technology stack.
Try reviewing your team’s usage of tools such as LinkedIn Navigator and D&B Hoovers. Ask account managers from vendors about any new features their products offer, and create a presentation highlighting relevant functionality. You can then use this presentation to reinforce all of the above points, encouraging your reps to continue making new connections, asking for referrals, identifying leads and building pipeline.
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