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10 Ways to Keep Your Sales Team Happy

How to make sure your most important employees can do the best job possible.
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If selling your products or services requires a salesperson, your sales team is your most valuable resource.  Here's how to make sure that they're both happy and productive:

1. Keep them in the loop.

If you update your website without telling your sales team, you're setting them up to look stupid in front of the customer. Nothing is more embarrassing than listening to a customers tell you what's new in your own product set.

2. Don't undercut them.

Your sales team should always be able to offer customers the best possible price.  Making it cheaper to buy directly on the website may increase your margins, but it will decrease revenue because all your best salespeople will leave.

3. Don't over-hire.

Never hire more sales reps than your revenue can support. They'll end up competing for the same business and getting in each other's way.  Your company ends up looking unprofessional.

4. Be fair with sales leads.

Don't save all the best leads for the top rep while sending the questionable ones to the other reps.  This may seem like a good idea because the top rep will close a lot of business, but it guarantees that you'll never cultivate another top rep.

5. Advertise products not brands.

From a sales perspective, brand-oriented advertising is a waste of money. Instead, make certain that every sales and marketing campaign has a tie-in to the products that the reps must actually sell.

6. Pay commissions promptly.

If you wait until the end of the quarter or fiscal year to pay commissions, you're disconnecting the commission from the behavior that generated the sales.  Paying promptly encourages sales reps to sell more.

7. Don't play quota games.

Raising the quota every month so that nobody ever achieves a commission check or making established customers into 'house accounts' don't pay commissions are both great ways to ensure that your salespeople leave, taking your customers with them.

8. Support their efforts.

Give your sales reps access to the people in your firm who can help them close sales.  Make certain that the most popular products are available to the reps if demonstrating them is important to closing a sale.

9. Keep sales targets reasonable.

It's stupid to set ambitious targets intended to impress top management when you know that the reps cannot really achieve them.  It's also stupid to openly praise reps who commit to absurdly high targets while demeaning those who set practical ones.

10. Give them time to sell.

Don't overload your sales staff with administrative reporting and trackers that take up time that could be spent selling.  CRM may create great reports, but at what cost?  Do you really want your sales team doing clerical work?

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IMAGE: seanbjack/Flickr
Last updated: Sep 16, 2013

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed over a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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