To get the most out of your team, you know you need to get everyone to up their game, keep key sales data front and center, identify and share the team's best practices, and oftentimes motivate folks to take a new approach to how and what they sell.

Traditionally, the sales kickoff meeting, or SKO, has been the one time where you have your team in one place to learn, collaborate, motivate, inspire and define goals. SKOs are great for sharing vision and motivating, but keeping the team focused all year long takes more than one meeting.

I was chatting with Bob Marsh, CEO of LevelEleven, about how sales managers can get the most from their sales teams. Here are six tips to keep in mind when keeping your team motivated for the full year:

  1. Keep the eyes on the prize, and the steps to get you there: Any sales kick-off will include lots of fanfare around "the number" that needs to be achieved, and how the quotas add up by group to hit that goal. But what often doesn't get enough attention is how this specifically cascades down to the day-to-day activity of each individual salesperson to ensure everyone is focused and executing in unison. Sure they know their quotas, but what about how many opportunities they need to identify, how many meetings they need to have each week, etc. When you take this behavior focused approach, where the inputs drive the outputs and you are keeping those results front and center, and even making them visible in real time, sales teams are more likely to stay motivated when they know where they stand. Managers can become metrics drive coaches, and everyone knows what needs to happen to reach their goals.
  2. Build and maintain a growth mindset: According to Carol Dweck, Stanford psychologist and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, "A fixed mindset is when people believe their basic qualities, their intelligence, their talents, their abilities, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount of skills, and that's that. But other people have a growth mindset. They believe that even basic talents and abilities can be developed over time through experience, mentorship, and so on. And these are the people who go for it. They're not always worried about how smart they are, how they'll look, what a mistake will mean. They challenge themselves and grow." Sales professionals who are always looking for ways to get better consistently stand out from the crowd. They ask for feedback, participate in role plays, shadow team members who are excelling in a particular area, and ask to be mentored. Sales professionals who want to be challenged and aren't afraid to look foolish in front of their peers in the name of improvement are already preparing to excel past their goals.
  3. Tap into your team's competitive spirit: Competition brings out the best in people, so use it to your advantage. Salespeople are competitive with their peers, and they're also competitive with themselves - they want to hit their own goals. When you keep team performance front and center, it motivates people to pick it up a notch and also to know who they can go learn from.
  4. Model your highperformers: It's important to support and recognize your top sales performers, but what's more important is to model what they do so you can help others get better too. The challenge is often that these folks don't even know why they're so good - because it all comes so naturally to them. But with some active probing of several people, you're sure to start spotting some common traits. For example, we find that top performers just have a natural sense that they need to build their pipeline, prospect consistently, etc. Middle and low performers often miss those natural instincts and need help staying focused - which is your job as a sales leader.
  5. Highlight learning opportunities: By showing your team where there are opportunities to learn, you send a clear message that a great sales professional doesn't come fully formed. Embrace and encourage breakout sessions that allow for sharing successful sales tactics and coaching opportunities. My company is specifically in business-to-business sales and we leverage every opportunity for training & relevant conferences, like the Sales Kickoff Summit hosted by SalesHacker and HireVue coming up at the end of February.
  6. Bring the team together to showcase your product: Team gatherings, whether it's a sales kickoff or a general team meeting, can range from stressful and counterproductive to effective and informative. When you have the entire sales team in one location, it's easy to spend a lot of time on numbers, goals, KPIs and quotas, but be sure to take plenty of time to look at what your team is selling, customer success stories, and unique use cases. Team gatherings are a great time to refresh product knowledge, introduce and train on new product features and give the sales team insight into what the product team is developing. This arms your team with valuable information and makes sure they feel included on where the company is headed.

By referring to these tips, there's a good chance you'll keep your team engaged for the year ahead.