A good sales person is worth their weight in gold, literally, but sometimes managers get too caught up in ensuring their star performers are rewarded financially that they lose sight of the employee.
When you employ a graduate for a sales role it is risky because you’re not sure how they’re going to perform. If you strike lucky and find a graduate sales star then you need to ensure that you are offering the financial and personal rewards to keep them in your company.
According to Blem, in his book Achieving Excellence in Selling, “most sales representatives need encouragement and special incentives to enable them to work to the best of their abilities”, encouragement that comes in the form of rewards and recognition.
You might think it is just senior sales people who may need further motivation after years of selling, but a junior sales person needs the credit they have earned for their sales. Especially if a graduate is new to the industry, when they achieve targets or bring in a high profile client, they should be recognised.
The ‘needs theory’ dictates that your employees have three needs: power, affiliation and achievement which a manger needs to consistently address. This can be done by giving a graduate power with the responsibility for generating their own leads or closing a deal, for example.
Team bonding exercises such as lunches out or even sports activities organised through work create a relaxed atmosphere where a sense of togetherness can be cultivated, which addresses the need for affiliation.
Achievement should always be rewarded, especially with younger talents, through ‘sales person of the month’ awards, extra bonuses or even public announcements because these show your employee that you value their hard work for the company.
Recognition is essential for keeping graduates on your sales team, as according to the Process theory, motivation is affected by the likelihood that your effort will impact on how a company performs and the extent to which this effort will be rewarded.
As such, if you fail to recognise when a graduate has excelled they’re less likely to drive to do it again because the bottom line is, if you haven’t said well done, why would they do it again if you don’t appreciate their effort?
Although humans are not as simple as Pavlov proposed in his theory of conditioning, behaviours that are rewarded are much more motivational than if these moments are ignored. Financial rewards are effective, but the human response is valued highly and can give sales people a boost in their esteem which will be beneficial.
Indeed, Watson Wyatt found that only 38% of employees felt motivated by financial incentives so take the time to say well done and make sure that your graduate feels valued.
In such a personal and face-to-face industry as sales, it has been proved that “most sales representatives need encouragement to enable them to work to the best of their abilities.”
By giving your graduate sales star a pat on the back in public to acknowledge their success, you’re encouraging them to do this time and time again, which they’ll respond well to.
When you’ve found a successful graduate sales person if you nurture their skills, encourage their development and reward their achievements then they’ll be in it for the long run.
By Bryn Thompson, Sales Director at Pareto. With over 20 years experience in the field of sales training and sales recruitment, Bryn currently leads a team of 23 staff across the commercial and operations teams. An authority on sales, Pareto regularly produce sales resources for professionals looking to expand their knowledge and skills. You can see their latest guide ‘Become a Smarter Seller in 2015’ here.