How to inspire your sales team to prospect 2x better: 3 ideas that work
Caffeine pills, 15-minute power naps, goal visualizations, or the "brush teeth, wash face" technique to start your day effectively. Of course, we've all read the articles on sales mindset hacks.
But honestly? Most of these focus on the wrong stuff.
Why? Because inspiring your sales team to perform 2X better isn't a hack—it's a long-term investment.
And with an ever-increasing quarterly/monthly sales quota, running a team of confident, results-driven reps requires more than sharing around colourful PDF templates or signing a retainer contract with the coffee shop next door.
Keep reading for three simple tips (plus a bonus tactic newly-hired sales managers can swipe instantly) you can use to inspire your team and keep that hockey-stick growth going.
Idea #1. Gamify your prospecting process
Popularized by B.F. Skinner, gamification is tailor-made for the hyper-social, competitive nature of most sales reps.
In games (think Minecraft, Candy Crush, or Fantasy Football League), you must achieve specific goals and overcome obstacles to win.
Sales is no different.
Like your fantasy football team, you can break down large tasks (quarterly quota) into manageable tasks each sales rep completes weekly. Each week is a chance to overcome obstacles and rank higher, and the winner at the end of the week/quarter/year takes home the grand prize.
This process keeps the team motivated.
Plus it’s effective. For Olivia Tan, business communications leader and co-founder of CocoFax, gamifying the sales process led to about a 50% increase in sales.
She believes sales leaders need to reward the right things for gamification to work.
"Take time to analyze your business goals and turn them into effective key performance indicators (KPIs)," she explains.
Throw in privileges, recognition (for example, you could share the individual rep's success within the company and externally), and weekly monetary rewards such as vouchers and gifts—and you light a fire that keeps your team engaged and performing way better than expectations.
Here's how you can kickstart your sales fantasy league:
You can allocate points to each step in your process. The more steps a sales rep completes, the more points they get. Additional points can be allocated for actions done well or in the best possible manner. This discourages reps from cheating the system to gain points.
Use this to show who's gathered the most points. You could split your leaderboard into various tables. Such as who's created the most opportunity value, who's had the highest number of cold calls, or highest response rates. Or it could be one table that totals all the points gotten across various activities.
For a hardcore hacker like Tom Winter, Chief Revenue Office at DevSkiller, gamification is one of the best productivity-enhancing techniques one can employ for today’s workforce.
“We have a leaderboard with detailed statistics for the sales team. However, instead of calculating performance individually to determine the reward, we take the average score of the team to determine the reward."
"So say, they reach 100 points on a given week, they get an unlimited pizza and beer night. If they pass 1000 points for the month, they get a company-paid weekend getaway to a nearby spa, casino, or resort,” he continues.
Add in the occasional mission or flash contest with a special prize for the winning sales rep (or teams). It could be as simple as an increased number of daily cold calls or as complicated as resurrecting a closed-lost opportunity.
Short feedback loops
Set up a feedback system where the team gets notified as soon as they move up or drop in rankings. This provides positive reinforcement and instant gratification (if they move up the leaderboard) and motivation to do better next time (if they slide down the leaderboard).
Idea #2. Build and share a clear development plan with your reps
A clear training and development plan is critical to managing a high-performing sales team. One way to approach this is to think like an NBA head coach.
On a basketball team, everyone wants to improve. But each player has different skill sets and strengths, and the coach needs to balance between individual training and team training programs.
Some of your sales development reps (SDRs) want to become account executives (AEs) as soon as possible. In contrast, some are content with being high-performing SDRs. Others want to move into sales enablement or revenue operations.
And as Meganne Brezina, Head of Revenue Effectiveness at Lessonly succinctly puts it, "managers should help the sales rep identify and focus on one clearly defined area for improvement at a time, based on the data that resulted from the rating scale."
"This data-driven approach provides clear direction on the top place to focus. It’s important here to not boil the ocean and remain committed to one skill improvement at a time," she continues
Developing a clearly defined training and development path alongside matching KPIs that align with the individual reps' goals while achieving business goals can be a catalyst for improved performance.
Here's how to create a clear development plan:
Encourage/incentivize a strong relationship between SDRs and AEs
Naturally, these two roles should have a symbiotic relationship. SDRs cast the net while the AEs reel the prospects in. Encouraging better collaboration between both roles not only improves the overall performance of the team, but SDRs who aspire to move into an AE role someday have a better understanding of the nuts and bolts of the AE role.
Define personal and team success
Develop and agree on a clear career path along with your reps to make sure everyone is headed in the same direction. This way, everyone understands what the business expects of them and can see the path to the next level in their career.
Create coaching and learning opportunities for your reps
Encourage and incentivize your reps to learn and develop. This could include using tools like Gong to share great sales calls so as to learn from each other. Or introducing them to a mentor or a peer who excels in an area they'd like to develop and offer to pay for lunch where they can pick their brain.
Provide continuous training
According to Accenture, investing in continuous learning and development has an ROI of 353%. That's a return of $4.53 for every dollar invested. Regardless of experience level or performance, each team member should receive continuous training on new trends, techniques, and tools that could improve their performance. Make sure to use different training methods to keep everyone engaged.
Idea #3. Equip your sales team with the right tools
A key responsibility of yours as a sales leader is to create an environment where your team can be successful. So, aside from gamification and training, you need to make sure the sales prospecting tools your team uses are up to snuff.
It would be best if you made sure that the tools you have in place allow your reps to automate all the tedious and unproductive tasks so they can focus on one thing – selling.
Prospecting can feel like grunt work. Don't make it harder than it already is.
Here's how to make prospecting more effective and enjoyable:
Automate, automate, automate
Automate tasks such as data entry, logging sales calls, visits, and emails. Doing this alone keeps you one step ahead of the competition. Time-consuming, repetitive tasks bog down tons of sales reps. Tools like Outreach.io for email sequences, Scratchpad or Dooly for Salesforce data entry, and Zapier or If This Then That (IFTT) can go a long way in reducing the number of manual administrative tasks that hold your team up.
You need both quality and quantity when prospecting. However, you want your team to go after the most likely buyers instead of chasing down any leads they can find. One solution is to use UserGems to surface your alumni customers who recently changed jobs. These warm prospects are 3X more likely to purchase from you again and purchase faster. Smarter prospecting boosts your reps’ confidence, helping them hit their numbers quicker.
How to Turn Your Customers' Job Changes into Hot Leads & New Deals
Bonus idea: The Post-it Notes check-in exercise
For Jesse, the post-it notes team exercise is a proven hack sales leaders can use to gain alignment and win the confidence of their sales team from day one.
In his words, "you put everyone in a room and hand them three different colors of post-it notes. Next, ask them to write down what we need to stop doing, what's wasting time, and what we should start doing on separate sticky notes."
He continues, "use primers like 'what have you been saying that we should be doing but no one's listening to me' to get them going. Spend 45 minutes on each color, then have them put all their post-it notes on the wall. You can then start picking them off according to common themes."
When Jesse conducted this exercise at Tipalti, they discovered that most of the sales team didn't know how to calculate their commission. And some others thought their quotas needed revisiting.
One caveat, though, it's most effective if you manage a team of 5 —15 people. You'll probably spend the whole week sorting through the post-it notes if you manage a large sales team.
If You've Made It This Far...
You care about the success of your sales team. Right on.
Improving your team's booking rate is a long-term investment. It comes down to equipping your reps with the right prospecting tools, investing in their development, and developing sales processes that encourage them to come in every day fired up.
Here's to making prospecting better for everyone.