A sales team has a critical job to do and plays an enormous role in a company’s ability to attract new clients and retain current business. These professionals often serve as the face of a business, and have a lasting impact on a firm’s performance.

All entrepreneurs want their sales teams to perform well, but these professionals often won’t do the job effectively on their own. Most teams need some sort of motivation to not only get their tasks done, but also go above and beyond expectations. A team that is excited to perform well and make more sales will boost a company’s reputation with clients, will more likely stay with the firm long-term and will make a better initial impression – all factors that contribute to overall success. This brings up an obvious dilemma for business owners: How can managers give their teams the motivation to succeed?

Review Compensation Plans
One of the most obvious causes of lackluster sales performance is inadequate compensation packages. If sales teams feel their efforts aren’t properly recognized and rewarded, they’ll likely start to slack off or put more effort on finding a new position than they do on gaining new clients and building relationships for a business.

To rectify this issue, entrepreneurs should review their compensation plans and take into account some common problems. Ensuring there is significant differentiation between top performers and those who have been behind the curve in recent months may serve as encouragement to those who don’t perform as well. Business owners should ensure their base pay isn’t too high, as it can discourage low performers from actively trying to increase their commission. Another common problem is overly complex incentive structures – if a plan is too confusing for sales teams to understand, they may not reach further or even realize that by increasing their efforts just slightly, they could receive an additional bonus.

When redesigning a sales compensation plan, entrepreneurs should be careful to ensure their strategy attracts – and keeps – good salespeople, and reinforces strong performance. You want to be consistent across the board.

Be There for Sales Teams
Sales teams deal with things many other people at a company never have to see, and that makes it important for sales professionals to know business owners are there for them and support their projects. Other teams should be well aware of the workload members of the sales department deal with regularly and have an idea of what their schedules look like to ensure they aren’t bothering them during the busiest periods of the month. Overwhelmed and stressed salespeople will not be as motivated as those who have enough time to complete their tasks and aren’t bogged down with requests from other departments.

On the other hand, there may be times when sales teams don’t need to be shielded from coworkers as much as they need assistance dealing with particularly difficult accounts. Professionals who feel as though a management team isn’t there to support them and help them through the struggle of obtaining an elusive account or dealing with a difficult client may not feel motivated to continue working. They may back away from an account, asking another team member to deal with it or break off contact, allowing another firm to pick up the business.

Let Sales Teams Set Their Own Goals
While it may be important for companies to set some standards and have certain targets for sales teams, that doesn’t mean sales professionals shouldn’t be given the opportunity to set monthly, quarterly or yearly goals for themselves. They may still be required to meet basic company targets, but beyond that, it may be beneficial for entrepreneurs to try this system and see how motivation, and subsequently performance, increase.

Salespeople know their own strengths and weaknesses, meaning they probably have a good idea of what they can achieve in a month. By setting goals for themselves, they may feel more obligated or motivated to reach them, or even prove they could succeed by surpassing those expectations.

Don’t Get in the Way
While entrepreneurs may enjoy taking on new challenges themselves, sales should not be one of them. Even if a business owner is managing a sales department, they should refrain from making sales and reaching out to leads unless absolutely necessary. This can discourage a sales team that feels a business owner is too busy selling instead of managing or even taking all the best leads for him or herself. By allowing sales professionals control over their department, entrepreneurs show they know how to step away gracefully and be a figure professionals can turn to when in need of support.

Besides holding back from making sales themselves, business owners should also refrain from sending top performers to meet with every high risk prospect or difficult client. This can make other sales professionals feel as though they’re irrelevant to the success of the company or not valued business partners. Allowing average salespeople a chance to prove themselves can help increase their motivation and renew their interest in achieving goals and increase their sales effectiveness.