Friday, 28 August 2015

How to Keep Your Sales Staff Motivated

One of the main drivers of business success is retaining top staff, but perhaps even more important than this is keeping your top earners motivated and performing. The difference between a thriving business and a failing business lies with how much revenue your salespeople are bringing in each month, so ensuring they are performing at their best is vital. Keeping your staff ‘on the ball’ and busy is often more difficult than it sounds, so here are some of our thoughts on how best to approach the matter.

Rewarding Performance


A finely tuned and thought out compensation structure is one of the best ways to motivate staff, especially salespeople. Too often businesses are not representing their top performers with incentive structures to really get them going. Having a cap on earnings and bonuses may seem to make initial sense to keep business costs down, but the logic is often flawed. Once one of your employees has reached their limit of earnings what’s in it for them to work hard? Put yourself in their shoes, if you hit your annual salary cap by October you will be inclined to coast along until the start of January, as selfish as this sounds it’s how the human brain is programmed to work. As long as your bonus structure is linked to profit made for the business and not just turnover, the increased salary you pay to an employee will only be rising in relation to money they make for the business. The best way to devise a bonus structure is to form it in such a way that it is a win-win for your employee and for your business.

Secondly, a lot of sales organisations are creating disincentives for staff by rewarding both poorly performing and highly performing salespeople. Giving bonuses to staff who meet the minimum required standard you expect as an employer sends out the wrong message. For example giving pay-outs to staff who achieve less than 50% of their sales goals discourages them from hitting their peaks, and communicates to your top performers that you as a business are satisfied with mediocrity. If you are looking to rejuvenate your sales staff and attract the best talent, a strong compensation structure is probably the best place to start.     

Encourage Competition


Many businesses assume that salespeople are only motivated by money.  This isn’t always true. Everyone enjoys that rush of competing against your colleagues and as an employer if you can encourage a bit of friendly rivalry between your staff your sales revenue is very likely to increase. As sad as it sounds everybody likes to ‘get one up’ on everyone and giving prizes to the best performing staff is a good way to get the best out of everyone. These prizes or rewards do not always have to be financial, an interesting reward scheme at a business I know is that the best performing salesperson for that month receives access to the best parking space at the company. Little things like this can really boost your employees to their top level. 

Written by Andy at Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

How Strong is Your LinkedIn Profile?

LinkedIn is a great tool for individuals and companies alike. The website has exploded since its creation in 2003 and now has more than 70 million members worldwide, growing by over 1 million users a month. For salespeople it allows the development and maintenance of a contact base, as well as providing a marketing platform for businesses to promote their product. Recent research shows that 78% of salespeople using social media outsell their peers, showing just how important it is to have a strong, visible online presence. But how do you come across on LinkedIn? Is your profile doing you a favour or causing you harm?


Building Your Brand


Whether you have a LinkedIn profile as an individual or a business it’s important to consider how you want your prospects, customers or colleagues to view your profile. Everything you choose to include in your profile matters, and little things can make a big difference in how people perceive you and your account. The first thing to decide when creating a LinkedIn profile is a profile picture for your account, as an individual this will likely be a photo of you, but for a business it will probably be your logo or even a picture of your staff. People often underestimate how important this picture is to your profile, as first impressions really do count and the immediate perception people create of you is heavily influenced by your picture.

For a person profile on LinkedIn it’s a good idea to try and make your picture look as professional as possible. I heard one of our recruitment consultants comment the other day how unprofessional it looks when people are drinking alcohol in their LinkedIn picture, these details can really affect how people view you. Everything from what you are wearing to the background of the picture is worth thinking about. For businesses the usual marketing techniques need to come into play, your picture should correspond to your company branding as it is an extension of your business. With the limited information and media you can include on your profile, it’s important to get things such as pictures right.

The space available underneath your name or a company name should be used carefully as it is often the first thing people read on your profile. Using keywords associated with specific roles or business sectors is a good technique to attract views to your profile, as it is one of the search tools that LinkedIn provides. This space is finite and needs to be thoroughly thought about, the same rules apply as SEO, what terms and words do you expect people to search for?

Networking


For salespeople or even any professional, LinkedIn offers opportunities to expand your career connections in a way that no other social media site can compete with. By keeping in touch with people you know and have worked with your voice will be heard by more people, and in turn what you hear on the ‘grapevine’ will increase. Both for individuals and companies the opportunities that are available to you will increase, for example many people hear about job vacancies through LinkedIn, one of my family members has been approached for his last two roles through the site.

The groups and support networks you can join on the site are valuable areas for discussion. These groups can provide help for when you have difficult questions, but when you help someone else it will raise the profile of your account and increase the number of views it receives. Discussion with industry experts can provide your business with some good advice and potentially help with strategic thinking.

In today’s digital age it’s vital to be a part of LinkedIn as it allows for a new area of competition both for individuals and businesses. Creating a strong profile can help with business success and career development. Follow Aaron Wallis’ LinkedIn profile here.


Monday, 10 August 2015

3 Things to Think About When Training New Sales Hires

The quality of a new employees’ training and induction process is often a key determinant in how effective they are going to be for your business, especially in the first year. It’s important when making a sales hire that your new employee hits the ground running, as most businesses can’t afford to be burdened with poor performance. A survey conducted by Aaron Wallis last year found that 53% of sales people felt that they needed more training for their role, illustrating just how many businesses aren’t getting their training right. The full results of our 2014 ‘The State of Sales’ survey can befound here. Here are a few points to consider when designing or reviewing your training programme:


The Introductions


Creating a friendly environment for a new employee is a key thing to think about when devising an induction process. Positive interaction and relationships between staff is immeasurably valuable as it helps to keep your staff motivated and stress free. When welcoming a new person to your team take time to introduce them individually to each person they will be working with, including the ‘big dogs’ of the business. Too often new staff are not welcomed by the management team of the business, usually due to excuses of managers being ‘too busy’. Ensuring that a new employee is acquainted with everyone from the interns to the directors is a good start to making them feel welcome.  

At this time it might be worth giving them a quick overview of the organisational structure of your business to avoid embarrassing situations. There aren’t many things worse when joining a new business then asking the wrong person for a hand or a minute of their time. For instance a newly appointed entry level sales person would probably want to avoid inadvertently asking a director to help unpack their bags. Mix-ups such as these are easily avoided and go a long way in making sure a new person has the best chances of making a 
good impression.

Keep it Engaging


The most effective training programmes are those that identify with each new employee through customisation. Everything from a person’s previous experience to personality needs to be considered to design the perfect training process. For example a seasoned sales person will require a different training scheme than a graduate position, patronising a new employee with information they already know is never a good start. Try to gauge what a new employee is already competent at before training them, boring them early on can cause them to become disillusioned with the training.

Everyone at some point has experienced ‘death by PowerPoint’, breaking up the training through different mediums and platforms is a good way to keep employees focussed. Training new employees through the same method can prove tedious, and breaking it up by 
increasing the range of activities in the process can help to keep employees motivated.


Get Them up to Speed Quickly  


It’s worth considering which processes and programs that new employees need to know first. By getting new employees up to speed on the basic parts of their role they may be able to perform tasks early on, which can prove useful for your business. Further to this, by allowing new employees to do tasks at the same time as being in the induction process, it breaks up the training and keeps new people to the business engaged.

The Internal Recruitment Division at Parker Bridge report that 1 in 25 employees has walked out of a job within a week, citing a poor induction as their reason for leaving. It's worth trying to get the process right!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

What Are The Best Degrees For The Sales Industry?

Most of the time you don’t actually need a degree to get into the sales industry, as the majority of sales positions are not always looking for graduates. In fact it is very possible to get into sales without experience or a degree, see our recently published blog ‘How to Get Into Sales without Any Experience’. However, a degree will always improve your CV and allow you to get into the sector at a higher entry level, with a potential of a higher salary. Entry level graduate sales positions have an impressive average salary of £23,000, a good reason to get into the sector! Here are the best degrees to help you get a job in the sales industry:

Business Degrees


An obvious point, but if you are looking for a sales job it’s always going to be working for a business! So why not study a business related degree? Business degrees come in a variety of different forms but perhaps the most useful courses to study come from a marketing or management perspective. Marketing degrees will develop your skills in identifying and understanding customers, and management degrees will come in handy if you are looking for a career in managing sales people.


Psychology or Sociology


It’s not always the topics that you directly learn about in your time at University that prepare you for your future career. The Washington Post conducted an interesting study in 2013 that found that only 27% of graduates were in employment that directly linked to their degree. A degree in psychology or sociology will give you some insight into how people think and behave, which can be very helpful when trying to secure sales deals or developing a sales strategy for a business.


Media or Communications


Learning about how organisations communicate and the different channels and streams they use to do it can link directly to sales. Graduate sales positions are more likely to be focussed on developing sales strategies or management of a team, and a degree that develops your knowledge of communications will increase the chances of you landing a job in the industry. This is especially relevant in B2B sales jobs, and has more significance in today’s digital age with the development of the sales sector across the internet and through other technology.


Interestingly, Harrods now offer a specialist sales degree exclusively for their staff they want to develop with the classrooms for studying being above their shop in Knightsbridge! The course lasts two years and is the first retailer that offers an honours degree in sales. Unfortunately this degree is only available for Harrods staff, but illustrates how valuable employers consider degrees! An important thing to remember is that a degree will improve your skills in critical thinking and information management, which is one of the main things employers look for in candidates.