How To Motivate Your Sales Team When Sales Are Down

Sales is a very demanding profession. Reps regularly have to talk to complete strangers and convince them to buy what they have to offer. The chances of rejection are high, and some days, you just don’t feel like picking yourself up and striving to make a sale. While slumps are a part of a salesperson’s job, effective motivation ensures that this decline does not last long. Here are some key tips to help motivate your sales team when sales are down.

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How To Motivate Your Sales Team

With a disengaged sales team, businesses experience higher churn rates, missed sales targets, and failure to complete financially viable deals. As the sales manager, your objective should be to pick your team up and inspire them to accomplish their objectives. Here are a few tactics to motivate your sales team:

Enable Free Flowing Communication

How many times have you had your sales rep come to you and talk about how this month has been unusually difficult? Most sales reps don’t.

This is because managers often fail to build a culture that allows salespeople to voice out their feelings. The foundation of motivation lies in trust—and unless you build trust with your employees, you cannot possibly inspire them to achieve their goals.

Here’s What You Can Do

The best way to build trust for managers is to be transparent about their feelings and engage with your team members regularly. Even discussing a normal day can be a great way of initiating a tradition of open communication where the sales rep doesn’t feel uncomfortable talking about how they feel.

Successful managers make sure their employees are part of the process by asking questions like: “John, I want to make sure we can trust each other. Do you have any suggestions on how to go about this?” Not only is this method straight-forward, but it is highly effective.

Understand Your Sales Team

As a sales manager, it is important to know that while they may work as a team, your salespeople are different individuals, driven by different factors.

It is critical to understand what is hindering your team’s performance both on a group and an individual level. This will provide you insights into their personalities and allow you to identify triggers that can motivate them.

Here’s What You Can Do

As a sales manager, you need to clearly ask what motivates your reps. It’s also a good idea to ask for feedback on new motivation strategies. Even if this seems obvious, giving them ample time to think about it can result in answers that are rich in context.

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Tinker Your KPIs

Your key performance indicators are crucial metrics through which to gauge performances. But inflexible KPIs might do more harm than good. Relentlessly pressurizing salespeople to meet targets that are unrealistic or beyond their capabilities is a recipe for increased workplace stress, decreased motivation, and lagging productivity.

Different sales reps are motivated in different ways. While creating a customized plan for every individual may not be feasible, you can may consider implementing a tiered KPI system. For example, you can work on a three-tier plan that breaks down daily, weekly, and monthly targets. Here’s an example:

Here’s What You Can Do


Daily targets are short-term. They have to be very specific. These can include things like moving at least four deals to the next stage, or initiating contact with 5 new prospects. The key is to have achievable tasks that inspire confidence in your sales reps, while helping them work toward the monthly targets.


As the accumulation of seven daily goals, weekly objectives are much more business-oriented. This can include business development and qualitative goals, such as an improvement in call outreach quality. The reward for reaching this should be something tangible, such as a pass to a nice restaurant, or a round of golf with the senior manager.


As the biggest of the tiered KPIs, these targets carry high-value rewards that are based on 30-odd days of outstanding sales performance. The goal can be to achieve an unusual number of leads or to maintain consistent quality throughout the month.

When it comes to rewards, this has to be something of value that inspires the sales reps who missed out on it in the previous month. While some organizations give out gifts like GoPro cameras, others prefer to set up monetary rewards. Either way, the reward should be reflective of the effort required. You may even consider allowing your reps to choose their own rewards!

Train Your Team

Perhaps the issue holding your team back is a lack of training. It can be demotivating to feel that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to bring in or close a lead. If your sales reps are facing repeated failure, it can wear down morale and the bottom line quickly.

Here’s What You Can Do

Have your team complete a performance evaluation to identify weaknesses and skill gaps. From there, you can build a targeted training program to help hone these skills and give your team the edge they need to succeed. With the right training, your reps can improve their skills, and as they begin to hit their KPIs, you should see morale pick up.

Develop A Highly Motivated Sales Team

A highly motivated sales team is bound to produce extraordinary results. Having invested 20 years in the process of hiring and onboarding sales representatives, HireDNA can point out the skill gaps in your team and help you train your reps and implement strategies for success.

With data-driven insights and scientific staff assessment tools, we can help you create a sales team that is able to deliver quality results, year over year.

We Have The Stats To Prove It:

  • Our sales assessments result in a 33% boost in sales productivity
  • We help organizations uncover 33% more sales opportunities
  • Our clients experience a 25% increase in top-line revenue growth

Are you ready to build a successful sales team that is inspired for greatness?

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Top Situational Interview Questions For Sales Reps

Situational interview questions are hypothetical questions that allow hiring and sales managers to assess various aspects of a candidate’s skills and personality without allowing candidates the advantage of responding with cookie-cutter answers. Let’s take a look at some of the top situational interview questions for sales and what a good response for each may look like.

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The Cost of a Bad Hire

Hiring the wrong sales rep can cost your business money—lots of money. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor cites that the cost of a bad hire is at least 30% of the employee’s earnings in the first year. With these numbers, it’s clear that hiring the wrong sales rep is one of the worst yet most common mistakes a business can make.

This is mainly due to the fact that hiring is typically done without adequate evaluation of the critical skills that are needed for the job. In fact, approximately 45% of hiring managers are unable to fill key positions due to a lack of qualified talent.

In addition to comprehensive candidate assessments, one solution to help improve the candidate screening process is the use of situational interview questions.

Use the Objective Management Group© Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator to calculate the potential cost of hiring mistakes for your business.

The Top 4 Situational Interview Questions

Here are some of the top situational interview questions that you can ask candidates for your sales team. We’ve included some insights into what the questions are really looking for as well as the elements of what may constitute a good response.

How Would You Handle A Lead Who Is Not Ready To Close?

This is one of the most crucial questions that a hiring manager can ask, especially considering how reps have to deal with varying sales cycles, depending on the business. The answer to this particular question can reveal the candidate’s service skills, ability to think outside the box, and communication skills. In particular, it can demonstrate how the rep is able to personalize the experience for each lead/prospect, which is a crucial aspect of sales today.

Assessing The Answer

A good answer may include something like: “I would start by trying to understand the specific pain points that the lead is currently facing. I would then try to explain, through various media such as a presentation, or a quick demo, how our solution works to address that specific problem. I would do this while taking into consideration their hesitation, and including their doubts into the presentation.”

What Was Your Longest Losing Streak? And How Did You Turn It Around?

Every salesperson goes through dry spells, where no matter what strategy they deploy, they just can’t seem to close a lead. Ideally, the candidate you are looking to hire takes pride in learning—and moving on from failures. This question can help to draw out a response to assess how honest the person is, how they cope with a demoralizing situation, and how much effort they are willing to put into salvaging a seemingly negative situation. Beware of anyone who claims to have never experienced a downturn, as this conveys a degree of ignorance—or even outright lies.

Assessing The Answer

A good answer to this question should include how the candidate explored the reason behind the downturn as well as the steps they took to eradicate such a behavior/habit. While self-motivation does help when faced with a slump, great salespeople look beyond the surface to see what caused it and how they can avoid it in the future.

HireDNA has an 80% placement success rate for hiring sales reps. Learn More.

How Would You React If A Superior Criticized Your Work?

Considering the importance of sales to your organization, salespeople should be open to criticism from their superiors. How they react to criticism can help you assess their ability to take on feedback. The candidate’s answer to this question can reveal their ability to accept their flaws, learn, and grow. Remember, a candidate who is able to take criticism will also likely be emotionally mature.

Assessing The Answer

Sales is a ‘coaching’ job. When a superior criticizes their work, the best candidate is likely to take it as something positive that can help them grow. A great answer to this question will likely include a personal anecdote from the candidate describing an instance of criticism from their superiors and how they analyzed it to find and resolve flaws in the way they conduct business.

Owning up to mistakes and growing in the process is what contributes to a successful organization, and increased sales.

How effective is your sales team? HireDNA offers comprehensive sales staff evaluations to identify key performance gaps and immediate opportunities for growth. Learn more.

How Would You Exceed Expectations In This Role?

When seeking to add a member to a winning sales team, the ideal candidate should perform above and beyond the job description. A candidate who has the ability to look beyond their specified job duties—without failing to identify the vitality of their core tasks—is a perfect fit for an organization looking to scale and grow.

Assessing The Answer

A great sales candidate will likely identify the core roles that they are expected to fulfill then go above and beyond to explain how they can fill in as a helpful resource in other areas as well. The best responses are likely to draw upon a past incident where they went the extra mile to help their employer.

Build A Successful Sales Team

Highly successful sales teams can be traced to an intelligent hiring process that goes beyond basic measures to ensure that the candidates you hire are a perfect fit for your organization. HireDNA uses a science-based sales recruiting and training process to help identify the right candidates, improve retention, accelerate ramp up, and maximize performance.

We Offer Proven Results:

  • 50% faster new hire ramp-up
  • 80% placement success
  • 79% candidate retention
  • 80% of our sales talent search ends in a successful hire
  • Eliminate 96% of hiring mistakes
  • Our partners experience 25% top-line revenue growth

Are you ready to hire top of the line sales talent?

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Top Retention Strategies For Sales Employees

Highly skilled sales employees are one of the most prized assets of any organization. Their experience and expertise in securing and converting leads make them indispensable. Naturally, organizations remain highly concerned with retaining these top performers. In this post, we’ll cover some key retention strategies for sales employees.

The Importance of Retention

With the number of employee resignations rising to 3.5 million in April 2019 alone, senior sales executives are calling employee turnover one of their biggest challenges. Due to the pivotal role that salespeople play in the growth of an organization, having to repeatedly hire and train new reps is an obstacle that must be overcome.

Additionally, a high employee turnover leads to steep costs, hindering revenue generation. Replacing your sales team isn’t easy. The average cost per sales rep amounted to $97,690 in 2017, and that cost will likely continue to grow with time.

Similarly, it takes considerable time (between 5-8 months) to sufficiently onboard and train sales reps so they can start generating revenue for the business. This makes the establishment of effective retention strategies a dire need for sales organizations across the globe.

Avoid this loss of time and money. Set up a consultation with one of HireDNA’s sales recruiting and training experts today! Contact Us

Approaches To Building Employee Loyalty

45% of sales reps start exploring their options within three months of joining a new organization, with only 19% deciding to stick around long term. This statistic highlights a general lack of specific retention plans for employees. Often, there is minimal effort made to address the root cause of the issue.

It’s important to be proactive to help reduce employee turnover. Here are some excellent tactics that sales organizations can use to put an end to the continuous cycle of sales turnover:

Retention Starts with Hiring

Begin your hiring process with a solid understanding of the ideal candidate profile for success in your unique sales environment. List the personality traits, behavioral characters, and skill candidates must possess to perform at a high level. Organizations that use sales assessments in the hiring process to validate compatibility before hiring experience a 39% increase in quota attainment, and lowering turnover by more than 11%.

HireDNA provides science-backed predictive sales assessments with a 92% candidate success rate. Learn more.

Ensure Adequate Guidance

Due to increased workload and higher quotas, sales managers are often unable to coach their reps. This results in a team that is not aligned with the organization’s short- and long-term goals.

Taking this into consideration, ongoing sales training is a must for improving the performance of your sales reps. For example, training your sales reps to shift their mentality to ‘solution providers can result in them taking ownership, and in turn, increase loyalty.

Build Bonds

It’s also important to create an emotional connection with your employees. To help improve team bonding, consider scheduling a casual monthly or quarterly team outing. This provides a space for team members to interact face to face in a friendly setting. Internal sales competitions can also be a great way to improve engagement.

By increasing engagement, you can build a relationship based on loyalty and trust with your team. This benefits both parties. As the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) reports, engaged employees have a 400% lower chance of leaving their workplace. Your engagement efforts can also improve employee productivity and eventually result in increased sales and customer satisfaction.

Offer Challenging, Non-Redundant Work

Sales reps perform best when faced with challenging situations and clients. Dull, repetitive work makes your employees feel like their talents are being wasted or simply unappreciated. To prevent your best members from losing interest in the company, give them fresh challenges that go further than just assigning them bigger clients.

For example, give your sales reps responsibilities that require them to implement complex strategies to attract enterprise accounts. Let them handle the launch of a new product or incoming leads from a specific marketing campaign. You can even consider assigning them an advisory role in addition to their regular work. This can help to keep them interested while also making them feel more valued.

Incorporate Modern Sales Tools

Organizations need to provide salespeople with the right tools to ensure they are making the best use of their ability. As technology continues to improve, modern sales tools allow reps to have the right information at the right time.

For instance, a CRM system like HubSpot allows sales reps to access all customer/lead related information from a single dashboard. Additionally, modern tools support remote access, which allow sales reps to work on the go—increasing productivity and profitability, and improving flexibility in the workplace.

By providing teams with the right set of tools to grow, organizations can help ensure they don’t leave in pursuit of greener pastures.

Build A Positive Culture

As the largest generation of the US workforce, millennials need more than just monetary incentives to stay loyal to an organization. Research shows that 80% of millennials require a work culture that fosters personal development and growth. Similarly, they want to work towards something that makes a positive impact, and holds value.

To cater to this demand, businesses need to be extremely transparent about their goals and vision. Moreover, it is important for sales leaders to recognize and reward high-performing employees for the milestones they have achieved.

The key is to keep the goals realistic and implement performance tracking that encourages employees to perform better. Sending in regular performance updates and bonus reminders tends to go a long way to help improve employee dedication and performance.

Read our blog post on How to Create a Winning Sales Culture for more great tips!

Decreasing Employee Turnover Is A Must

Sales employee turnover is a common problem. As experienced salespersons desert the organization, supervisors are left to restart and rebuild—adversely impacting the overall performance and efficiency of the department.

With a concrete employee retention strategy in place, businesses can work to improve engagement and hold on to their experienced sales reps.

HireDNA Can Help

HireDNA is a leading sales recruiting and training firm. We offer a full range of services to help you build and retain a winning sales team:

Are you ready for all-time low employee turnover rate? Speak with our experts today.

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