We’ve spent years working with sales teams of various kinds and sizes. And the one thing that’s common to high-performing sales teams is drive – motivation so strong and personal that it powers good business decisions and actions consistently. Interestingly, it has little bearings in things like incentives and sales perks. Instead, it’s anchored in values like commitment, ambition, and personal growth and shows in day-to-day behaviors.
Behavior is rooted in internal value systems. Driving ‘good behaviors’ that benefit the organization over long periods of time is no fluke. It’s a hard science. Quite literally.
The discipline of behavioral science isn’t new but its value to the world of business is only just being realized. Hard scientific research on how humans make decisions and act on those decisions is now being combined with intuitive organizational processes like sales. For instance, organizations look to insights from behavioral science to understand how their customer makes a purchase decision. From identifying patterns of buying decisions to developing the right product mix and attractive CTAs, insights from the discipline are helping sales teams influence their customer’s buying decisions and close more sales.
Interestingly, when this same science is applied to influence the behavior of employees, the results are monumentally more profound. When used for positively influencing the behavior of employees, behavioral science serves to empirically establish what really drives an individual in the workplace. Like which internal values motivate employees to overcome failure and keep aiming high? How can managers and leaders leverage these interpersonal value systems to continue driving performance?
Our research and work with various behavioral sciences over the last couple of years clearly establishes the impact positive behavior change has on sales teams’ performance and productivity. New-age sales teams are trying to win businesses in highly competitive markets where the sales cycle is lean, the buyer today is hyper-informed, and everyone is hard-pressed for time. They need more than just an understanding about their customer’s needs and usual buying behaviors. To make every effort of theirs as sophisticated, efficient, and business positive as possible, insights from the world of behavioral science, particularly in shaping consistent behaviors built on internal motivations, are far more useful to a sales-enabled organization today.
Bringing the science into everyday sales routines
Here are four behavior tips that you can use to improve your sales teams’ behavior, drive more sales and grow the business.
#1: Sales reps tend to intensify their effort as they near their goals
Why it works: Research shows that much like athletes, who tend to speed up as they near the finish line, when the end is in sight, people tend to put in additional efforts to finish and finish well.
How to use it: Finishing lines are not always well-defined in the workplace the way they are in a track event. Creating a visual finish line for employees enables them to see how their effort is moving them closer to their goal.
#2: Sellers value fairness
Why it works: Through games like ultimatum, dictator, and similar trust games, behavior studies have shown that people prefer equitable outcomes for all. If a person perceives an outcome to be unfair, they may even reject outcomes that benefit them.
How to use it: When sales teams see high-performers rewarded in a fair and transparent manner, it builds their trust in the organization and deepens their engagement and motivation. By highlighting top performers and establishing a clear, visible link between performance and rewards, organizations get people to recognize qualifiers of success.
#3: Sellers value feedback when done right
Why it works: 5:1 – five positives for every one negative – is the magic feedback ratio. People are more receptive to feedback when it’s provided this way. Because most people fear feedback and feel attacked when they are reviewed. Behavior Scientists recommend that this balanced feedback is what most people are receptive to.
How to use it: Experts recommend that people are more receptive to feedback that describes rather than evaluates. For e.g. saying “I notice you’re always on time to meetings,” without adding qualifying adjectives like ‘brilliant’, ‘wonderful’ etc. Descriptive feedback is the more objective way of reinforcing positive behavior better and pointing out the bad.
#4: Sellers are more motivated when they publicly commit to it
Why it works: It’s a state better known as ‘cognitive dissonance’. People like it when their attitudes and beliefs line up. Saying one thing and doing another creates an internal discomfort, at least till the person corrects their action. This was observed in an experiment done in hotels encouraging people to reuse their towels as a green initiative. After guests checked into the hotel, a trained member of the staff would hand over a card to the guest. The card stated the hotel’s commitment to the environment and invited guests to join their initiative by reusing their towels. Guests received a “Friend of the Earth” pin if they chose to participate. Researchers found that the reuse of towels went up by almost 25%, especially by those who wore the pin.
How to use it: Encourage sales teams to commit to goals, publicly too, so that they follow through with them. At the same time, challenge high-performers to undertake stretch goals instead of settling for complacency – motivating them to push themselves to excel.
Building a culture of sales performance
“Today, managers in forward-looking organizations focus more on grooming sales teams than just being aggregators of numbers. While the earlier focus was on enabling them with real-time data or better visuals, now it is decisively shifting towards building the right behaviors to move fast and close in the most efficient way possible. And deploying tools/coaches rooted in behavior design is the best way to achieve this”, says Ramesh Srinivas, CEO, worxogo.
“With worxogo’s sales Nudge coach our clients experience higher performing teams with sales improvements as high as 25% within a couple of quarters. More importantly this growth sustains because of the right habits built,” says Ramesh.
Insights clearly highlight that organizations who understand and focus on building behaviors in their teams end up with better performing teams, higher outcomes – a win-win for both the sales rep and the organization. In such companies, managers become coaches, and technology assists them to get their teams to perform better.
If you would like to know more about how our sales coach Mia can help your sales team, contact us below.
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