Imagine this: two sales professionals approach your company selling identical products. One professional is positive and engaging, highlights the product’s value and emphasizes his commitment to delivering superior service each step of the way. The second professional makes a similar pitch but seems disengaged and downright lackluster. There’s no enthusiasm or excitement coming from him. With whom would you rather make a deal?

A disengaged sales force is a recipe for disaster– and it all stems from a lack of motivation. When a sales team lacks motivation, team members don’t deliver superior service or value. A lackluster approach to sales erodes relationships, making it harder to hit quarterly goals and move into new markets. In short, failing to motivate your sales team can set your entire organization up for problems.

Keeping a sales team motivated, especially in a down market, is no easy task. Here in Houston, we’ve been on a roller coaster ride these last few years thanks to oil and gas industry fluctuations. With the market finally showing signs of a recovery, now is the time for your sales team capitalize on this turnaround. Here’s how to boost motivation and drive success:

  1. Use current market optimism to your advantage. The US economy posted strong gains in February adding about 235,000 workers, higher than the 200,000 jobs the economy has gained in a typical month during the current economic recovery. Hourly wages are rising and inflation is holding steady. Here in Houston, after five years of oil and gas volatility, we’re in the early stages of a turnaround. For example, we’ve had positive rig counts 24 out of the last 28 weeks– a strong sign that upstream is recovering. As a sales team leader, your mission is to use this current market optimism to your advantage. Remind your sales team that they are needed and wanted in the marketplace. It’s no longer about just offering the cheapest deal– value matters again.


  1. Retrain your team to sell value. Two years ago, every sale came down to one thing: is this the lowest price you can offer? When the oil and gas industry is down, the market sets the price. Now we’re back in a place where a company can pay more for higher quality– if your team can successfully sell this value proposition. As a sales leader, you need to retrain your team to shift the conversation away from price and back to value.


  1. Build a cohesive sales culture that celebrates success. After weathering several years of volatility, it’s time to celebrate the wins. Keep the focus positive and centered on what you can control around your product, like service, delivery, and value. You can’t control the broader market fluctuations and you certainly can’t stop a competitor from selling a sub-standard product for lower value. Don’t let being undercut bring the team down. Instead, bring the focus back to the sales that go right and celebrate those.


  1. Remind your team they drive revenue. Your sales team needs to know that they are integral to your company’s success. Remind the team that they are the key revenue generators for your organization. Help your team feel valued by tying them back to the company’s long-term strength and goals. When they win with a big sale, everyone wins.


How do you keep your sales team motivated and engaged during a challenging market? I invite you to share your perspective in the comments below.