Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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6 Tips for Motivating Your Sales Team in the Dead of Winter

February 14, 2014

Can’t wait to turn the calendar page to February? Your salespeople are probably suffering from the mid-winter blues, too.

There’s a funny Facebook post that’s making the rounds right now. It’s a picture of the skyline of Minneapolis, MN, but it could be any city that experiences a “real” winter. “Come to Minnesota for the culture,” it reads. “Stay because you can’t start your car.”

Todd Martin 011614 image 1Even if you live in sunny southern California like I do, January can be a bear, thanks to the post-holiday letdown, the weather, the already-broken resolutions, the W-2s and 1099s in the mail reminding you of tax preparation, the December credit card bills – I could go on, but you get the idea.

If you’re charged with managing a sales team and your company’s fiscal year begins on January 1, you’re painfully aware that the sales odometer has rolled over. You’re back at zero, staring at a list of goals and quotas that you’ve just barely begun to chip away at. While your superstars may seem undaunted by the typical January malaise, mere mortals need motivation.

Put Your Own Oxygen Mask on First

But before you start looking for ways to help your team find its footing and feel some enthusiasm for its 2014 sales, Make sure that you’re motivated yourself. If you don’t feel it, that lack of enthusiasm will seep through to your salespeople. So:

  • Don’t think in terms of the whole year. That’s too daunting right now. Break off a manageable increment, a quarter or month or even a week.
  • Be as healthy and fit as you can be. Exercise – even just walking – takes energy to accomplish, but gives twice as much back.
  • Network with your peers at the company. You’re likely to get some support. Rising above your own lack of motivation and supporting a co-worker also gives back to you.Todd Martin 011614 image 2
  • Remind yourself why you come to work every day. Do you believe in your company’s products and/or services? Do you like being a part of a team that’s working toward a set of individual and group goals? Are you proud of your past successes? Happy that you’ve been a mentor to your salespeople?

Pass It Along

Motivating people takes a number of characteristics. You have to be authentic. Confident. Honest. Positive. Resilient. And at least a bit of personal charisma wouldn’t come amiss.

Here are some of the approaches I’ve taken:

  • Don’t be vague when you’re praising someone. You know how it feels to be complimented on a job well done. Call out good work from the last year, and be very specific about its merit.
  • Bring in the big guns. Has someone already landed a big sale in 2014? Ask someone higher up on the food chain to make a phone call or send a handwritten note.
  • Todd Martin 011614 image 3Do individual coaching. Schedule ride-alongs. Provide immediate feedback. Get together in a relaxed setting and talk shop – and things other than shop.
  • Host study sessions. How well do your salespeople know the products or services they’re selling? Bring in an expert on your offerings. Focus on the benefits you’re providing to customers.
  • Don’t overwhelm. Be realistic about your short-term goals, realizing that winter may not be your peak selling season unless you’re in the snowblower business.
  • Reward excellence in areas that don’t involve numbers. There’s a lot that goes into a winning sales team besides meeting quotas. Recognize other contributions that employees make.

You can always award prizes. The real challenge is moving people closer to their potential without sending them to Cancun.

Stock images courtesy of

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