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Sales Managers: Focus on Employee Engagement
Blog / Sales Management / Mar 26, 2018 / Posted by Deb Calvert / 5968

Sales Managers: Focus on Employee Engagement


What if you could boost the retention rates of your star performers, increase overall sales productivity, heighten levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty, grow top line revenue AND improve bottom line profit margins? What if one, single thing could do all that? Would you do that one thing?

Of course you would! So why aren’t you?

If you’re like most Sales Managers, the only reason you’re not doing this one thing is because you don’t know what it is… And even if you do know what it is, you don’t quite know how to do it. Or you’re focused, exclusively, on managing sales and you’re leaving out a crucial part of your job.

The one thing that is proven to drive all the benefits mentioned above is employee engagement.

Employee engagement is defined as “the emotional connection an individual feels toward his/her organization that causes him/her to apply additional discretionary effort to their work.” Let’s break it down.

An emotional connection causes people to stick around. It causes them to feel a sense of belonging and a sense of pride in the work they do. With higher retention, you naturally get higher levels of productivity as you reduce turnover and don’t have the slowdowns and errors that inherently accompany the onboarding learning curve.

Because people are emotionally connected, they also choose to apply additional discretionary effort. They work harder. They pay more attention. They do a better job. This improves productivity by every conceivable measure. The higher the levels of engagement, the fewer absences, worker’s comp claims, excessive overtime hours, and errors you will see. Quality and quantity will soar.

The natural outgrowth of employees who apply additional discretionary effort is higher levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty. Those loyal, satisfied customers spend more money. Sales become easier. At the same time, expenses are reduced due to less turnover, fewer errors, and a more efficient and productive team. Voila – profit improves!

The research on this abounds. For example:

“Engagement is the key to performance and retention. Highly committed employees try 57% harder, perform 20% better, and are 87% less likely to leave than employees with low levels of commitment.” – The Corporate Executive Board

And from Gallup: “Organizations with above-average levels of employee engagement reap 50% higher customer loyalty levels.”

Or how about this finding from Hewitt Associates? “Employee engagement scores were 21% higher in double digit vs. single digit growth companies.”

Employee Engagement, in fact, is the “primary enabler of successful executive of ANY business strategy, “ according to DDI’s Employee Engagement paper, “The Key to Realizing Competitive Advantage.”

As a Sales Manager, you might be thinking that this applies to everyone else, but not to salespeople. You might think that salespeople are motivated by money more than emotional commitment. That theory, however, has been disproven.

The CEB says that “Emotional commitment drives effort. Emotional commitment is four times as valuable as rational commitment in producing discretionary effort. Indeed, the search for a high-performing workplace is synonymous with the search for emotional commitment.”

The Objective Management Group further disproves this old-school notion. Data from their study with 150,000 sellers concludes that “50% fewer salespeople are money motivated today as compared to findings from 2007.”

A Salesforce Work Study says that 70% of sales reps leave because of poor relationships with their managers, and that 39% do not feel appreciated at work. It’s impossible to maintain an emotional commitment with these conditions.

The data about employee engagement is compelling. It’s undisputed. And it begs the question, “If I can get all of that from employee engagement, then how do I increase employee engagement?”

There’s one thing you can do to dramatically increase employee engagement. No other variable has greater impact on the engagement levels of sales employees than you, the sales m anager. That’s why it’s imperative that you develop your leadership skills. Learn to lead. Be a manager of sales and a leader of people.

“The best leaders elicit three times the amount of talent, energy, commitment and motivation from employees compared to their counterparts.” This is the conclusion drawn from an extensive study on what drives employee engagement. You can read more about this in Great Leadership Creates Great Workplaces by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner.

To engage employees, you need to show up as a leader. Leading is not the same as managing.

Manage, from the root word mano, means “to handle.” Managers handle the work that needs to get done today. They get work done through other people, focusing short-term and on getting immediate results.

Leader, from the root word leden, means “to guide.” Leaders guide people to exciting and ennobling new places. They clear the path to make it easier for others to travel to new places. Leaders set an example, inspire others, experiment and innovate, build confidence and competence, and buoy others when the going gets rough. Leadership focuses on the long-term and on the development of people.

Leadership behaviors are what boost employee engagement.

You can start here. This daily engagement and productivity checklist will help you start thinking like a leader of people who is building an emotional commitment that will yield additional discretionary effort. By making these choices, you’ll be building competence and confidence and commitment each day.

Focusing on people first will drive sales in the long run. It all starts with you, the leader of people.

Pipeliner CRM empowers precise engagement from sales managers. Get your free trial of Pipeliner CRM now.

About Author

Deb Calvert is one of Treeline's "65 Most Influential Women in Business," a Top 50 Sales Influencer, and a UC-Berkeley instructor. Deb founded The Sales Experts Channel and offers sales training, coaching and leadership development programs. She is certified as an executive and sales coach and is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®. Her bestseller, DISCOVER Questions® Get You Connected, was named by HubSpot as one of the “20 Most Highly Rated Sales Books of All Time.” Her new book, Stop Selling & Start Leading, is now available for pre-order.

Author's Publications on Amazon

Make every sales call count and be the ONE seller buyers actually want to talk to! With DISCOVER Questions®
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NAMED THE #3 TOP SALES BOOK OF 2018! Make extraordinary sales happen!  In the Age of the Customer, sales effectiveness depends mightily on the buyer experience. Despite nearly-universal agreement on the need for creating value in every step of the buyer’s journey, sellers continue to…
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