1. Communicate sales goals as well as reasons why. If your sales team knows you want to increase sales by 20% in the first two quarters of 2009, do they know why exactly? Why not tell them? If the sales team is aware that if they can increase sales by that much, the company will be able to report record profits to the board of directors who have been concerned about the dropping sales numbers. Even something as simple as that may shed light on the situation a bit better and may inspire a salesman to push a bit harder to make a sale.
2. Offer sales strategies as well as specific tactics. If you share strategies, why not advise with more specific tactics when a salesmen heads out for a difficult sale. Sales is hard enough on its own, and right now, pitches are ultra important. So share your knowledge. Offer to listen to a dress rehearsal and offer tips, especially if the sales team is feeling some nerves about the upcoming pitch.
3. Set short-, mid-, and long-term incentives and share these goals with everyone. If one team sets up multiple goals and then offers incentives for reaching those goals, why not share that with other sales teams? Why not make it a sales department-wide incentive? What's to lose? The important thing is for the sales department to feel a part of something bigger than just themselves.
4. Don't focus on activity (meaningless activities won't help productivity), but focus on the results. Make sure everyone knows when someone makes a sale and make sure to reward both the team effort and the individual effort. Make sure everyone on the team, no matter how small his or her part, gets part of the reward.
5. Create a toolkit of sales tools and documents, sales success stories, and one-on-one mentoring and coaching opportunities. Make a workable repository of tools that make your sales team's job easier from the first step. Make it a point to focus on success stories, especially as sales people head out to pitch a difficult or stressful deal.
Sales can flourish in the most difficult of economic situations. It's a matter of harnessing the fear of rejection, failure, and despair and working through those feelings to better ones on the other side. Make sure your sales team knows you support them 100% and you just may be surprised at how a motivated team can rack of up record numbers against all odds.