According to CityAM, disengaged employees are costing the UK around £85bn a year in lost productivity.
This however is just the tip of the iceberg. Looking beyond the negative impact on productivity, it is clear that unmotivated and unhappy workers can be very harmful for our organisation. Not only do they stifle business growth but they tear down team morale and even damage our relationship with our customers.
It is, therefore, no surprise that companies who run employee recognition programmes are more likely to hit their goals, keep hold of top talent and stay at the forefront of industry innovation.
The high stakes of Sales make employee engagement a fundamental part of our business. Turnover is particularly high within this sector due to the hard demands and tightly measured metrics we use to manage our sales teams.
Whereas losing the dead weight of those sales reps who are regularly missing their quota and negatively impacting team morale is a cleansing and necessary experience, losing top talent can really hurt. The average sales person takes around 6 months to be fully functioning and productive, so letting valuable team members go can lengthen our ramp to revenue time significantly and create a dangerous gap in productivity.
So, are your employees really engaged? Here are 6 classic warning signs to look out for:
1. Taking too much time out:
An increase in impromptu days off work can be indicative of a loss on interest and commitment by the employee towards the business. A sudden hike in sick days can point to a lack of wellbeing and morale whereby the sales rep doesn’t feel empowered to come into work.
Approach the matter with care and always with the benefit of the doubt. Is there a health concern the business should be aware of and aim to accommodate for or is it in fact a lack of motivation that’s causing the absence? Honesty from both sides will help you distil the best course of action to take.
2. Social and professional isolation:
Another tell-tale sign of disengagement can be an obvious withdrawal from the team and department, both at work and socially. Noticed anybody getting quieter in meetings? Choosing to take lunch-breaks alone? Preferring to tackle tasks single handily? All these could be signs that an individual is feeling detached from the rest of the team and disillusioned about their role.
When this happens, take a look at their surroundings. How is their relationship with the rest of the team? Is the office really a place that allows for collaboration and personal growth? Are you providing enough leadership and innovation to keep your team inspired and hungry for more?
The workplace should enhance the physical, cognitive and emotional wellbeing of workers and it’s the team leader’s job to create a space for that to happen.
3. Nose-dive on quantity and quality of work:
Have you witness an obvious (or slight but prolonged) decrease in the value of someone’s work? A dip in progress could mean the rep is distracted elsewhere - quite possibly glancing at a job site – and is no longer interested in achieving great results for the business.
With Sales, it’s not just the glaringly obvious lack of closed deals that should ring out alarm bells, lapses in the smaller KPIs should also raise concern. Disinterest here could be manifested in the shape of fewer phone calls, missed customer F2F meetings or a decline in data capture. Be sure to check out this guide to learn which KPIs you really should be tracking.
4. Bad attitude:
A personal pet peeve – bad attitude is like cancer for team morale. Reps who have become disenchanted with the company suddenly turn into black holes, sucking up energy, ingenuity and everybody else’s drive.
What’s really corrosive about these particular individuals is that they try to seek out others who may be on the fence, joining forces with other Negative Nellies and undermining anybody who thinks differently from them.
The best approach here is again communication. Try to distil what it is that is making them so unhappy, be open to improving on any constructive feedback and if the differences are irreconcilable, then wish them well and wave them goodbye.
You can teach skill but you can seldom change character.
5. Clock watchers & time wasters:
I’m sure you can think of somebody who’s always that little bit late. Or who takes a lunch break that’s slightly over the hour. How about somebody who starts packing up at 16:45? This careful time-keeping (and in occasions time-wasting) may be a sign that somebody is not 100% invested in the business.
Although life/work balance is super important for up keeping a high job satisfaction rate, an inability to measure work by progress rather than time, could be significant of a weak commitment to work.
6. You have unhappy customers:
If you have suspicions a member of your team is not fully engaged, it may be worth having a chat with your customers. How strongly connected do they feel to you? Are they aware of the latest product offerings or price changes? Have they been receiving the help and support they need?
If an employee is not engaged, this will start showing up on your customer satisfaction metrics, as the rep stops communicating regularly or defining long-term goals with buyers. A lack of business foresight is a true sign that your employee is not planning on sticking around for the long-haul.
And some easy solutions you could start implementing today:
Disengagement in the workplace will happen to all of us at some point in our career. It’s only natural as the stresses and demands of our roles harden, team and leadership changes and we reach different forks in our personal lives.
As a sales leader, it’s in your hands to harbour a safe and exciting environment where reps can cultivate their skillsets and grow their personal development, so that they feel a strong connection to the business and want to do well by it.
If you’ve noticed a member of your team is lacking lustre in recent times, look into the below tips for a possible solution before throwing in the towel… Remember, even top talent can lose their way sometimes.
1. Offer your reps mentors:
Someone they can talk to, review progress with or just freely vent to about workload. This will not only provide them the support they crave but it will also keep them tightly linked to the entire organisation. It denotes care and attention to their wellbeing.
2. Consider their accessibility of tools and training:
You know that dread you felt on your first driving lesson? The pedals, the mirrors, that incomprehensible gear stick… Well, that’s how some team members may still feel about your technology. How are you expected to drive along your journey when you can’t even manoeuvre the vehicle that’s meant to take you there? Consider whether their disengagement could be down to a lack of expertise around a certain tool or business area. Provide appropriate training and support for those who need it most.
3. Break down the sales journey:
For some, big targets are exciting drivers – they provide direction and the thrill of achievement. But for others, they can become so daunting that they paralyse them, not allowing them to identify the steps necessary to reach success. Help your team along by breaking down the sales journey into measurable, smaller steps – clearly highlighting what success looks like for each section. These bitesize targets will help reps clearly see progression and quickly boost their engagement.
4. Pave the way for learning:
Sales runs at a different speed than other professions. And in that frantic rush, development of new skills & technologies may sometimes be overlooked.
As a quick fix, create a thread of conversation (you can try Slack) where all team members weekly share an interesting article that builds on industry knowledge. Whenever possible, invite your reps to attend interesting talks and events that pique their interest.
5. Put together a performance plan:
Help them outline a path to getting back on track by scheduling weekly check-ins, designing smaller benchmarks or by readjusting numbers. Helping your rep refocus time and attention will make them feel less snowed under and recharge their enthusiasm to try again.
And if you’re looking to really spice things up, you can look into launching a sales contest for your entire team. Sales competitions provide a welcome injection of fun, productivity and focus for certain business targets. They might also be your first step towards boosting your employee engagement!
Here’s our most comprehensive guide to getting sales contests right!