5 Ways To Help Motivate Complacent Salespeople

Complacency can kill the sales gusto. Different thoughts come to mind when you hear the word ‘complacency’. Words like content, stagnant, established, underwhelmed, and even lazy become associated with complacency whether any of it is deserved or not. What does it mean to be a complacent salesperson? Oftentimes it sounds like someone who has achieved what they believe to be a satisfactory level of success and no longer expresses real interest or necessary effort to grow. Is that okay? Maybe, or at least from a business perspective if the overall value exceeds the cost of the salesperson then, in which case, maybe it is better to let sleeping dogs lie. But what if sales growth is necessary and there is idle capacity within the existing sales team? Or, what message does the attitude of a complacent salesperson send to other salespeople aspiring to do better? 


Any seasoned sales manager knows exactly what I mean. They say that a small fire makes small heat. The complacent salesperson often does little more than babysit their past accomplishments (clients) as long as they can to avoid doing anything new or different. There certainly is value in keeping existing customers happy; no argument here, but who decides if it is enough, and if it is not enough, how to move forward? Oftentimes these salespeople have traded in their purpose, inspiration, and desire for mediocracy, stagnation, and an inflated sense of worth and value. This all sounds harsh, and it does not apply to accomplished salespeople, but how do you get long-term mediocre salespeople who are stuck in their ways to get back in the game, embrace new challenges and achieve new goals? Here are just some of the simple ways you can get things moving forward again.


  1. Communication: Have an open and honest conversation with the salesperson. What are their goals, and challenges? What do they find demotivating? Understand their perspective and show empathy towards their concerns.


  1. Set Clear Goals and Expectations: Let them know the performance expectations and goals for this role; including new business. When employees have clear objectives, they are more likely to stay motivated.


  1. Recognize Achievements: Regularly acknowledge and celebrate the salesperson’s success to build their confidence. Recognition boosts morale and reminds salespeople that their efforts are valued and noticed.


  1. Provide Regular Feedback: Offer constructive feedback to help salespeople understand where they’re excelling and where there’s room for improvement. Make sure the feedback is specific, actionable, and focused on growth. Have regular one-on-one check-ins with each salesperson to discuss their progress, and challenges, and provide support. This shows that you are invested in their success.


  1. Adapt to Motivators: Different people are motivated by different factors. Some may be driven by financial rewards, while others may be motivated by personal growth or recognition. Tailor your approach to their individual motivators.

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