What All Sales VPs Need to Know About Employee Engagement

by Sabrina Son on May 17, 2016 8:00:00 AM

What All Sales VPs Need to Know About Employee Engagement by TINYpulseWhen members of the sales team are engaged, it’s almost as if a sales VP’s job is done. That’s because engaged salespeople:

  • Do everything within their power to make sure their clients are satisfied
  • Help other members of the sales team whenever they need a hand
  • Try to land additional clients in creative ways
  • Are happy to work where they work and aren’t looking for a gig elsewhere
  • Come up with ideas to improve processes and optimize workflows

Don’t think that it really matters whether members of your sales team are engaged or not? Think again. Here are five ways lack of engagement can adversely affect your workforce:


1. Disengaged employees can be toxic for work culture

Chances are you’ve had a job at some point in your life that you didn’t really like. Maybe you complained a lot. Maybe you took it out on your coworkers by refusing to lend them a hand. Maybe you did the bare minimum and stared down the clock until you could head home.

When people don’t like their jobs, they make it harder on all of their coworkers — even if they don’t mean to. This, in turn, creates a work culture that’s suboptimal at best.

Our 2015 Employee Engagement Report found that work culture is highly correlated with employee happiness. When employees enjoy their jobs, they’re more engaged and more productive. For a sales team, that means more clients and more revenue.

On the other hand, one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. If one member of your sales team is disengaged, that person’s toxic attitude could cause other team members to become disengaged themselves. For example, imagine a coworker refuses to provide help whenever you ask yet asks you for help all the time. Sooner or later, that situation is going to really aggravate you and warp your perception of your job. That’s how disengagement multiplies.


2. Disengaged salespeople could ruin customer relationships

When salespeople are disengaged, profits almost invariably go down. That’s because many disengaged employees have had enough, to the point where they can’t even feign a pleasant attitude.

A majority of our purchasing decisions are influenced by our emotions. When salespeople come across cold and off-putting, customers aren’t exactly encouraged to open up their wallets. What’s more, disengaged salespeople aren’t interested in going above and beyond to solve customers’ problems. They’re content with going through the motions to make it appear as though they’re doing their jobs.

According to a 2011 study, twice as many customers will tell their friends and colleagues about a negative experience compared to a positive one. So in addition to shattering a relationship with a particular customer, word-of-mouth can put your organization in the doghouse with other clients as well while also discouraging prospective clients from coming aboard.


3. Departing sales team members may bring clients with them

On the flipside, let’s say a disengaged member of your sales team has 10 clients — 4 of whom they have absolutely rock-solid relationships with. (The reason they’re disengaged is because they hate the other 6 clients, they hate their company, and they hate their boss.)

When that person leaves their organization, they may very well convince their preferred clients to follow them. Who’s going to stop them from thoroughly explaining everything that’s wrong with the company they’re leaving and why their clients should leave too?

In such a scenario, you’re not just losing a salesperson. You’re losing a huge chunk of recurring revenue. For that reason alone, sales VPs should keep engagement top of mind — always.


4. You’ll lose revenue while you try to backfill a sales position

Disengaged employees don’t like spending 40-plus hours of their weeks working for a company they hate. So even if they don’t do anything that causes you to fire them on the spot, it’s only a matter of time before they’re going to tell you they’ve found a job somewhere else.

In many instances, even when a member of the sales team jumps ship, you’re still expected to meet your revenue goals and help grow your organization. Unfortunately, your existing team is probably already stretched pretty thin, so you may face some difficulty if you expect them to pinch hit for the departing colleague.

Unfortunately, since it can take a while to find the right replacement, you’re almost certain to lose revenue as you search for the candidate who’s the best fit for your team.

In the meantime, you may be tempted to hire any old candidate just to plug the hole. But you’re better off being patient. The last thing you want to do is hire a new salesperson only to have to replace them shortly thereafter because they don’t mesh with the team and quickly become disengaged themselves.


5. Management can play a huge role in disengagement

You may think that you can always squeeze one more sale out of each member of your sales team, but you’d be wrong. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, the higher the sales goals for your team, the less likely you are to reach them.

Imagine, for example, that a well-established company just brought on an ambitious young executive who believes the sky is the limit in terms of growth. The executive decides to set an insanely high sales goal because they believe it will motivate the entire team to work harder than they ever have before.

There’s a problem: One of the senior members of the sales team has been at the company for two decades and knows the market inside and out. That person knows that, barring a miracle, it will be impossible to hit those goals; there’s just not that much of a demand for their product in the area. Dejected, the senior sales member tells their coworkers that the new executive’s goals are completely unrealistic. Instead of working harder, the team is discouraged and slowly becomes disengaged. Sales tumble the next quarter.

Employee disengagement affects all teams in all departments.

But because businesses need to keep their customers happy while continuing to land additional clients, disengagement within the sales ranks might have the largest impact on an organization. It is therefore critical that sales VPs direct enough resources toward measuring and improving employee engagement.



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This post was written by Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the managing editor for the TINYpulse blog. A Seattle native, she loves her morning (or anytime) coffee, spending her weekends on the mountains, and of course, the famous rain.

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