Categories : Coaching Recognition Relationship Building Sales


I recently called a company to make a purchase. A woman answered the phone and her voice was warm and friendly.  I could hear the enthusiasm she had for her job when she asked how she could help me.

I told her I wanted to order a product I had seen in a magazine.  She immediately began asking me questions to take the order.  When she was completing the transaction, she said shipping would be free if I ordered two, noting that was equivalent to a 40 percent discount on the second product.  She asked, ”Would you like to order two?”  I said yes.

Later, I realized this was the first time in quite awhile that a company had successfully convinced me to buy more of something.  I wondered if her supervisor recognized her efforts for boosting the sale or if it was considered just another order. Selling over the phone is tough.  When you’re not face-to-face, it’s difficult to create rapport and trust with a prospective buyer.  Dealing with the daily rejection of people saying no can put a damper on anyone’s enthusiasm.

What is your telecom doing to light a fire under its employees’ enthusiasm to sell?  Here are some suggestions that will help you achieve that goal.

Effective motivators aren’t expensive. Dr Gerald Graham, a professor of management at Wichita State University, did a study on workplace motivators.  His research showed that three of the top five incentives ranked by employees had no cost at all but that managers seldom used them.  Those incentives were a personal thank you from the manager for a job well done, a hand-written thank-you note from the manager and public praise. These are effective motivators because people want to feel valued for their work

Keep a box of blank note slips on your desk and use them. Do you remember the last thank-you note you received?  Congratulations if you do because it has been a long time for most of us – if we have received one at all.  Those who receive thank-you notes remember whom they come from because someone took the time to express their appreciation.  It only takes a couple of minutes to tell an employee what a great job they’re doing.  And if the thank you arrives with a monetary reward, I would bet the employee remembers the heartfelt message of recognition long after they have spent the bucks.

Recognize special occasions. Recognize employees’ birthdays, wedding anniversaries and number of years with the company.  Recognize something special they achieved in their life.  I get a birthday card every year from Southwest Airlines and I love it.  I’m one of 71 million people who flew with them last year and they remember my birthday.  How many airlines send you a birthday card?

Ask your employees what motivates them. Lawrence Lindahl conducted workplace studies in the 1980s and 1990s that examined what workers want from their jobs.  He asked workers and supervisors to rank a list of motivators from 1 to 10 in order of importance. Workers rated appreciation for a job well done as their top motivator while supervisors ranked it eighth.  Employees ranked “feeling in on things” as No. 2; managers ranked it No. 10.  Survey your employees to determine what gets them excited about doing their best every day.  Ask them to share their thoughts on your last recognition program. You may be investing in a recognition program that doesn’t excite your staff.

Show them the numbers. Here are the top two reasons people stay with a company: they feel that the company cares about them and they believe they add value to the company.  Money and benefits rank fifth or sixth in surveys of what employees want most from their employers.  Money may attract people to a company but it won’t keep them there long term.  Keep employees in the loop about what’s happening at your telecom.  Give them monthly sales and expense numbers.  Ask them for suggestions on ways to increase sales and trim costs.  Employees want to feel that they are an important part of the company

Determine the most effective form of recognition. Each of your employees places a different value on different kinds of recognition. The more you understand these values, the more successful your recognition programs will be.  Here’s an example.  A national company with 900 locations conducted a study of cash and non-cash performance rewards. The non-cash group outperformed the cash group by a 46 percent margin.  The non-cash group increased its sales 37 percent over the six months prior to the start of recognition program.  Simple, inexpensive rewards can have a huge impact on your sales and customer service.

Praise and recognition motivate people to put forth their best efforts to perform at higher levels.  If the employee who convinced me to buy more of her company’s products had worked at your telecom, would she have been recognized for her performance?