Everyone loves a hustler. And in sales, well, you kind of have to be one.
But every rep hits a wall now and then. Maybe they’re burned out, or they’re bored and going through the motions, or they’ve fallen into the procrastination trap. All of those things can make it hard to create and maintain urgency in your sales team.
That’s a problem — because keeping everyone moving at a fast clip is key to sales success. The long and short of it is: if your reps don’t feel any urgency to get a deal done, then why would your prospects?
The good news is that there are levers that sales managers can pull to create urgency on your team that will, in turn, create urgency in the sales process.
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Why is creating urgency within your team important?
Creating urgency on your sales team has three key benefits that are critical to the success of your reps (and have a direct impact on your ability to meet quota).
Prevent deals from stalling out: The biggest reason your people need to feel urgency is because your prospects need to feel it, too. It’s up to your reps to create that for them — to give them a reason to continue moving forward. If your rep puts off a follow-up until tomorrow, or the next day, or if they don’t really care whether a deal gets done this week or next week: that kind of indifference is going to trickle down to their potential buyers.
Maintain focus: If your team isn’t feeling a sense of urgency, it doesn’t mean they’re lazy. But it may mean that they’re not doing a great job with time management, or they’re context switching, or they’re unsure of where their tasks fall on the “Urgent-Important” matrix. When you create a sense of urgency around the right activities and objectives — i.e., the ones that drive conversions — it helps your team know where to spend their time.
Keep energy and engagement high: Adding urgency to your team is also a culture play. You don’t have to be a drill sergeant to get your team moving at a faster clip. There are ways to make it fun (see below) — and actually have it benefit your work environment (whether you’re in office or remote). When you create the right kind of you’ll minimize burnout and boredom, which can lead to unproductive reps and ultimately drive turnover.
5 ways to add a sense of urgency to your team
In a lot of ways, creating a sense of urgency should go hand-in-hand with getting your team motivated and fired up to do their jobs. Ideally, it will also create a healthy level of accountability — and even a little pressure. But what you don’t want to do is create fear-based urgency (i.e., If I don’t do this, I’m going to lose my job and everyone will hate me).
Here are 5 ways you can create the right kind of urgency on your team.
1. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: strategic, data-driven goal setting is critical to your team’s ability to do their jobs well. You’re probably familiar with the S.M.A.R.T. goal framework (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely), so we won’t break it all down for you here. (But if you need a refresher, here’s a great post that gives you all the details you need.)
One overlooked and undersold advantage of S.M.A.R.T. goals is how they can really put your reps into overdrive. There’s no substitute for knowing exactly what you’re working toward and what you need to do to get there. It gives your reps the ability and the confidence to move forward, fast.
2. Identify and remove blockers
Blockers are urgency’s worst enemy. By definition, they stop you in your tracks (or keep you from even getting started). If you feel like you’ve got a team of procrastinators, it’s most likely just a symptom of your reps feeling blocked.
We’ve found that the best leaders have a great system in place for identifying, communicating, and helping to resolve blockers for their employees. Your coaching sessions are a perfect opportunity to discuss blockers on a regular basis. In fact, every 1:1 should include a question that allows reps to share anything that’s challenging them or preventing them from getting to where they need to be.
Blockers come in all shapes and sizes, and your reps may need help pinning down exactly what the blocker is. For example: let’s say someone is dragging their feet when it comes to cold calling. Their blocker may be a lack of cold calling skills, or that they don’t feel enabled with the right messaging.
Working with reps to identify and remove blockers on a regular basis will enable your reps to actually act on the sense of urgency you’re working to create.
3. Ignite competitive spirit
Adding some healthy competition to the mix can do wonders when it comes to putting some pep in your reps’ step. Sales gamification is one of the best ways to make urgency feel fun, not forced.
Sales contests are almost always time-bound and oriented around key metrics, so they naturally get your reps moving fast and keep them focused on the activities that matter most. (Win-win!)
4. Build in accountability
You know those teachers in high school who always gave pop quizzes? Or called on you in class without warning? Okay, maybe they weren’t your favorite teachers, but it probably made you a little less likely to “forget” your homework or flake out on your reading assignment.
Of course, you don’t want to be a “gotcha” manager, always looking to catch people off-guard; that’s a definite culture killer. But you can keep your reps on their toes by building in accountability to goals — not just in your coaching sessions or performance reviews — but on a daily basis.
For example: if your reps are working from home and you’re not quite sure who’s actually working, don’t be shy about “popping” a Zoom on someone every now and then. (Disclaimer: given the current state of the world, this should also come with a heavy dose of empathy and understanding if your reps are working in less-than-ideal circumstances.)
Another way to build in accountability is to leverage triggers and alerts throughout the day. One Ambition customer uses a “10 by 10” alert, where reps are expected to make 10 calls by 10 a.m.; when they hit or exceed that goal, managers get an automated alert through email or Slack, so they know their reps are up and at ‘em.
5. Go with good enough
A lot of companies (including Ambition!) have a “bias toward action” listed as core value. What often keeps this from happening is a desire for perfectionism. Whether it’s getting their sequence “just right” or working and reworking their call script, reps can get hung up on the details and it can majorly slow them down.
Quality is important, but if you’re working to create urgency on your team, encourage an iterative approach to most things. Is it perfect? Maybe not. Is it good enough to start using? Probably so. Trial-and-error, or better yet, testing, allows your team to always be in a state of motion and continuous improvement.
By making this a key principle that your team abides by, you’ll free them up to move quickly and also help them get past any fear of mistakes or failure.