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Motivating employees is always tough in any business.

To truly engage your customers and keep them interested in your products, you must encourage your employees to engage those customers and to commit to creating an exceptional experience so consumers business with you, instead of buying from a competitor.

How do you get your employees to focus on customers?

Motivating employees is perhaps the hardest aspect of any manager’s job. You worry that you’re not connecting, that your words don’t resonate deeply with your employees, and you struggle to figure out a magic formula.

Employees don’t come hard-wired to perform well in a vacuum. Unless you can find a way to connect powerfully with your crew, your sales are doomed to fail.

When you employ people, you are also taking on all of their innate hardships and challenges; the things they deal with at home, along with the things that keep them up at night.

Their natural tendency is to do less unless someone encourages them to do more.

Here are three ideas for motivating your sales associates that don’t involve paying them based on number of units moved.

1. Give them luxury

For your best performing associates, give them something special. Maybe it’s a box of especially good chocolates at the end of a hard week. Maybe it’s a bottle of Scandinavian water they weren’t expecting. Maybe it’s a 30-minute massage.

Maybe it’s just a handwritten “thank you” note from you, the boss, who they look up to, mailed to their house.

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what the luxury is. It matters that you took the time to think of them and thank them for their work in an impromptu fashion.

The more important or special that you make employees feel, the more likely they will make your customers feel important. One caveat: don’t publish your criteria or you will have to do it each and every time like it’s a contest, which defeats the purpose.

2. Give them time

Time is our most precious resource, and there is no sweeter way to reward one of your sales team than to give them a few hours of their time back.

So for your top performer this month, give them a half or full extra day off — with pay. Do it without any fanfare. Just let this person stay home, sleep late, take care of their kids, or go to a movie while you cover their shift. Don’t make a big deal about it. It’s not a contest; it’s a gift that you are giving them. And when they come back, they will be refreshed.

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3. Give them space

If you’ve seen the movie “Office Space,” then you understand the importance of a red stapler. It represents something that is yours. Even if it’s only a stapler, you have earned it.

Office space — in real life — can feel very much the same. It is home. When you designate physical space to an employee, you are telling that person that they have a place here. A permanent place. They matter.

This is not a small thing.

For your best associates, carve out a place to set their photos of their kids and their dogs, a place for them to pin ridiculous things they might print out from Facebook — whatever. The goal is to let employees feel at home when at work.

These methods only work if you hire people who themselves have some internal motivation. You can’t motivate a rock to move — no matter what you try. If you feel stuck with certain unmotivated employees, don’t give up on motivation but do get rid of the rock-like employees.

Bob is the CEO of The Retail Doctor, a New York consultancy. He is a speaker, sales consultant and author of "The Retail Doctor's Guide to Growing Your Business."  www.RetailDoc.com