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Keeping Telecom Sales Teams Motivated During Chaotic Times

Across all industries, the supply chain crisis has become a new way of life for companies and consumers. For telecom providers, not only are hardware systems delayed, but furthermore, the worker shortage has played a role in software development and service operations. From a slowdown of new innovation to delays in maintaining existing offerings, telecom sales teams are faced with longer and longer pipelines, leading to delays in commission checks.

How is it possible for executives and managers to motivate by keeping enthusiasm, morale and commitment high when the mood is so low? It starts by recognizing the reality of the situation with both your sales teams and customer service reps, so they feel more in control of this ongoing and uncontrollable situation. Openly discuss the obstacles and structure new incentives relevant to the timelines and pathway for today’s deals.

Unreliable Forecasting

Planning has replaced predicting. The erratic supply chain schedule from sourcing to production to deliverable completion has been disruptive for telecom manufacturers and technology partners, blurring forecast analytics. Consumer demand is high, but shortages and delays in sourcing and production of semiconductors, chips, routers, circuits, IoT devices, and more make it impossible to know when deals will be fulfilled. If we can’t get supplies, we can’t build or deliver products, so there is nothing for customers to buy and use. It’s a simple equation without a simple solution.

Motivation Tip: During a storm, the best leaders know they need to change how to achieve the wins. For example, if you have a 10-step process from prospecting to close—create incentives for achieving the first 4 or 5 and again at 7 or 8 to keep morale high. For your telecom sales teams to stay engaged and eager, celebrate getting people to the different steps because right now, every step forward matters.

Inflationary Costs

When companies are fortunate enough to have orders fulfilled swiftly and are staffed with trained workers to support service offerings—because of the current economic conditions and scarcity of critical integrated components, costs are much higher for both you and customers. As a result, telecom sales teams won’t be able to earn extra commissions that come from the once popular upsells like enhanced features, additional accessories or extended warranty service plans. This means the deal may close but with a once-anticipated huge chunk of the commission check no longer there.

Motivation Tip: Everyone loves “the extras” in a deal, so when customer’s can no longer afford them—it can knock the wind out of both sides, causing disappointment and frustration. This is the time managers need to redefine commission models and provide new training on how to upsell during tough times. Seeing less in our commission checks is never easy, so we need to create ways for our teams to communicate the relevance and value of the add-ons and perhaps structure new payment plans, so customers don’t feel hit so hard at one time.

Customer Expectations

Some long-time customers (both B2B and B2C) may mistakenly believe that if their order is moved to the top, it will shorten their timeline, but with most products made and shipped in volume, it won’t make a difference. And, in the case of service offerings like warranty maintenance support and repairs requiring trained and skilled workers, delays are happening because of labor shortages making it much harder to keep up with demand. For these reasons, sales professionals are being hit with lighter and less frequent commission checks, along with the anxiety that ongoing delays will put their customer relationships at risk for future transactions.

Motivation Tip: Remind your sales teams to listen to customers and find ways to help them solve short-term problems while waiting together to complete the long-term goals. Most importantly, get creative and adjust your pay-out structure to match changes in the supply chain. If sales teams were paid after the install or delivery, change that so they get a percentage of the sale in the deposit phase.

Keeping morale and performance high is possible—the time is now!

By Kathleen Black, Founder and CEO of Kathleen Black Coaching & Consulting, Inc

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