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The value of gratitude in a healthy sales team culture

5 min readNovember 21, 2018

As Thanksgiving approaches, it’s natural to personally count your blessings. But what about professionally? For example, your sales team — Have you shown them gratitude lately for what they do? Like the proverb, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”, research by Glassdoor indicates that employee appreciation translates to better retention rates, engagement and productivity. Expressing gratitude to your team members doesn’t just feel good, it it is valuable!

Creating a culture of gratitude may not be on the top of your priority list, but it should be. Gratitude has many applications in sales, from being grateful to customers to being happier in your work. It paves the way for better sales coaching, stronger customer relationships, and a healthy culture that people want to be a part of. If you want to inspire this kind of culture in your team, you need to lead by example with gratitude.

Leading with gratitude is contagious. Doing so encourages your team to show appreciation. To do this, find some methods that personally work for you to feel more grateful. You will feel more prepared to coach your team on this subject, or lead team gratitude exercises. Consider the popular method of keeping a gratitude journal. All you need to do is buy a journal, and start paying attention to all the little things your team is doing. Then block off time each week to write down the good things each rep has done, especially the unexpected occurrences. A technique like this identifies what you’re grateful for. Once you have settled on doing this, or any other techniques, how do you demonstrate your gratitude?

There are many ways to go about doing so, besides simply saying “Thank you”.
Here are some ideas to help you show gratitude to your sales team now and throughout the year:

Show Gratitude To Your Team With Free Stuff

Who doesn’t enjoy receiving a gift as a token of gratitude? A popular one is treating your team or an individual rep to lunch. If that’s not in the budget, bring snacks, desserts or your favorite coffee to team or one-on-one meetings.

If you have already done that, consider something a little different: treat your team to some stress-reduction by bringing in a masseuse for an afternoon. This is especially well received during more intense times like year-end. Other inexpensive “thank you” gifts include sales books, gift cards to favorite coffee shops or restaurants, movie or activity certificates and other small tokens.

Recognition is Public Gratitude

Everybody likes to be recognized for a job well done. According to a study by Gallup, recognition boosts individual employee engagement while increasing productivity and loyalty. This results in higher employee retention. There are various ways to acknowledge success.

Expressions of gratitude need to be intentional. Trophies may seem cliche, but the gesture can still mean something in the right context. Posting a praise board in a public area of the office makes it easy to simply say thank you to reps for doing more than expected. Recognize your team members for things like helping others with skills development can go a long way in building your culture.

Having a sales leaderboard is valuable, but alone, it isn’t an expression of gratitude. That said, you can turn the leaderboard into a part of your gratitude culture by acknowledging successes during team meetings, and using coaching for the underperformers. Take it a step farther with peer to peer coaching by naming individuals as team experts in their areas of strength. Have these reps share their knowledge with others or explain how they closed a key deal during a team meeting segment. This both rewards the successful rep, and develops a gratitude relationship between your team members.

Demonstrate your gratefulness with team events

A grateful team environment is a relaxed team environment.

Get out of the office and have some fun. It allows your group to blow off some steam and builds camaraderie too! Be sure to ask your team members what they’d find enjoyable, so it’s actually a treat for all involved. You can even add another layer of intentional gratitude by doing a community service activity or project for a local charity together as a team.

Make it personal

If you know your team, you will know that not all people want public praise. A handwritten note or personalized email expressing thanks for something specific accomplished by each individual goes a long way. Remember birthdays and other milestones too. Take time during one-on-one coaching sessions to get to know each rep on a more personal level. Doing so shows you’re genuinely interested in them, builds trust and is a way of appreciating them as individuals.

Listen to what they have to say about current sales practices, training needs and sales tools. This shows them you care and makes it easier to provide them with what they need to succeed. Speaking of giving them what they need to succeed, provide them with consistent feedback and coaching to help boost their performance and reinforce a job well done.

Remember that your reps are people with commitments outside of work. Help them achieve a better work-life balance by rewarding them with scheduling flexibility. This can mean allowing them to end the work day a little early or to miss time to attend a child’s recital during the day without using PTO.

Replace a sales team meeting with a team gratitude exercise

Don’t you think it is time to add a little bit of variety to your weekly stand up or team check in? Maybe this holiday season is a chance to set aside the typical 2019 forecast overviews or end of year reviews for something more engaging and interactive. We suggest doing a complete sales gratitude exercise, and we have provided a guide linked below to do just that. Have each of your team members take a sales gratitude assessment to rank their gratitude with a score, guide them through some team-building discussions on the topic, and help them make gratitude action item commitments at the end of the meeting, similar to the gratitude journal we mentioned earlier.

It’s not important how you show your sales team gratitude. You just need to take the time and effort to do so. These are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. There are many different ways to express gratitude. How will you show your team how much you appreciate each and every one of them? Let me know in the comments below.