Cold calling isn’t easy.

On average, it takes 18 calls to even connect with a buyer. And when you do get through, there’s a 50% chance that they’re not a good fit for your product anyway.

With the odds stacked against businesses, it’s vital to have a motivated sales team.

Motivation comes in many different forms. Some stem from external factors, such as commission and non-financial incentives.

But some also come from understanding that if you keep doing the right things—setting tough goals, building prospect lists, and preparing effectively—then sooner or later, you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labor.

With that in mind, here are seven tips to keep sales teams motivated:

1. Set goals and challenge yourself

From the number of calls you make in an hour to the proportion of conversations that lead to opportunities and pitches, sales is a profession that lends itself well to setting targets.

For instance, let’s say that you need to make $100,000 to accomplish your personal goals. With a bit of simple math, you can calculate how many deals you need to close to reach that target.

Now, say you convert one in 30 calls into an opportunity, and one in four opportunities into a sale. Working backwards, you can calculate roughly how many calls you’ll need to make to hit your financial target. Give yourself a time period to achieve it in—say, two years—then use that figure to establish how many calls you need to be making day in and day out to get where you want to be.

This method will help you stay on track instead of procrastinating. And if you can exceed your daily calling targets—or increase your cold calling success rate—that just means you’ll hit your targets faster.

2. Create a list of prospects

Two in five salespeople say prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process. That shouldn’t be a surprise. Prospecting is time-consuming and often feels like a thankless task that’s far removed from what you really want to be doing—having real business conversations, moving prospects through the buyer cycle, and closing deals.

Yet, it’s an absolutely crucial activity. No matter how engaging and persuasive you are on the phone, you won’t get anywhere without first investing time in effective prospecting.

The first step to prospecting is to create an ideal client persona (ICP) —the type of organization on which to focus your attention. Your ICP should be made up of characteristics like:

  • Sector
  • Size (in terms of revenue and headcount)
  • Location
  • Stage of growth
  • Goals
  • Pain points
  • Priorities

Build a list of 30 decision-makers at organizations that match your ICP—people who will benefit from your product and have the power to say “yes” (or at least to play an influential role in the buying process).

Now, find out as much as you can about those prospects. Look them up on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Learn about their interests. It’s much easier and more rewarding to strike up a conversation when you know what makes the other person tick.

3. Schedule your calls

You’ve already taken the time to work out how many calls you need to make in a given day, week, and month to achieve your personal targets. The next step is to hold yourself accountable for delivering on those plans.

Open up your calendar or planner and schedule the calls you’re going to make—every single one of them—each day for the next three weeks, using the information you gathered when building your prospect list. Treat those appointments as gospel—just as if they were meetings with your CEO.

The calls shouldn’t simply be randomly inserted into your calendar. Establish the best time to reach out to each of those prospects based on what you know about their activities and common practices in your industry. If it’s common for board meetings to be held on Monday afternoons, don’t expect to reach many senior-level decision-makers at that time.

This is a fantastic way to build in discipline to your day and cut out wasted time by making it crystal clear what you should be doing at any given moment. If you fall behind schedule, it should be easy to see where you veered off track, making it easier to course-correct going forward.

4. Preparation is key

There’s no such thing as being over-prepared for a call. Preparing effectively gives you the best chance of making highly targeted calls, because you have a stronger understanding of what’s on your prospect’s mind.

It allows you to be more professional and efficient, keeping wasted words to a minimum. And it helps you feel more confident that your call will go smoothly, because you’ve taken the time to plan your strategy and anticipate likely objections.

In short: going into a call knowing that you’ve given yourself the best chance to succeed is a huge motivator.

Yet an astonishing number of SDRs simply don’t take the time to do their prep. They don’t know what they’re going to say, or how best to communicate their message.

Do the hard yards upfront by writing a cold calling script. You won’t want to stick to it religiously—after all, your prospect hasn’t read the script, and the conversation might go off on a tangent—but it’ll provide you with a useful framework. And prepare some probing sales questions in advance to help you get your prospect talking and capture the information you need.

5. Work in bursts

Even the most committed salespeople can’t hit the phones hour after hour and still remain sharp.

It’s important to take the time to gather your thoughts, analyze what worked well (and what didn’t), and stay fresh. After all, you need to have your wits about you in the event that a prospect asks an unexpected question or comes up with an objection you’ve never heard before.

Force yourself to take regular breaks. In fact, you should try to build them into your schedule when you’re booking your calls in advance.

It might seem like wasted time, but taking a quick walk and clearing your head is the best way to keep your energy levels up, ensuring that when you’re back at your desk, you’ll be ready to throw yourself into another hour of calls.

6. Remind yourself of past successes

Who’s your sales idol? The person whose methods and success you look to emulate? Maybe it’s Dale Carnegie, David Ogilvy, or Zig Ziglar.

Either way, it’s important to remember that even they didn’t close every deal that came their way.

You can’t win them all—so don’t beat yourself up when the tenth prospect in a row hangs up on you. Sales has always been a numbers game, and that’s especially true of cold calling.

Keep yourself motivated by thinking back to a time when you’ve been successful. Maybe you overcame a string of objections, won your prospect’s trust, and persuaded them to book a product demo. Or perhaps you took a prospect all the way from the initial cold call to a face-to-face meeting where you closed a big deal.

Whatever your favorite sales memory, make sure it’s never far from the front of your mind—especially when times are tough.

And remember to celebrate the small wins, too. Like the first time you broke the 50-call mark in a day.

Jack Wilson, Head of Sales at Right Inbox, believes that the only true failure you can make as a salesperson is simply to give up. If you’ve got the motivation and self-belief to keep plugging away, the results will come.

7. Track results and learn from mistakes

Just as you should learn to accept that you’ll never close every deal, it’s also vital to remember that however hot your current streak, there’s always more to learn. The moment you stop developing and striving to step up your game, you’ll find yourself heading backwards.

To identify areas for improvement, you should be tracking your results. Don’t just focus on top-level metrics like the number of sales you make; dig a little deeper to focus on factors such as:

  • The average number of calls you make in an hour/day/week
  • Your average conversion rate of cold calls to follow-up calls
  • The average number of contacts you make with each prospect before they’re ready to book a product demo

Measure your progress over time to identify learnings such as your most productive times of day and the types of prospects you’re most likely to close.

Conclusion

Motivation is arguably the biggest challenge for any salesperson.

Keeping motivated is harder than dealing with difficult prospects, learning new skills, and knowing your product inside and out.

And it can be hard to explain, too. Some days you’ll come into the office feeling super-driven; other times, it’ll seem like a chore every time you pick up the phone.

But if you follow these steps, you’ll give yourself the best chance of maintaining a motivated, positive mindset, regardless of the other challenges you face along the way.