Motivate Your Sales Team (Or Else): It Pays to Have Happy Salespeople

HappyFaceThe average employed American spends more than 50% of their waking hours working. However, research reveals that only 30% of all employees, including salespeople, are engaged.

An employee is engaged when they are “involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and contribute to their organization in a positive manner.”

Just how much does being engaged and happy at work make a difference? According to the data: A lot. In fact, Zappos built their $2 billion dollar empire on a corporate culture of happiness.

The cost of unhappiness by the numbers:

1. Lost Sales Opportunities

Sales requires innovative thinking and creative problem-solving. A Gallup poll found that only 20% of disengaged employees agreed their job “brings out their most creative ideas” compared to 59% of engaged employees. Worse, only 44% of disengaged employees shared new ideas with customers compared to 74% of engaged employees.

Gallup (2013) found the top 25% engaged work teams had 10% higher customer ratings compared to the bottom 25%. Research reported on the Harvard Business Review confirms this loss in potential sales from the other angle: Happy salespeople have 37% higher sales.

2. Lower Productivity

According to Towers Watson’s 2012 Global Workforce Study, highly engaged employees have nearly half the rate of “presenteeism” (i.e., being physically present but unproductive at work) compared to disengaged employees (losing on average 7.6 days vs. 14.1 days per year) as well as lower absenteeism (losing on average 3.2 days vs. 4.2 days per year).

The Towers Watson’s study found a 13.7% improvement in annual net income growth in high-engagement companies vs. a 3.6% decline for low-engagement companies.

In a clever experiment by Professor Oswald and his colleagues, people who were made happier through the provision of complimentary snacks and bottled water (a common perk offered at many companies) increased their productivity by 15-20%.

In total, Gallup (2013) estimates disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy $450 billion to $550 billion per year in lost productivity.

3. Higher Turnover

The Towers Watson’s study also found that 40% of disengaged workers said they were likely to leave their employer in the next two years compared to 18% of highly engaged ones.

Research conducted by Liu and colleagues (2012) confirms unhappy employees are more likely to quit: Job satisfaction significantly predicts voluntary turnover. Gallup data tells us that one of the biggest reasons why employees quit is “a lack of fit with the job.”

(Read Gallup’s 2012 meta-analysis on engagement and 9 workplace outcomes here.)

The Bottom Line

Workforce experts claim “the single greatest advantage in the modern economy is a happy and engaged workforce”. So what can companies do to ensure their employees are happy and engaged?

Gallup (2013) suggests that one of the best ways to increase engagement is to select the right people based on scientific and objective selection criteria.

By hiring salespeople with the skills and personality that best fit the job and company culture in the first place, you optimize your chances of retaining happy and productive employees.

And that’s a happy ending you can bank on.

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Ji-A Min

Ji-A Min

Head Data Scientist at Ideal
Ji-A Min is the Head Data Scientist at Ideal. With a Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Ji-A promotes best practices in data-based recruitment. She writes about research and trends in talent acquisition, recruitment tech, and people analytics.
Ji-A Min