While all of your employees need and deserve to be motivated as the business weathers the economic climate, the sales team on the frontlines of battle for revenue and profits is perhaps the most important segment of the payroll to consider. Sales expert Nicki Joy travels the country giving motivational speeches and sage advice about sales tactics. She offers these tips to energize a team:

Make sales and salespeople a priority and the key to success, not the cause of any drop-off. Pay attention to what will drive business, and empower your sales team to pursue those opportunities. In other words, do your job as a manager, and let them do theirs as a sales team.

Hire (or keep) people who simply love to sell and the process of selling, whatever they're selling and no matter the reward, if any.

Don't micromanage. Let sales people sell, take risks, initiate, and be unafraid to make honest mistakes. Don't shadow them or look over their shoulders.

Streamline the sales process. Make it easier to sell and close a sale, and reduce barriers and bureaucracy.

Focus on short-term and specific goals, and discuss issues from the easiest to solve to the most difficult, not the other way around. Doing so breeds success and builds momentum toward achieving larger, long-term goals and overcoming tougher challenges.

Have the sales team exchange leads to provide a fresh perspective. For existing or long-term customers, let another sales person offer new ideas or approaches to close those deals, if not take over these accounts.

Encourage and enable sales associates, not just managers, to shop the competition to gain greater and more direct insight.

Be positive, even if you have to fake it.

"What's really great about all of these tips," says Joy, "is that, when the market recovers, it will leave a new and better sales culture behind that will flourish in better times."

— Rich Binsacca