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Sales Motivation for the Good, the Bad and the Ugly



Successful salespeople are a special breed. They are amazing in their ability to sell, their high energy levels and their drive. However, the highly competitive profile of a successful sales rep can also make them a challenge to work with and especially to lead. But lead you must, if you want the kind of motivated sales team that produces better sellers and more revenue for business.

And the lower performing sales reps need leadership and motivation as well, to get them excited to improve their performance and results.

If motivation is lagging among your sales reps, including your top performers, try these ideas to engage and encourage while maximizing performance and minimizing conflict.

1: Understand the personalities of your team
Before you can know how to motivate someone, you must know what makes them tick. Nancy Nardin gave advice to sales managers by saying: “People behave and think differently because people are different.” So get to know your team, as individuals and as a unit. What are their greatest strengths and weaknesses? What motivators have worked for them in the past? What do they care about now? Play to their strengths. Tailor your motivation and reward strategy using your new insights.

2: Listen to your sales reps
Before you begin creating incentives, make it clear you have your reps’ best interests at heart. Listen thoughtfully to their ideas for job improvement or other concerns. Honestly address any concerns your team may have about compensation and pay structure.

3. Take an interest in them
Yes, you’d like them more engaged today, but look to their futures too. Take a genuine interest in the future path of a reps’ career. Mentoring, coaching, or suggesting additional training or coursework can be valuable to a rep and also motivate them to up their performance. Also take a genuine interest their work-life balance. Encourage autonomy and offer work flexibility, where possible. Small gestures like this can make a big impact on employee engagement.

4. Offer incentives
Who doesn’t like an incentive? They can be great for boosting morale. When planning to use them, create incentives everyone can participate in. Also think department- or company-wide. Incentive programs that give employees at all levels of a business the opportunity to benefit when a company does well can boost motivation.

5. Tailor incentives to your sales reps
For your sales reps, however, don’t take a generic approach to incentives. Tailor rewards and motivators. Talk to your team members individually to find out what they value and what would encourage them to improve their sales productivity. Some popular incentives include:

  • Bonus and commission
  • Paid time off
  • Continuing education opportunities
  • Paid attendance at a conference
  • Membership in a business group
  • Advanced career development
  • A new territory
One note of caution: Tie these incentives to clearly measurable metrics and objectives.

6. Take advantage of your top sellers
Use the success of high performers to motivate others and turn great individuals into great teams. Just 13% of reps generate about 87% of revenue. Think what would happen to your sales productivity if you could motivate those sales reps who aren’t the top performers to compete with those who are!

7. Celebrate the wins!
Winning is fun! And, momentum builds momentum. Celebrate when the opportunity is fresh and celebrate often. One of the best ways to dispel some pressure is to reward wins, even small wins, as often as possible. Celebrate the winners, but take the opportunity to give the whole team a boost. Some fun, non-traditional activities you might consider are:

  • Drinks/lunch on the house: This will also encourage your team to bond after a win, and it has the added effect of promoting team cohesion.
  • Reward rejections: The more “no’s” you get the closer you are to a “yes.” Incentivize your team to push past this resistance by making a big deal out of the no’s, and watch sales productivity soar.
  • Get a ping-pong table or other office toys: Chair massagers, beanbag chairs, stand up desk converters, cube art, etc. can all be motivational rewards. Tie this to KPI, or some other quantifiable metric.
  • Public recognition: Publicly being recognized for their accomplishments in front of their peers is that extra little morale boost to keep pushing, and it motivates others as well. You could even give them a crown! Every sales person wants to be the best!

Though productivity is often defined in numbers, it relies very heavily upon people and their attitudes. Getting a read on what your team values and how you can provide a more fulfilling and motivating work environment will provide returns in the way of increased employee engagement—which leads to increased sales productivity. Sounds like a sound investment, doesn’t it?


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