Simple ways to Motivate your Sales Team

Defining motivation, it is the act of getting people to do what you want them to do because they actually want to do it.

You have to agree that things would be easy if it were this simple but it is not. There will be days when your sales reps will have their off days and will need more than achieving targets as fuel to drive them. This is normal and is bound to happen but you have to recognize when such a day turns into days, it is bound to impact results.

If you have worked in a sales department or even managed one, then you have come across the go to Palovian response to such a scenario which is throwing money at the problem. Big mistake. Even further, asking managers, they tend to gravitate towards hiring sales reps that are money motivated as this strategy falls in place with their counter measure to slumped sales. I do not agree with this because if you take your time to interact and get to know your sales reps, they will share that aside from a fat pocket, recognition and professional development are factors they appreciate.

This brings me to the two forms of motivation.

  1. Extrinsic Motivation

Factors that are derived from external factors and has an external reward. An example being, meeting your sales quota expecting to be rewarded by a high commission or bonus.

2. Intrinsic Motivation

Engaging in an activity because you achieve an internal reward or personal satisfaction. Example, working to meet you sales targets because it makes you feel content, fulfilled and purposeful at work.

While a lot of companies fall short by focusing on the former, statistically the latter has proven to generate long term and more impactful results. Meeting psychological needs is more fulfilling.

Let me be clear, this does not mean you should slash their commissions. Sales reps work really hard and deserve this incentive. To maintain effort, drive and results, your sales reps need to find and optimize motivators beyond money that works for them. As I believe I am talking to team leaders and managers, it might not be your job to help them find these motivators but it is in your best interest to do so, depending on your leadership style and company beliefs.

I have listed proven and tested tips you can use to inspire your sales team

Coaching and Training

There is value in mentoring and leading by example. Interest in your sales rep professional and career development is welcomed and appreciated. Try and spend time identifying areas of improvements with tips on the proper ways to tackle customer related tasks or day to day hurdles. Provide grounds for feedback on the advice given, continuously working on bettering their skills. Also, empower them with product knowledge. Position them to be informed, intelligent and hands on when it comes to answering customer questions related to your products or your brand in general.

Normalize Recognition

Public displays of appreciation have more of an effect when it comes to motivating. This makes your sales rep feel valued and their efforts appreciated. This also inspires the rest as everyone will want to feel seen. And what do you know!? It does not cost a thing to do so.

Effective ways to do this include:

  • Aside from the big wins, also reward the small ones.
  • Choose team meetings or monthly reviews as a time to do so.
  • Be compliment specific, let them know what exactly they did that made you happy.
  • Give out thoughtful rewards. Knowing your reps, reward them with something that will be of value

Create a positive work environment

Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself, “Is this an environment that I’d be glad to be working in?” A culture that welcomes openness and honesty is a thriving one. If your reps can come to you when they have a problem then you are doing the right thing. We so many times see sales reps that would rather hide issues they are combating letting them come to light in their own time because they are afraid of being scolded or the repercussions that come with the mistakes they made. We do encourage directness. Yes, let them know when they are on the wrong but counter this with a helping mindset.

Set Goals and Targets

Set goals that your reps can inspire to achieve or know constitutes success. While you do this, go a step further and empower them with things like customer insights, market trends and data than can help them narrow down on successful selling. Stick to the goal rule which is;

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Each rep is different so evaluate each and set specific targets for them. Track progress and help make adjustments if necessary.

Incentives and Rewards

Devise a plan that can be grouped into two when it comes to rewards.

  • Monetary rewards – I do not have to explain much, this should be based off your rep’s performance. By this I mean, commissions, bonuses, salaries of small cash packages depending on the action rewarded.
  • Non-monetary – Be creative about such rewards. The first step could be in actually asking what they would appreciate as a gift. Make it a norm for incorporating such awards as often rather than having to wait until the end of the quotas. It could be a lunch, a shopping voucher, huge employee discount.

Keep asking and observing till you find what will eventually work.

Be an Example

Do not be afraid to get your hands dirty. Lead by example. Once in a while join your team in the field and spend the day selling. Could be as a field sales rep, merchandiser or van seller, depends. Get to experience what they do. This will bring them closer to you having seen that you can actually blend in with them. Afterwards give a feedback on areas of improvements but still complimenting them on areas you saw they perform well in.


How do you motivate your salespeople? What tactics have worked best for you? What tactics haven’t worked?

Let us know in the comments below.






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