Review your Sales Team’s Motivation to Succeed

Review your sales team's motivation to succeed

Table of Contents

Hopefully it goes without saying that a minimum requirement of salespeople is that they are motivated to achieve.

Of course we know that this also has many levels of complexity with regards to hidden weaknesses, desire, commitment, outlook and responsibility.

But motivation is something you as a business needs to take responsibility for, because even if a salesperson has all the right skills to succeed, there still needs to be external influences that provide them with motivation to sell.

Many people would likely assume that every salesperson is motivated mostly by money – that how hard they work is reflected in their income. But that is not necessarily true – even for those who might say it is, evaluations and research have certainly proved otherwise. 

The first thing to understand about motivation, is that it comes from within a person. So you need to work out what internally motivates each of your salespeople to then be able to respond to it in an individualised way. Wouldn’t you value being able to recognise whether any of the following motivators are evident for anyone in your team? (Courtesy of Objective Management Group).

  • Loves to win – or hates to lose? It’s a subtle difference, but you would take a completely different approach to motivate each of these two types of salespeople.
  • Spends money to force performance – or performs and spends the money as a reward? Just like the first example, the difference is subtle, but your motivational approach would be different.
  • Responds better to being pushed by the sales manager – or prefers to push himself? If you are familiar with the scene in “Facing the Giants”, you’ll have a good idea of what it means to be pushed to be the best.
  • Performs better when closely managed – or when left alone? Some salespeople cannot function well when left to their own devices. They don’t self-start or self-direct and need to be directed and/or be part of a team.
  • Performs better when competing against others – or when competing against her own expectations? What if the mediocre salesperson would rise to the next level if the competition and the rewards were compelling enough?
  • Responds better to recognition – or satisfaction after meeting and exceeding goals? For some, it doesn’t get any better than hearing their name called out, receiving an award or plaque, reading about themselves on a website or being listed as the winner. Others couldn’t care less about all of that because the self-satisfaction one gets from knowing they’re the best is all they need.
  • Is motivated by proving someone else wrong – or proving himself right? There are some salespeople who can be motivated to achieve greatness just because someone told them that they would fail at sales, that they weren’t ready for this role, that they couldn’t sell that big account, that they wouldn’t beat out that particular competitor, or that they could never earn that much money.

In the old days (pre-2008), if salespeople were motivated, then they were probably motivated by money. According to data from Objective Management Group, 54% of salespeople were money-motivated during the 1990’s and first half of the 2000’s. However today, research shows that no more than 27 per cent of salespeople are what the industry now call ‘extrinsically motivated’ (where the ‘carrot on the end of the stick’ works.) This means understanding your sales team’s intrinsic motivators is extremely important in order to be able to help them to achieve.

So how do you review your sales team’s motivation? By first evaluating what motivates them, and then working out if that motivation is currently provided to them. If it’s not – then there is little chance they are being motivated to their full potential.

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