Sales Underachieving? Motivate Your Sales Teams With These Proven Methods

Sales Underachieving? Motivate Your Sales Teams With These Proven Methods


Motivating a sales team can be the most challenging aspects of being a sales manager, however it is also one of the most important. Sales reps need to be extremely motivated to deal with the rejections that they come across during the job. They need to be persistent and unwavering, and this only comes from a strong motivation to close deals and to hit the number. Below are 9 proven methods that can be used to get the most out of your sales team.

Make Commission a Force

Making commission a driving force can have an immediate effect on the direction of sales reps. If you want a certain product to be pushed, make the commission possibilities larger for that product. Be cautious, however, because poor commission structures can also cause problems. Incorporating commission ceilings or receding commission structures can produce an adverse effect on motivation. If the commission gradually reduces in percentage with larger deals, sales reps will stay away from chasing large clients. If a ceiling is put into place, high earners who hit that level will stop working hard as there is no potential for increased earnings. As a sales manager, you need your best earners to continually work and close out a majority of their deals. It is important that the bigger the deal, the bigger the payout will be.

Create a Culture of Friendly Competition

It can be a great motivation method to create social pressure within a sales team. Many sales professionals are naturally competitive individuals and thrive under this structure. Incorporate strategies such as publicly posting sales numbers and conversion rates. By making these numbers known, sales reps will know where they stand in the company and if they need to improve. It creates an environment of friendly competition. Another strategy to create pressure is by having a “man on the bench.” Create a pipeline of talent that can be used to replace existing under-performers. This will put pressure on the laggards to improve.

Celebrate Wins – Big or Small

This might be obvious, but it can’t be understated how important it is for sales managers to, on a personal level, recognize the good work of their employees. Everybody appreciates hearing positive things from their boss. It shows that the manager is paying attention. Even just the two words “good job” can go a long way when it comes to the motivation of a sales team. Make sure your sales team is celebrated – this can be done by a variety of different things, such as gifts, bonuses, vacations trips or things as small as an email blast or a team dinner.

Internally Promote the Sales Team’s Success

Don’t make sales success a secret. Use public recognition to motivate the sales force. Publicly acknowledge sales success at meetings and other gatherings. It gives the reps who are doing well an incentive to keep working at a high level, as well as shows the team that the manager acknowledges success. Another way to bring recognition public is by having a successful rep train the rest of the team on the techniques that they have put into use. This will showcase top performers and give them visibility throughout a company.

Strategically Segment Your Team and Compensate Accordingly

It is sometimes best to segment motivation techniques between laggards, core performers, and stars. These different strata within an organization will act differently to programs. In the case of stars it is best to remove roadblocks to continued success, such as incentive ceilings. It is best to simply limit the possibility of de-motivation for high earners, as they already have the motivation necessary. Laggards require more nurturing to motivate them. They require the stick at times as well as the carrot. The fear of loosing the job might just be enough to force them into action. Core performers are the most difficult to incentivize. They contain a wide range of character traits and are not easily generalized, however tactics such as multi-tier targets have been shown to be successful in moving them up the ladder.

Master the Different Individual Motivational Factors

Try to understand what motivates each member of the sales team individually. A good manager knows how the members will individually respond to different tactics. Everybody responds to different stimuli and it is up to the manager to act accordingly. Ask what they want and experiment with different tactics to see which showed the best response. Some people respond best to money incentives, while others will respond better to non-financial stimuli, such as more vacation days or the ability to telecommute. People feel more motivation when they believe that they have a say in the process.

Equip Teams With the Tools They Need

A lack of the necessary tools to make sales can cause a serious loss of motivation for any sales team. This could be a lack of lead generation stemming from poor marketing, poor sales content, or a time consuming pipeline. When a sales person is unable to do their job well, they will lose any semblance of motivation and most likely leave for another company. Equip sales teams with the necessary tools that allow for a streamlined sale. Invest in the newest sales technology such as cloud based sales applications. This will allow reps to compete at a higher level against other sales reps and will allow them to be as effective as they can be.

Lead By Example

It can be a strong motivational tool for a sales manager to get into the trenches with the sales team. Sometimes what you want accomplished cannot be simply explained. Show them first hand how to handle a call, track down the decision maker in a deal or how to work with an existing client. Just showing them for 10 minutes that you are willing, and can, do the nitty-gritty of sales will have a strong impact on a team.

Repeat, Optimize, and Enhance Your Strategy

These techniques are not one and done. Once you find something that works well for your team, continue to use it. Incorporate these methods into the daily work place environment.

More Creative Motivation Techniques

Here are some more creative techniques for motivation that are a little different.

Rewarding rejections: Reward people for getting rejections (not as much as yes’s though). This will motivate people to increase their volume of calls, which will eventually lead to more yes’s.

Bring in the spouse: Create rewards that involve the spouse and family. This will create more motivation for the rep as their significant other becomes involved too and motivates them at home.

Team building happy hour: Have a happy hour (paid for by the company) for all of the sales teams that have reached their quota. Along with motivation, happy hour is good for team bonding.