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Unlock Sales Team Motivation: Personalize, Familiarize and Incentivize

As a sales manager, it’s easy to measure your team’s performance by the money they bring in — but it doesn’t always indicate your company is headed in the right direction. Focusing on these monetary, or results-oriented goals, actually makes it more difficult to motivate your sales team because results are outside of their control.

Remember, the future of your company relies on your sales team. They are the ones at the forefront of your company, kicking off your sales pipelines with conversations, building relationships, bringing visibility to your products and creating customers, so it’s wise that you help them put on their best face by making it more exciting for them to manage those relationships.

So, how exactly do you go about motivating your team?

For starters, it’s centered on getting to know the individual and getting them comfortable enough with your company to focus on those smaller, more significant goals that they can control, such as initiating conversations with “X” amount of people a day. That constant activity, instead of waiting around to close a deal, is what’s going to keep your sales pipeline thriving, and it’s what’s going to keep your sales team grounded when the going gets tough — and it will get tough. However, implementing these simple insights will make selling much easier and enjoyable for all parties.


Making personal connections to your team’s work is the fuel they need to succeed. Rather than solely focusing on what they can do for the company, find out what drives them personally. Figure out the “why.”

“A sales manager needs to take the time to discover what motivates each individual salesperson,” said JPM Sales Partner CEO Jessica Magoch, who has been training and leading startup sales teams for 15 years. “To truly inspire means to light the flame within.”

One approach, she said, would be to have a lunch meeting with each new hire, and then quarterly thereafter, and ask them what their personal and professional goals are. “Get them to think beyond money, because money is a short-term motivator,” Magoch said.

When the salesperson forgets his or her own motivation, she said, it’s the leader’s responsibility to remind them. And knowing what motivates the salesperson will allow the leader to know where that salesperson would likely thrive when it comes to targeting potential customers, which will maximize conversion rates.


Your sales team needs to be comfortable with what they’re selling. This means allocating a generous amount of time to training, rather than rushing them into making sales.

They should fully understand your mission and goals. This will put them more at ease when engaging with potential customers and allow them to integrate the product naturally into conversations with everyone they encounter, inside and outside of work. That “flow” will reflect their expertise, which is always appealing.

“When sales managers maximize the time they spend coaching their teams versus others activities, they are more likely to produce top performers,” said Mike Schultz, co-president of RAIN Group Center for Sales Research.

The RAIN Group studied 472 sellers and executives representing sales forces with 10 to more than 5,000 people, and asked whether the culture drives and supports sellers’ motivation to succeed. When sales training was “very” or “extremely effective,” 80% said yes.

Besides effective training and being informed about your company, your team should be in the know, at all times, about where they stand in the company, how they’re doing and where they’re headed. Drew Stevens, who has 32 years of sales coaching experience, suggested creating spreadsheets or sharing data on interoffice whiteboards so that all members can understand their individual roles and where each is situated in the sales chain.

This community will help them make sense of everything they do and allow them to move forward confidently.


Whether it’s bonuses, professional development or simple recognition, your sales team should always be on a high — or have something to look forward to receiving for their efforts.

“Be a crack dealer,” said Darren Tamayo of HealthHero, a wellness and engagement company.

“People choose to do drugs despite the known consequences because the results are positive (at least in the short term), certain and immediate,” Tamayo said. “If you can give your people positive, certain and immediate rewards or recognition for certain behaviors or accomplishments, they're going to repeat them.”

These constant incentives will also give salespeople the drive to move quickly along the pipeline, because too many prospects — attention spread too thin — can backfire when it comes to closing deals.

In addition, Tamayo believes there’s tons of value in having the entire community supporting one another’s growth. He said he uses Pipedrive to monitor his team’s successes and gives open recognition via Slack, a real-time messaging service, for every demo booked, every deal signed, etc.

“Pipedrive has the simplest, most effective reporting I've seen,” he said. “It easily allows us to see who's trending up or down so we can correct some bad habits before it's too late and our salespeople find themselves in quicksand.”

On the other hand, rather than penalizing your sales team for not meeting a goal, it’s not a bad idea to celebrate the bad times every now and then — rejections and all.

Jim Herst, a business coach, said sales managers who help their salespeople overcome fear of failure and rejection has been deemed the most helpful. Showing your sales team how to react creatively when facing negative feedback serves to overcome assaults on the ego and the desire to avoid or retreat, he said.

Don’t be quick to assume an individual is a poor worker simply because he or she isn’t meeting your monetary sales expectations. They may just need a little more attention to their personal needs, more insight on what they need to do and constant reminders that they are more than just numbers.

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