Motivation in sales: Why you must encourage your sales team

Have you stopped to review your sales team’s productivity and performance? Watch closely and you may find your team lacks motivation which is leading to poor performance. 

Salespeople need motivation to achieve their goals, serve clients well, and succeed in sales. However, they can lose their motivation due to a number of factors, such as stress. It is up to you, as the manager, to resolve this problem as motivation must be nurtured in every salesperson.

Ready to understand the importance of motivation and its positive effects on sales teams? Let’s go!

The importance of motivation in sales

A company’s revenues are earned through sales. And sales can be increased by motivating employees.

Given this relationship, motivation is an essential element for the growth of any organization. 

Despite the fact that sales is the foundation of a business, it’s common to see unmotivated and unengaged teams that fail to meet their goals and perform poorly.

But why does this happen? It happens because the average salesperson is stressed and constantly facing obstacles and rejections. Over time, these factors lead to reduced performance and sales.

So, how do you keep your team motivated? There are a number of tips that can help, as we’ll explore below.

However, one issue that must be taken into consideration is the individual salesperson’s personality. Each person has a specific way of being, which means that what motivates one individual won’t have the same effect on another individual. Therefore, you must understand what drives each salesperson, professionally and personally..

What to expect from a motivated salesperson

As stated above, motivation is linked to productivity. Besides increased productivity, here’s what you can also expect from a motivated salesperson:

  • Intensity: They will strive harder to hit their goals.
  • Focus: Increased intensity alone doesn’t improve productivity. They will also focus on the activities and deals that will move the needle.
  • Persistence: They will remain persistent, tackling each day with the same level of energy and enthusiasm. 

According to the expectancy theory, an employee’s efforts will increase if they believe they’ll receive a reward. In turn, their increased efforts will benefit the business.

A salesperson will always measure the potential reward in relation to their goals. If the rewards and goals are aligned, this will produce high-intensity, well-directed, and persistent effort.

9 tips to keep sales people motivated

To reiterate, there’s no one-size-fits-all rule for motivating your team. Each case must be analyzed separately so that each salesperson feels committed and energized.

It’s also important to emphasize that motivation is personal and must start from the individual. The role of the manager is to create the conditions necessary for employees’ motivation to flourish. 

Here are the 9 tips that will help your team stay motivated, thereby increasing your company’s productivity and boosting revenue.

1. Treat salespeople in a humane way

A fairly common mistake managers make is treating salespeople like robots. This mistake greatly undermines productivity and quality.

Treat salespeople in a humane way and show that your company cares about them. A more personal relationship breaks down barriers in the work environment and increases well-being among team members.

2. Recognize employees’ commitment

Financial reward, in the form of bonuses and prizes, is one type of recognition, but it isn’t the only one. Recognizing and thanking salespeople for their commitment is an important way to demonstrate pride in their personal achievements and victories.

Personal recognition is a weapon against demotivation, because it shows you care about more than results; you also care about your employees’ happiness and quality of life.

3. Provide feedback

Feedback is mandatory for any company that wants to grow sustainably. In the case of a sales team, feedback helps outline goals and how the sales team can achieve them.

Additionally, feedback allows you to go over each employee’s strengths and weaknesses, indicating the areas they still need to improve.

It’s worth emphasizing that feedback isn’t intended solely to criticize, but rather to help develop an employee’s personal and professional skills.

4. Provide the necessary resources

A job can only be executed well if the company provides all the necessary resources. For example, in the case of salespeople, CRM software can be the key between a successful sale and an unsuccessful one.

Therefore, it is important that you provide the necessary resources, even if it means going to the higher-ups when your team lacks critical resources.

5. Consider the need for personal fulfillment

Everyone has personal desires and desires. When they aren’t aligned with an organization’s goals, the outcome can be negative.

Although personal fulfillment is somewhat difficult to manage, you should be sensitive enough to identify such issues and motivate each of your salespeople to the best of your abilities.

For example, if one of your sales reps wants to make money to travel more, you can point out how they can improve in order to reach their goal.

6. Offer good pay, benefits, and commission

All of the above tips can help motivate employees, but if you don’t offer a good salary with attractive benefits and commissions, these tips won’t work!

The commission structure should directly link effort to reward. If the link is unclear because the rewards are too low, commission won’t motivate your team.

Benefits are also attractive and can be equally, if not more important, than commission for some sales reps. It’s worth offering medical insurance, 401(k) matching, and paid leave among other benefits. 

7. Encourage professional development

Providing training to foster consistent development is one of the best ways to ensure motivation.

Your sales team might want more training on stress management, sales techniques, quality of life, increasing productivity, family management, and more.

Webinars and workshops are great resources, as well as timely training on new products and features offered by your company. Relevant training can help nip a lack of motivation in the bud. 

8. Provide your team with confidence

Salespeople who don’t trust the company and the products they sell are automatically unmotivated employees. Motivation can’t exist without credibility. 

If you make promises to employees, keep those promises. And if it’s not possible to fulfill those promises, explain. An authentic and transparent approach is always better and will protect the credibility of your company in the eyes of employees.

9. Set achievable goals

Have you stopped to think if the goals you set are achievable? Whenever impossible goals are set, the complaints will roll in.

And your sales team is right to note how impossible the goals are. Setting an unreachable goal is stressful and demotivating to your team, as well as harmful to the company itself, which eventually will believe that the problem lies with the sales team.

The ideal is to set goals that aren’t too easy or too difficult. Goals should be a stretch but still achievable. 

In order to accomplish this, analyze the sales data and use those insights to define an achievable goal.

What demotivates employees

You don’t always have to know what to do, but rather know what not to do. This can help you figure out what demotivates your employees.

So far, you’ve seen how important ongoing motivation is and what you need to do to encourage the whole team. However, it is also important to identify elements that discourage your team.

In the article, “How to Really Motivate Salespeople”, Harvard Business School professor Doug J. Chung reviews a number of studies and experiments that demonstrate that commonly practiced sales remuneration methods aren’t successful.

Some of these practices are setting a ceiling for commissions and ratcheting quotas, or raising the annual quota for salespeople who have surpassed it in the previous year. In the first case, salespeople don’t feel motivated to truly excel. In the second, top-achieving salespeople feel they are punished for their success.

While compensation is one element that can discourage sales people, here are five more factors that lead to a demotivated sales team.

1. Lack of trust in the manager

This is especially the case when a new sales manager is hired or demonstrates that they don’t understand the business. In addition, personality incompatibilities and personal problems can affect morale.

2. Poor working conditions

When the structure of the team is unclear and leadership doesn’t exist or isn’t evident, the result is disorganization, which turns into frustration. It’s important to clearly define the sales team’s goals, the functions of each salesperson, and the company’s expectations for them.

3. Job mismatch

Some companies give salespeople work that doesn’t match their strengths and this can cause demotivation. For example, reviewing billing activities, filling in reports, and similar administrative work can be a mismatch for salespeople, who thrive on interpersonal interaction. 

4. Lack of recognition

For some salespeople, money is the most important motivator. But this isn’t true for every salesperson. For some sales reps, money is a short-term motivator. Instead, they crave recognition. While it doesn’t cost anything to give a compliment, it can make a world of difference to the recipient.

5. Lack of confidence in the product or service sold

A salesperson performs better if they trust the product or service they’re selling and believe that they can help the customer. If the salesperson wouldn’t buy their own product, they’ll struggle to convince a potential customer to buy it.

At this point, you should have a better understanding of how sales motivation involves a number of factors, such as compensation, recognition, and even individual sales rep’s personal goals and issues. The next step is applying the above tips and making your sales team more motivated!

To learn more about motivating salespeople, read Competition between salespeople: Helpful or harmful?