How to motivate your sales team

sales team motivation
The following article has been provided by guest author Gary Delbridge from Objective Assessment.  Objective Assessment partner with organisations that are committed to growing their sales capability and demanding greater performance from their sales teams. You can find out more about the services they offer here or on (+61) 07 3620 3000.


For the past few years I’ve been working with sales organisations throughout the UK & Australia on dramatically improving sales performance.  While this is never an easy task for companies, it is made more challenging when your over-riding objective is to deliver outstanding sales performance while working with the existing teams.  It’s not as though we could eliminate the underperformers on the existing teams and replace them with Top-Gun salespeople….no, the task is always to build the performance and capabilities of the existing team members to enable them to deliver the outstanding results required.

The question I had to answer was, how do I motivate these salespeople to deliver outstanding performance, well above anything they have delivered in the past?

It’s important to note that motivation can be either positive or negative; carrot or stick.  People can be motivated by achieving a personal goal or receiving recognition and praise or they can be motivated to avoid pain or consequences.  Both are effective and are a part of every managers tool box.  The key to success is how you use these tools while maintaining the confidence, support and respect of the sales team.  Here are the rules that I follow when motivating a team to deliver outstanding results.


1. Courageous Leadership


Leadership is about guiding people to contribute in the workplace as much as their potential promises.  Courageous Leaders do this by influencing people to come up with their own solutions and solve their own problems.  Courageous Leadership involves the 3 drivers of high performance:

  • Accountability (Role Clarity)
  • Motivation (Will)
  • Capability (Skills)

Motivation and high performance comes from having absolute clarity on what is expected within a role, ensuring that they have the skills necessary to be successful in that role and aligning personal objectives with those of the business.

While having absolute role clarity provides you with the tools you need to hold people accountable, motivation is a more complex task altogether.  It’s vital that you understand that what motivates a person can also become a demotivator if not used effectively.  For instance, Money!


2. Money as a Motivator


While money is important to most people, and we would all like to earn more money, most of us are not prepared to do anything differently to earn more money.  When using money to drive the performance of the sales team, there must be transparency and simplicity.  Complex sales remuneration plans create conflict, misunderstandings and disagreements.  Make your sales performance plans simple, easy to understand and directly related to the performance of the individual and/or the team over and above base level performance.  Salespeople should only be rewarded for overperformance not simply hitting their target which is what you pay them for in the first place.

Sales Remuneration will only motivate if it is seen as fair and equitable.  If a salesperson thinks that they are getting less for their performance than other team members, money very quickly becomes a demotivator.

Link rewards to hitting specific milestones and pay them on a regular basis rather than at year end.  The salesperson needs to rely on their bonus to maintain or grow their lifestyle if it is to be truly motivational.


3. Personal Goals


You can motivate someone if you know what their personal goals are, what those goals mean to them, and how you can help them achieve these goals.  One of the most effective tools for a sales manager is having a conversation about goals and getting all their sales team to establish a number of personal, meaningful goal with timeframes attached to achieving them.  This can then be used to drive your accountability conversations and paint a picture for the salesperson of what they need to do to achieve those goals in the shortest possible timeframe.

Striving for Personal Goals drives sales performance.


4. Coaching


While there are many factors that can influence motivation, the final important motivator for salespeople is effective coaching.  As a sales leader, your task is to build the capabilities of your sales team.  When you spend your time coaching your salespeople, you are showing them that you care about their success and that you are willing to devote your time to help them achieve their full potential.  In return you will find that they will want to reward your commitment to them by showing that they were worth it.  They will do the hard things that they may not have chosen to do on their own and endeavour to outperform even your expectations for them.  If you commit your time to them, they will show their appreciation.




Motivation of a sales team is directly related to how committed you are as a sales leader; how much time and effort you’re willing to put into your team and how effective you are at coaching your team and bringing out the best in them.  Remember that people want to succeed and thrive on recognition of a job well done; this motivates them to strive for even greater goals.  If you want to harness this potential, commit your time to providing your team with Role Clarity, focus on the personal goals that are important to them and provide them with the skills and capabilities necessary to be able to achieve their goals.  This will result in a highly motivated, high performance sales team.

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