How to Motivate Your Sales Team: 9 Tried-and-True Strategies (2022)

Motivation is more than Vince Lombardi quotes and quirky posters on the wall. It’s one of the most important components of sustained sales success over time.

How to Motivate Your Sales Team: 9 Tried-and-True Strategies (1)

As a sales manager or director, you can only influence your team’s sales performance in two dimensions: Their skill set (what they can do) and their motivation (how repeatedly or passionately they do it).

Improving your team’s skill set is a largely objective process. By evaluating current performance metrics and comparing them to a successful end state, you can diagnose what areas need improvement and act accordingly.

But motivation is far harder. Not only are there are many external factors that affect motivation, every person requires different incentives and motivational tactics. In my decades as a sales leader, I’ve used the following strategies to successfully motivate my team and drive motivation through the roof.

Strategies to Motivate Your Sales Team

  1. Build trust with the people on your team.
  2. Ask your direct reports how they like to be managed.
  3. Understand your direct reports' personal and professional goals.
  4. Make sure they're covering the basics.
  5. Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals.
  6. Figure out where the issue lies.
  7. Let people pick their own rewards.
  8. Give great rewards.
  9. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

1. Build trust with the people on your team.

The foundation of motivation is trust. If your team doesn’t trust you and doesn’t believe you have their best interests at heart, it’ll be difficult for them to feel inspired and driven by their work. When salespeople are unmotivated, you won’t be able to re-inspire them unless you have an open and honest conversation about their challenges and goals -- something that simply won’t happen without trust. It’s a vicious -- or virtuous -- cycle.

Managers have to create trust and then maintain it by engaging with their team in a consistent, nurturing fashion. The best way to build trust is to be completely transparent. Simply discussing trust can be a great way of starting off on the right foot.

In my 30-year career, I’ve used one simple soundbite to kick off this conversation. It might seem like a squishy question, but it’s never failed to work. I simply say, “Julia, I want to make sure we are in a trusting relationship. How can we build trust between us?”

It’s pretty direct and it’s a great way to explain to the team that I am interested in working on a business relationship, rather than being their boss.

2. Ask your direct reports how they like to be managed.

I always tell new team members three important things:

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  1. Everybody’s personality is different.
  2. I want to be an effective manager for your work style and personality.
  3. I can modify my behavior to fit your needs. How do you want to be managed?

Just as different prospects will require different selling styles and effective salespeople understand how to adapt to those styles, effective managers understand that the best way to get results out of their team is to fit into their reports’ worlds, instead of forcing one method of communication or strategy on everyone else.

Here are some questions I ask my direct reports to help them figure out what their work style is like:

  1. What is the pace of interaction that you prefer? Do you want to meet with me once a week, every other week, or multiple times a week?
  2. How do you want me to give you feedback?
  3. Do you prefer public or private praise and feedback?
  4. What type of feedback do you prefer?
  5. If I hear something amiss, do you want me to tell you, email you, wait until our one-on-one, or something else?
  6. If something I do gets on your nerves, will you let me know?

3. Understand your direct reports’ personal and professional goals.

You can’t motivate someone unless you know what drives them. Understand what your direct reports each want to accomplish in their personal and professional lives. This will not only show you the type of person they are, but also give you insight into what things will motivate them the most.

Once you understand their goals, ask them the following questions:

  1. Are you motivated right now?
  2. What motivates you long term?
  3. What can you do to motivate yourself?
  4. How will I know if you are not motivated?
  5. What do you want me to do if you don’t appear motivated?

Even if it seems obvious, you always need to ask. If they can’t tell you the answers to these questions, give them 48 hours to figure it out. Forcing your reps to be self-reflective makes it more likely they’ll give you thoughtful answers, which will be better for you both in the long run.

4. Make sure they’re covering the basics.

A salesperson’s motivation always suffers when they’re not taking care of themselves. Your team’s results are influenced by -- may even depend on -- consistent sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet.

Robert Yao, the founder and CEO of EpiFinder, so strongly believes in this idea he’s created a “Robert Yao Hierarchy of Needs.” Whenever someone on his team seems disengaged or demotivated, he shows them the pyramid and asks, “What do you need more of?”

If they point to “food,” he’ll buy them lunch. If they point to “sleep,” he’ll tell them to take a nap. If they point to “exercise,” he’ll say, “Go for a walk.”

While you don’t have to take things this far, stressing the importance of a balanced lifestyle will make a sustained difference on your salespeople’s motivation levels.

At HubSpot, we offer employees access to a gym, plenty of healthy food and snacks, and a nap room.

5. Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals.

Different salespeople are motivated in different ways. Some people are motivated by team-wide sales contests. Some are driven by quota achievement. Some are motivated by qualitative improvements. Some people are motivated by their impact on the organization. Some people are motivated by money.

Here’s how you should think about each type of goal and SPIF (sales performance incentive fund):

  • Daily: This is a very short-term goal designed to break a rep out of their funk. The SPIF should be something fun but lightweight, since the rep isn’t doing that much to earn it.
  • Weekly: This is a more tangible goal with defined business impact. Set metrics for improvement, then work with your reps on a plan to applying the necessary skills on a daily basis to achieve this goal. This should be a slightly more involved reward such as a round of golf that will influence meaningful results.
  • Monthly: The largest of the three goals, monthly goals are accompanied by higher-value rewards based on extraordinary performance. I prefer not to give cash, because once you spend it, it’s gone. Instead, I’ve given physical SPIFs like speakers and TV sets. Every time your rep looks at that item, they’ll remember the process they went through to earn it.

6. Figure out where the issue lies.

There are two main aspects of motivation every sales manager must handle: Individual motivation, and group-wide motivation.

Before you do anything to boost motivation, ask yourself, “How many people seem like their spirits are flagging?”

If the answer is “just one or two,” you’re dealing with outliers. If that number is three or more, there’s a problem with the entire team.

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7. Let people pick their own rewards.

Salespeople always do a great job choosing prizes -- after all, they have the most insight into what they want! Plus, this makes your job easier.

I use a three-step process to getting people to design their own sales contest.

First, I ask them if they need motivation. I’ll say, “How do you feel? Do you need a kick in the pants?”

They’ll either say yes -- in which case I’ll move to the next step -- or “No, we’re fine.” If it’s the latter, I’ll say, “It doesn’t sound like you’re motivated today, but if you can hit [activity or monetary goal] without an extra boost, that works for me.” The team will always respond, “No, no, Tyre, we need the motivation.”

Then I’ll ask, “Okay, what do you think the objective should be?”

After they’ve decided on a target, I’ll ask them to pick a timeframe.

Lastly, I’ll ask, “What reward do you want [within X budget]?”

This strategy is straightforward yet highly effective. My reps love it.

8. Give great rewards.

Sometimes, you may need to give your salespeople some inspiration. Here are my favorite personal SPIFs to suggest:

  • Prospect for them
  • Buy them (and maybe a few friends) lunch or dinner
  • Cook them lunch or dinner
  • Clean their house (or hire a company to clean it for them)
  • Babysit their kids
  • Walk their dog
  • Wash their car
  • Give them the full day off

Unlike a traditional cash prize, these rewards are motivating to the entire team. Everyone will be rooting for the individual rep -- because who doesn’t want to see their manager cooking their coworker dinner?

When you’re offering a team-wide SPIF, use these ideas:

  • Take everyone out to the movies in the middle of the day
  • Go bowling
  • Attend a sports game
  • Throw a pool party or BBQ
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen or local philanthropic organization (great for bonding)
  • Play paintball or dodgeball
  • Visit a go-cart facility

And when you want to truly rally your salespeople and show how committed you are, get a little wacky.

  • Dress like a taco
  • Shave your beard or head
  • Grow your mustache
  • Go in a dunk tank
  • Sing at karaoke
  • Perform a dance
  • Pledge to give up coffee for a week
  • Eat your least favorite food for lunch
  • Wear a funny shirt to work

The goal: Do something playful and memorable.

Interestingly, sometimes the best SPIFs aren’t ones that seem to have any value at all to an outsider. I used to work with Don Bulens at Lotus, and we had a plastic doll we called the Tiny Little Baby Award. It got passed around to the best rep on a monthly basis and was displayed at the winner’s desk. People loved it -- the doll had no inherent value, but it was a way of recognizing people’s achievements, and reps cared more about the accomplishment of getting the baby than the baby itself.

9. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

As we previously established, trust is paramount to establishing a relationship with your team and getting their participation, buy-in, and motivation. In order to establish that trust, take a look at how you communicate with your team, both on an individual level and team-wide.

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You can easily conduct a stand-up meeting in the morning to get your reps' blood pumping, using your energy and enthusiasm to bring up the temperature in the room and start the day off right. You can also conduct one-on-one meetings to really get to know each team member on an individual level and help coach them toward their goals.

It also helps to have mini check-ins during the day, whether that's with a short motivational email or an encouraging word when they're not busy.

Touch points like these serve as external validation that can be a big motivating factor.

Examples of a Motivational Email to Sales Team

If you the next step to improve the level of your sales leadership is more touch points with your team, consider sending them a motivational email from time to time. This is an especially good tactic for remote sales environments where you might not get that face-to-face interaction between calls or at the water cooler. The goal is to acknowledge the hard work they're doing and encourage them to keep their energy up.

Sometimes, the times that your team needs encouragement the most is when their numbers are down. Your reps will be looking to you to provide leadership, which includes an action plan and rallying energy. Here's how you can do this in an email:

Motivational Email When Numbers Are Down

Good morning, team!

As you know, we've been trending X% below goal since [Date]. This is due in large part because of [challenge or problem]. Given these challenges, I'm proud of how we've performed so far. For example, [Provide an example of a win].

As our leadership team looks into solutions for the factors outside of our control, we can do [action plan] in the meantime.

Ebbs and flows happen, and it's up to us to see ourselves through the dip. This week, we'll be revisiting some of the fundamentals by [action plan] to shake things up and get some results.

Looking forward to approaching this puzzle with fresh eyes.

Keep up the good work,

[Name]

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How to Motivate Your Sales Team: 9 Tried-and-True Strategies (3)

At the same time, you might want to motivate your team to reach new highs even when sales are up. It's all to easy for reps to pull their foot off the gas when goals are being met and exceeded. However, it's actually good to help them lean into those headwinds. For example:

Motivational Email When Numbers Are Up

Congratulations, team!

I've just received word that we just hit [milestone], exceeding our targets by X%. Each one of you should feel proud for getting us to this stage. That's why I'm excited to announce [how the team is being rewarded for their performance].

In the meantime, let's continue to ride this wave. I encourage you all to stay focused and continue the great work you've been doing. We have momentum on our side, and we can take advantage of it to have a record-breaking quarter!

Keep up the good work,

[Name]

How to Motivate Your Sales Team: 9 Tried-and-True Strategies (4)

Ultimately, inspiring motivation is about finding the thing that makes your reps willing to go the extra mile. People who aren’t motivated won’t suddenly become top performers if you offer them $1,000 cash. Find the thing that makes your reps tick, and the ones who have the self-discipline and inner talent to work for a reward will shine.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in July 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

FAQs

How do you motivate your sales team when sales are down? ›

9 ways to give your sales team a morale boost
  1. Always recognize and reward good performance. ...
  2. Team solutions for team issues. ...
  3. Bring in the fun. ...
  4. Understand your team as individuals. ...
  5. Change their focus. ...
  6. Teach some new tricks. ...
  7. Take a look in the mirror. ...
  8. Use their powers for good.

What strategies you use to motivate your team? ›

Jump to section
  • Share your vision and set clear goals.
  • Communicate with your staff.
  • Encourage teamwork.
  • A healthy office environment.
  • Give positive feedback and reward your team.
  • Provide opportunities for development.
  • Give employees the space they need to thrive.

What is your motivation in doing sales? ›

While for some sales people, money and prestige and recognition are going to be their most motivating concepts. For many more, it's all about balancing time with their loved ones, making a difference in the world, learning new things, solving complex problems, and building lasting friendships with clients.

What are 3 strategies that you will use to stay motivated? ›

How can I stay motivated?
  • Regularly review your goals and progress. ...
  • Continue to set new goals. ...
  • Keep the momentum up. ...
  • Find mentors, for example, someone you look up to who is experienced in the habit you want to change. ...
  • Surround yourself with positive people.

How do you motivate and encourage team members? ›

Motivating your team: 25 ways to increase employee engagement
  1. Keep them connected to the company. ...
  2. Clearly define your expectations. ...
  3. Don't sugarcoat unpleasant projects. ...
  4. Be consistent. ...
  5. Set a good example. ...
  6. Ask for input. ...
  7. Show you care. ...
  8. Reward creativity.
24 Jan 2022

Why is it important to motivate the sales team? ›

Motivation is key because, without it, your sales teams won't be able to close deals or generate leads no matter how good the product is. Investing in a sales training program can play an important role in motivating your team by bolstering their knowledge and confidence.

What are the 10 strategies to encourage direct sales? ›

Direct selling is marketing a product directly to the consumer with no middleman involved.
...
Here are 10 Direct Selling Tips for Success:
  • BE A GOAL SETTER. ...
  • BE A LIST MAKER. ...
  • BE ENTHUSIASTIC. ...
  • RECOGNIZE THAT THE MAGIC WORD IN SALES IS “ASK”. ...
  • EXPECT NO'S. ...
  • SCHEDULE TIME WISELY.

What should motivate a sales person? ›

Recognition, approval, or a need to stand out from the crowd drives some salespeople. Whereas opportunity comes from internal recognition of achievements, visibility involves recognition from others. When a salesperson is motivated by visibility: Give lots of approval for even small accomplishments.

What are types of sales motivation? ›

In general, there are two different types of sales motivation–intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic sales motivation is when salespeople complete tasks because they are motivated by internal reasons, such as the feeling of accomplishment or satisfaction.

How do you manage a successful sales team? ›

12 Expert Tips For Managing a Successful Sales Team
  1. Be results oriented.
  2. Identify where you are versus what you need.
  3. Manage expectations.
  4. Hire coachable reps.
  5. Set high, but realistic goals.
  6. Incentivize your team.
  7. Make learning a priority.
  8. Use the volume versus value ratio.
6 Nov 2020

What motivates you the most Sample answer? ›

Success is what motivates me to do a good job. Knowing the fact that my hard work and perseverance will help me achieve greater professional success is what keeps me going. I feel that aligning the company's vision and values with my own is one way to achieve that.

What are the 7 types of motivation? ›

7 Most Important Types of Motivation | Business Management
  • Achievement Motivation:
  • Affiliation Motivation:
  • Competence Motivation:
  • Power Motivation:
  • Attitude Motivation:
  • Incentive Motivation:
  • Fear Motivation:

What are the 10 types of motivation? ›

Without further ado, let's take a look at the types of motivation.
  • Types of Motivation. ...
  • Achievement Motivation. ...
  • Creative Motivation. ...
  • Physiological Motivation. ...
  • Reward Motivation. ...
  • Fear Motivation. ...
  • Social/ Affiliation Motivation. ...
  • Competence Motivation.
28 Sept 2020

What is the most effective motivation strategy? ›

Praise and recognition

One of the simplest, yet most effective ways to motivate employees is to recognize them for their work and provide positive feedback. Recognizing employees for their efforts will communicate that these employees are valued and appreciated, and that their work doesn't go unnoticed.

How do you motivate strategies? ›

Motivational strategies
  1. Set clear goals. Include daily, weekly, semester, and long-term goals. ...
  2. Help yourself focus. ...
  3. Pace yourself. ...
  4. Prioritize. ...
  5. Location, location, location. ...
  6. Get enough sleep. ...
  7. Build a routine and healthy habits. ...
  8. Eat and drink healthily.

What are the three examples of motivation? ›

The 3 Types of Motivation
  • Extrinsic. Doing an activity to attain or avoid a separate outcome. Chances are, many of the things you do each day are extrinsically motivated. ...
  • Intrinsic. An internal drive for success or sense of purpose. ...
  • Family. Motivated by the desire to provide for your loved ones.
13 Jul 2017

What is the best motivation suggestion for sales managers? ›

Five Sales Team Motivation Essentials For Sales Managers
  • Build trust. The success of your sales team is highly dependent on the level of trust they have in you as their manager. ...
  • Offer rewards. Appreciation is an important motivator. ...
  • Gamification. ...
  • Outline short-term goals. ...
  • Provide a clear path for growth.

What are the 4 most common sales strategies? ›

The four basic sales strategies salespeople use are script-based selling, needs-satisfaction selling, consultative selling, and strategic-partner selling. Different strategies can be used with in different types of relationships.

How do you become a successful sales strategy? ›

10 Keys to Developing a Successful Sales Strategy
  1. Build a Powerful Value Proposition in Your Messaging. ...
  2. Create the Urgency to Change. ...
  3. Tell a Compelling and Memorable Story. ...
  4. Speak to the Customer Deciding Journey, Not Your Sales Process. ...
  5. Don't Rely on Buyer Personas in Your Sales Strategy.
22 Nov 2019

What are 4 general ways to increase sales? ›

Increase the number of customers. Increase the average transaction size. Increase the frequency of transactions per customer. Raise your prices.

What are the 3 top important tips for a salesperson? ›

Photos courtesy of the individual members.
  • Think Relationally. A salesperson needs to think relationally instead of transactionally, as selling is now a journey, not an action. ...
  • Always Add Value. Add value with every transaction. ...
  • Understand Prospects As Human Beings First.
23 Feb 2021

What are the top 5 motivators? ›

There are 5 consistencies when it comes to workplace motivators:
  1. Provide Meaningful and Challenging Work. ...
  2. Improve Employees' Lives. ...
  3. Recognition. ...
  4. Compensation & Benefits. ...
  5. Culture.

What makes sales team strong? ›

They must be well trained, passionate, positive, empathetic, with great listening skills, the ability to multitask, think on their feet, and provide quick solutions. The team must stay up-to-date with the latest sales trends and technology, so they can actively incorporate them into their jobs.

› The VipeCloud Blog ›

As a sales manager, it's important to keep your team motivated. Check out these 20 ways to boost your team's sales using sales motivation.

How do you stay positive when sales are down? ›

Eight helpful ways to stay positive in sales
  1. Designate time for mental well-being every day. ...
  2. A healthy body is a positive one. ...
  3. Don't treat yourself – Reward yourself. ...
  4. Be careful with the company you keep. ...
  5. Set realistic goals. ...
  6. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. ...
  7. Learn to accept the word 'no'
25 Jun 2020

How do you stay motivated when sales are slow? ›

Sales is all about positive energy.
...
Here are three ways to radiate positive energy on slow sales days:
  1. Stay mentally busy. The body feels tired, but it's really the brain. ...
  2. Grow. You see, growth stimulates the brain. ...
  3. Spend slow days setting appointments. Appointments get you looking forward with optimism.

How do you overcome sales decline? ›

Here are five expert-recommended ways to identify and fix your sales issues.
  1. Uncover the root cause. Before you try to increase sales, you have to understand what caused them to decline in the first place. ...
  2. Talk to your customers. ...
  3. Hire new sales people. ...
  4. Partner with other businesses. ...
  5. Take charge.
9 Dec 2019

How do you overcome a drop in sales? ›

Stop it Before it Happens: 8 Tactics to Avoid Declining Sales
  1. Understand Why Sales Slumps Happen. ...
  2. Create a Happier Workforce. ...
  3. Set Clear and Achievable Goals. ...
  4. Set Out Incentives. ...
  5. Invest in Training. ...
  6. Optimize Your Marketing Strategy. ...
  7. Re-evaluate Your Audience. ...
  8. Stay Positive.
11 May 2021

What is the number 1 rule in sales? ›

I learnt that the number one rule in sales is not to sell or not come out as trying to sell.

How do you finish a strong sales? ›

Finishing Strong: How to Ensure Your Q4 Sales End on a Positive...
  1. Know Where You Stand. ...
  2. Make a Plan. ...
  3. Create Strong Marketing Messages. ...
  4. Put Your Customer First. ...
  5. Encourage Customers to Come Back Often. ...
  6. Host Events That Bring Clients In.

How can I increase my sales mindset? ›

Here's how to cultivate a true sales mindset.
  1. Connect sales to your purpose. Every great salesperson is driven. ...
  2. Be genuine. Finding true fulfillment through sales will also help you be more genuine. ...
  3. Always be connecting. ...
  4. Create solutions. ...
  5. Know your X factor. ...
  6. Build resilience. ...
  7. Adopt empowering habits. ...
  8. Commit to CANI.

What are the three things needed to motivate your sales force? ›

They are:
  • Understanding what motivates an individual.
  • Developing skills and providing the effective tools necessary to succeed.
  • Establishing a collaborative environment that fosters engagement, teamwork, creativity, and innovation.

What causes poor sales performance? ›

Some common causes include a lack of product knowledge, poor customer service, and a lack of motivation. Additionally, poor sales performance can be caused by several factors beyond the control of the salesperson, such as economic conditions or competition from other businesses.

How do you explain why sales are down? ›

Some of them are as follows: 1 The company is using selling concept instead of marketing approach. 2 The company is not making any changes to its product. 3 More of substitutes are getting available in the market of the same product. There can be many reasons for decline in sales growth.

What are 4 general ways to increase sales? ›

Increase the number of customers. Increase the average transaction size. Increase the frequency of transactions per customer. Raise your prices.

What is the first thing you would do when sales are down? ›

The first thing to do when sales slow down is to troubleshoot what the REAL problem is. Inbound interest – Has the level of interest for the service you sell dried-up? For example, your service might be seasonal.

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