Sales Solutions: What We Do
Sales Solutions: How We Do It
Sales Solutions: About Us
Sales Solutions: Events
Sales Solutions: What They're Saying
Sales Solutions: Links
Sales Solutions: In The News
Sales Solutions: Newsfeed
Sales Solutions: Contact Us
Sales Solutions: Home Page
Sales Solutions
Motivating and Inspiring Your Sales People vol 2, issue #11
June 15, 2004

More than in any other professionals, sales people need a constant stream of motivation (and its close cousin, inspiration) to help weather the constant stream of rejection, indifference, disinterest, delay, and, occasionally, disrespect, to which they're subject. Sure, out of necessity they develop a thick hide. But they're still human beings. And as such they need - and respond to - positive motivation and inspiration. These are just as necessary to the sales success mix as good leads, a competitive product, and a solid skill set and sales process. And the responsibility for making sure they're present, and in adequate supply, falls to you, the sales leader.

So how do you motivate your team? Well, you could go out and hire a "motivation guru" to spend a half a day having your team jump up and down while clapping their hands and screaming, "I am a winner!" over and over again to loud heavy metal rock music. Frankly, I don't think this will cut it (I know from first-hand experience - I actually suffered through this silly exercise myself many years ago!). A better way is to get to know each of your reps individually and find out what motivates each of them - what drives each, what makes each tick. In an earlier sales tip, we introduced the concept of "Motivational Triggers" as they applied to prospects. Well, sales people have motivational triggers too - those factors that are light their fire. Like prospects, each sales person is motivated by a different trigger. And contrary to what you might think, money is not the sole motivator for sales people. Don't believe it? Let me give you an example.

When I was managing a national sales force several years ago, I learned that my Philadelphia rep had "always been #1 - the top producer" throughout her career. And that's exactly what she was going to be here. Her motivation was competition with her peers. So whenever I felt she needed a little boost, I'd remind her that she was actually in second place, behind my guy in Atlanta. This, of course, got her goat, and she proceeded to do exactly what I wanted her to do - add another six quality names to her pipeline before the week was out. On the other hand, my Atlanta rep was motivated by independence. "I got into this field so no one would bother me - and that's how I want to operate with you here." OK! But upon further probing he also revealed to me (boasted, actually) that the reason he was #1 is that he read everything he could get his hands on about sales. So, with Chris I supplemented a hands-off approach with occasional emails of articles I'd found in the sales press, and recommendations of good books in my business library.

As you can see, real drivers for sales people are not limited to money. Other motivational triggers include:

  • A sense of pride and accomplishment
  • Serving customers
  • Belief in the importance and value of the work they do
  • Public recognition
  • Activities that bond them with their peers
  • Winning a sales contest
  • Material manifestations of success - awards, vacations

These are the elements which, when present, really fire up your salespeople, and get them to want to extend themselves. These are the levers you can pull to get them both out of a rut, and to push them to reach their full potential.


Get to know each member of your sales team - really know them. In your one-on-one pipeline reviews, when you're out in the field with them, casually weave indirect, leading questions into your conversations that get them to open up and reveal to you what motivates them. "So Jeff, what on earth got you into such a brutal profession as sales? Why have you stuck with it all these years?". Then just sit back and listen. Take these responses from each of your reps, and devise and execute a strategy for firing up each of them individually, and collectively as a team. When you start pressing all the right buttons for each of your reps, you'll quickly find that you have a team that will eagerly perform for you beyond your wildest dreams.

Good Selling!

Subscribe to The Sales Solution free monthly e-newsletter