I’ve spent more time managing sales teams than any other activity in my long and varied career. When I first became a sales manager, I was a good salesperson but a crappy manager. Although I tried, I wasn’t effective at motivating salespeople. I managed people like projects; as if they were all the same, not understanding individuals are motivated in various ways. It shouldn’t have been difficult for me to understand because my motivators drastically changed in a short time. I went from a 19-year-old college student to a 20-year-old working father. What motivated me at 20 was different than what motivated me a year earlier.

10 Tips for Motivating Salespeople 

It’s not always about money. However, it may be. Salespeople, in general, are money motivated. Be careful, not every salesperson is as motivated by money as the next person. For example, as a new father, I was motivated by family time as much if not more than money.

Most Salespeople are competitive—to some degree. Some of the most successful sales campaigns I managed were challenges and contests, and often for nothing more than pride. Salespeople in general are competitive but once again be aware that the competitive spirit differs by individual. It’s not one size fits all.

Give recognition. Almost everyone likes to be recognized for their efforts, results, and character. One of the keys to effective recognition is learning how individual team members prefer to be recognized. Some want to be lauded in front of their peers, while others prefer private acknowledgment.

Be a coach. Help individual salespeople improve. Use observable behavior and objective criteria to pinpoint areas of needed improvement then provide the training to reach new levels.

Provide direction. Most people, including salespeople, don’t want to be totally on their own. They want a plan that will help them succeed. For example, don’t order a sales rep to get more leads this week, direct them to make two new customer calls per day and then send you a report on the results.

Believe in your product. It’s hard to sell an inferior product. It can be done and is…by con men. Give your sales team products they can proudly represent and back them up with superior service.

Meet market price points. When a competitor offers a similar quality product for less, you not only lose sales—you lose salespeople.

Provide support. The lack of administrative, customer service, and product installation support often forces sales people to fill those roles. This obviously detracts from sales time, but it’s also an attitude killer.

Manage but don’t micromanage. Give salespeople the training, direction, and support they need, and then give them the freedom to do their job.

One More Lesson

As I stated earlier, it took me a long time to learn these lessons. And here’s one more. Not everyone is motivated alike, and they shouldn’t be managed the same. Don’t make managing a sales team a project by expecting each and every salesperson to be motivated by the same things. They’re not. You have to get to know each person to learn what motivates them. If you’d like to discuss this leave me a comment or contact me. It’s a topic I’m fond of discussing. It motivates me.