How to Inspire Your Sales Team at Work

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Little Red Book of Selling and King of Sales, once said: “Value the relationship more than the quota.”

He talked about the prospect-salesperson relationship here but he might as well have talked about the relationship between the sales manager and his team. Your team will have a hard time achieving goals if you do not have a solid relationship with them. And, this relationship starts with motivating your sales team.

Motivating A Sales Team

Regardless of how amazing or cheap your product is, you won’t reach your market without the push of a motivated sales team. And, having a great sales team is never just about hiring the right people.

A variety of factors come into play. Their life goals, personal lives, emotional and intellectual capacities, and attitudes all have bearing on how they go about their work. Would they be moved enough to be the superstar salesperson that they are? Or, will they slide into lackluster performance?

This is where your sales team motivation comes in. People are motivated differently, and it’s up to you to put together the right mix of tangible and non-tangible rewards.

Sales Team Motivation 1: Money

Money, as a motivator, works – most of the time. After all, success in a sales team is measured by the amount that you bring in. Earning monetary rewards because of this follows.

Your commission scheme is basic and, as is, it can be a driving force for your team. The key is to put together an effective commission structure. Motivate your team to go after long-term accounts by rewarding repeat sales. Encourage them to make an effort to reach out to big clients by giving them a bigger slice of the commission pie.

Of course, there are other parameters to consider when it comes to doling out monetary rewards. For instance, you can count the number of units sold, money value, or accounts opened. Or, you can also count the number of no’s received. (And yes, you read that right.)

Fuelzee CEO and founder, Dan McGraw, says that his company tracks and rewards those who lead in the number of no’s. While this sounds crazy, it is a strategy that actually adopts a famous quote from American salesman, author and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar: “The top salesperson in the organization probably missed more sales than 90% of the sales people on the team, but they also made more calls than the others made.”

In the case of Fuelzee, McGraw says: “Every time someone got a no, we tracked it in our system, and the person with the most no’s received a $100 gift card every week…. The more no’s you get, the closer you are to getting a yes. The prize of getting a yes is way larger than $100, so you still wanted to get there. This nearly doubled our outbound calls and motivated the whole team.”

Remember that one business’ approach might not work for your business. Mix things up and see what’s best for you.

Also, consider what Mark Palmer, executive coach and sales consultant, once said, “If compensation were a sufficient motivator, your people would already be performing.”

Sales Team Motivation 2: Gamification / Fun

According to Palmer, a unifying quality of top sales people is their need to be on top and win. This is perhaps one of the best reasons why gamification has been a popular means of motivating a sales team.

Friendly competition in the workplace can ignite your sales team’s need to win. Through leaderboards and the like, you publicly acknowledge top performers and encourage others to catch up. You inspire your sales team to level up and perform at par with the rest.

Of course, let’s not leave out fun in the equation. Your internal games, while bringing out the winner in everyone, should also encourage cooperation and improve workplace satisfaction.

Take the case of Rick Hanson, former vice president for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Security’s worldwide sales and field operations. Under his watch, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Security began to use FantasySalesTeam as a means to gamify sales. Like fantasy football teams, “players” work together and earn points for certain sales tasks.

Hanson says “Reps earn points for their FantasySalesTeam based on the performance of their chosen peers and friends, and this creates an environment of encouragement and pressure amongst the players….To win the game, they must rely and push on each other to perform. Even more exciting is just how many reps in our sales organization can, and want to, participate.”

Another way to infuse fun in the workplace has to do with your choice of reward. After all, money isn’t everything. You also have gadgets, trips, and gift checks, among a million other alternatives.

Kevin Baumgart, sales vice president of Hireology, also suggests: “You might not think that a pingpong table for the office would push people and drive behaviors…. Try it. From my experience, chair massagers, beanbag chairs, stand-up desk converters, cube art, etc. can all be motivational rewards as well.”

Sales Team Motivation 3: Work Environment and Career Development

Arguably, the ultimate reward from work is the opportunity to reach further and improve in your chosen career. This brings the limelight to the current environment and development programs in your workplace.

Is your work environment – co-workers, work ambience, attitudes and management – motivating enough for your potential sales superstars? Or, is being around the office a burden more than anything else? Are you communicating opportunities to grow within your organization? Are you encouraging your team to look into the future and set goals for themselves?

Creating the best work environment starts when you put together your team. Give value to potential and attitude. Instill and give incentive to cooperation, mentorship and support. At the same time, provide learning opportunities.

A great example here is a suggestion of Your Sales MBA founder and educator, Jeff Hoffman. He says: “Try a sales contest where the prize or a midway bonus is you…. Work for the leading rep for a few hours, doing whatever they direct you to — calls, demos, presentations, etc. Not only does this motivate your team; it also shows you aren’t afraid to roll up your sleeves and get in the trenches…. The whole team will see you leading by example, creating an inspirational ripple effect.”

A Final Word on Motivating Your Sales Team

At the core of an effective and efficient sales team is having a sturdy foundation for everything they can achieve. It starts with putting together the best team, people who can work together and push each other to move forward. It is helped by implementing systems, software and processes that make focusing on actual sales easier. It is pushed even further through the right work environment, sales team motivation and incentives.

Be consistent in your efforts. Motivating your sales team is daily work that reaps long-term benefits.


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Dan Sincavage

Dan Sincavage

Dan is a Co-Founder of Tenfold and currently serves as the Chief Strategy Officer. Dan oversees the Tenfold sales organization, manages strategic partner relationships and works with key enterprise accounts to ensure their success with the Tenfold platform.

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