Sales team is the driving force of every company. Yet, sales professionals are also the ones with the highest rate of staff turnover. Below are some practical tips on motivating your sales team and alleviating work-related stress.
Before we proceed, an important question to ask is why would you need some additional motivation for your sales reps in the first place? Aren’t regular performance assessments and financial rewards enough?
The awkward truth is – traditional motivation techniques are not working. According to social scientists, to make a person feel truly driven to pursue a goal, you have to trigger intrinsic motivators apart from extrinsic ones. In his TED talk “The puzzle of motivation”, career analyst Dan Pink reveals that external incentives only work with the most routine and the least creative
tasks. The new approach should trigger three basic human needs: autonomy, mastery, and a sense of purpose.

Now, let’s see how this translates to a practical level.

Using Intrinsic Motivators to Motivate Your Sales Team

– Avoid micromanagement

«Never tell people how to do things; tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their integrity» — George S. Patton had described the best way to foster autonomy. If your organization has a set of regulations – for example, sales reps may have to stick to certain transcripts as they communicate with leads, pick at least one thing they can choose for themselves, like flexible hours or workplace location. This will make them feel they are in control of at least one important aspect of their work.
– Ask how they would like to receive feedback
Regardless of how qualified and successful they are – everyone needs feedback. A good idea would be to ask your direct reports how they would like to receive it – verbally or by e-mail, in public or in person, and how frequently. By making them reflect on which management style suits them best you’re triggering one of the intrinsic motivators – the need for autonomy.
– Encourage creative input
Ask your sales reps to reflect on how your team could achieve better results and to share their ideas. Set up a tradition of having regular brainstorms– you’ll be surprised how much insights you will get. Do give them reasons why some ideas can’t be implemented now. This will make them feel valued, respected, and will meet their need for autonomy and mastery.
– Foster professional growth
Speaking of mastery, one tangible extrinsic motivator which also works on intrinsic level, is professional coaching. The best thing you could do is offer your top performers coaching by internal sales leaders. Perfecting their set of professional skills will give them the sense of advancement and security.
– Recognize their value
This isn’t only saying “You’ve done a great job”; but showing your team how their work helps advance a company mission. As a sales manager there’s only so much you can do to trigger your sales reps intrinsic need for purpose; ideally, the question how their personal goals align with the company mission should be asked at a job interview stage. What you can do is show your team that their work matters on a company level. On top of that, there are some motivational aspects that play an important part. Namely:

Team-building

It takes a lot of internal resilience to withstand external pressure. Sales are a competitive job, but apart from encouraging competition, one more way to perform better as a team is to nurture cooperative relationships between co-workers. Warm and supportive internal environment helps to alleviate stress.
– Physical and emotional health
Are they getting enough sleep? Do they need extra vacation – or when actually was the last time they’ve taken one? In a job as engaging as sales, they may hardly sense they are fatigued or emotionally drained. If any of your direct reports seems too depressed or too agitated, it’s an alarming sign to watch out for. Ask them if they need a day off to see a physician or get psychological help.
– Workplace comfort
It may seem petty and obvious, but it’s not only about office feng-shui. It’s also about organizing smooth and non-disruptive workflow on a technological level. Make sure to reduce routine and annoying tasks to a minimum, so that your sales reps could concentrate on their main objectives.
The time has come to finally ditch the outdated mechanistic approach and start motivating sales professionals on a personal level. Regardless which motivators you’re triggering, an important thing to remember is that security, recognition and warm interpersonal relationships always make for high job satisfaction levels.