How to Motivate a Sales Team to Keep Them Happy & Engaged

Shawn Russell
Shawn Russell

Motivated sales team collaborating during a presentation

Sales is a difficult job. I’m sure every generation felt this way, but in today’s world of sophisticated SPAM blockers and other barriers, it seems harder than it ever was before. It takes a certain kind of drive and dedication to be able to prospect day after day and hear “No,” or probably even more common, hear nothing at all. While the core motivation of a sales person certainly needs to come from within themselves, sales leadership can and should come alongside our sales team and help spark that motivation to help them be as successful as possible.

There are many ways to motivate your sales team—here are few ideas to get you started.

Reward the Steps to the Sale

Simply getting a live person to actually have a conversation with you is like mining for gold these days. Gone are the days of calling a company’s main line and having a receptionist or directory connect you to your party. Same goes with email; avoiding SPAM filters is a tricky business. But all that being said, these tried and true prospecting techniques are still an important part of a sales rep’s outreach. And with all the walls being put up in front of them, it takes repetition and a disciplined cadence to move the needle. Many times the reward for sales reps comes at the end with the actual sale (still important!), but getting them there is half the battle.

Setting goals and rewards for steps to the sale can give your team the motivation they need to get to the next call, meeting, email—whatever it may be. Remembering no two people are motivated the same way, some more intrinsically (autonomy, purpose, belonging, etc.) and others more extrinsically (awards, peer recognition, etc.), it is important to understand the make-up of your sales team and consider a blend of recognition and rewards. Goals can be daily, weekly or monthly, and the reward should match the effort.

Related: Hear about the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and how your approach can be the difference between an individual’s short- and long-term motivation.

Celebrate the Wins

By nature, most sales reps are highly competitive and thus, enjoy winning! Sharing individual team member’s success with everyone is a win/win for a few reasons:

  1. People enjoy being celebrated and can thrive from the public recognition. It’s a powerful thing to be the cause of celebration among your peers. Dan Ariely, social scientist and New York Times bestselling author, found that lack of acknowledgment of a job well done, and more importantly, downright dismissing a person’s work, has a crushing effect on workers. His study concluded that, “When we are acknowledged for our work, we are willing to work harder for less pay, and when we are not acknowledged, we lose much of our motivation.”
  2. It spurs healthy competition! People want to be acknowledged for their effort, so when they see others receiving accolades they want, they in turn will work harder to meet those goals. Not only are you rewarding the team members who are having success, you are inspiring others to work harder to meet their goals!
  3. You’re sharing knowledge of what works. Sales reps are always on the look-out for what has been successful in the past. By sharing wins, the sales team can hear the story of what that particular team member did to get to that win. This will help arm your full sales teams with strategies that have proven to lead to success.

Communicate Clearly

As someone in a leadership position, you already know how important it is to keep your team motivated. After all, motivation boosts productivity, workplace morale and helps to reduce turnover. That's a win-win(-win) if you ask me.

But none of what we talked about above will make a lick of difference if you aren’t communicating effectively.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” —George Bernard Shaw

Clear communication is one of the most overlooked ways to motivate your team. Effective communication will help your sales team feel more empowered. It also gives them a sense of belonging, camaraderie and shared responsibility.

So, what’s the best way of reaching your team? Well, there isn’t one way. It’s a combination.

A mixed-media approach—social media, email, print communication and more—reaches every generation of your sales team. Clear, consistent and targeted communication is the cornerstone of your sales team engagement, especially in the context of reinforcing and rewarding them for successful behaviors. Skimp on the communication and you’re sure to create confusion and undermine success.

Coaching is another great technique that utilizes continuous feedback so your team members can be successful in what they do. We break down three ways you can empower your sales reps with coaching in our blog, Sales Coaching Strategies That Empower Your People to Make the Sale.

Shawn Russell

Shawn Russell

Shawn Russell is a results-driven marketing and communications professional with a proven record of accomplishment in developing and leading comprehensive marketing strategies to attain business goals and objectives. She’s excited about exceeding expectations, building advocacy and driving business—but she’s just as passionate about being a soccer mom and baking.