Motivate Your Salespeople and Keep Them From Burning Out!

7 Ways to Increase Sales Team Motivation

I think it’s safe to assume that all sales managers and business owners dream of having a sales team that performs at their best, 100% of the time.

Unfortunately (0r – fortunately), salespeople aren’t mindless, automatic machines. They are human. Performances fluctuate according to their state of mind. Emotions are a factor in how well or how poorly they perform their job.

Hence, motivation is key to the success of any top performing sales team. It introduces positivity that reignites their inner fire and removes negativity that depletes their mental condition. However, it doesn’t always come as easy as giving a pat on the back or giving your salespeople a good laugh. Sustained team motivation and performance requires much more than that!

Getting that spike in motivation is just the beginning. Here are some of the best practices I’ve sourced from veterans and professionals in the field that has done just that.


1. Get Inside Their Head

Your salespeople are each unique individuals. They each act and react differently. They each think and understand the world differently. They perceive and experience life differently.

Naturally, a salesperson will have a preference over what type of motivation drives them to perform at their best. For this reason there is no blanket solution that effectively motivates everyone.

So how do you tailor your motivational strategies to match each of your salesperson’s preferences?

“Lead with questions and make it about them!” is the advice Brendan Alan Barrett gives. The more you learn about your salespeople and the more you’ll understand which  motivational tactics you can use to keep you team energized and performing at their best.

In a post for Hubspot Dan Tyre mentions he likes to leads with questions too…

“What are your current motivations?”
“What are your long-term motivations?”
“How do you motivate yourself”
“How can I motivate you?”
“How can I tell when you’re unmotivated?”

These are the questions Dan asks sales professionals when he wants to know what type of person they are while also, gaining an understanding of what motivates them as a sales professional.

Of course, if they can’t answer these questions for you on the spot, that’s alright. Especially with less experienced sales talent, it might be a good idea to give them some time to reflect. They’ll likely come back with better, more complete answers. The kind of answers and insights that will make your job as a sales leader a whole lot easier.


2. Have an Open Door Policy

Especially during prolong dips in performance, lending an ear can give you information on how you can motivate them and pull them out of their slump. It will also present new insights into motivational practices that will minimize similar situations in future.

In an interview with Donald C. Kelly, former psychotherapist and now sales coach Alan Allard talks about the psychological barriers preventing salespeople from performing at the top of their game. They range from having a low self-esteem to feeling unchallenged and uninspired to exceed past highs. These kinds of psychological barriers can be huge demotivators for your salespeople.

Sometimes hearing them out and giving members of your sales force the opportunity to vent – and not to their peers, which can cause other problems –  is all that’s needed. In more complicated situations  the honest dialogue that an open door policy allows for can help you unpack the problem and address it properly.  t

In another post I wrote, What to Do When Your Salesperson Won’t Prospect by Phone and I found this paragraph to be relevant and useful to this motivational tip:

“Zero in on each of the individual problems they bring up. You don’t want to assume the psychological challenges they face and cut them off from fully sharing their point of view. The overarching issue is psychological and hence, you want to respond and approach the problem in the same manner. Approach it more like you would a therapy session and less like a classroom lesson.” 


3. Be Holistic in Your Approach

It’s difficult to think that your salespeople will be breaking new milestones when they aren’t eating well, sleeping well or exercising well. Remind and encourage them to take care of themselves.

Robert Yao of EpiFinder told HubSpot he strongly advocates such a practice. If he finds that you’re hungry, he’ll buy you lunch. If you’re tired, he’ll ask you to take a nap and if you’re lacking exercise, he’ll ask you to go for a walk. 

The health of your sales team is a major determinant of their intrinsic levels of motivation. If their basic needs aren’t taken care of, it only makes it that much more difficult to maintain high morale and produce the highest level of sales performance.


4. Give Meaningful Rewards

Your sales team ins’t just motivated by money. I know – Crazy, right?

But it’s true. After a certain point cash incentives can get dull, even a for someone who works in sales. The significance of monetary incentives are only attached after your salespeople decide on what they want to do with the money and thus, becomes one step detached from the reward itself.

Going back to Dan Tyre‘s post for HubSpot, he share a examples on non-monetary rewards you could consider:

  1. Prospect for them.
  2. Buy them lunch and dinner.
  3. Cook them lunch and dinner.
  4. Clean their house (or hire a company to clean it for them).
  5. Babysit their kids. 
  6. Walk their dog.
  7. Wash their car.
  8. Give them a full day off.

Dan goes on explaining that these rewards don’t just motivate the recipient, it motivates the rest of the team too. “Everyone will be rooting for the individual rep because who doesn’t want to see their manager cooking their coworker dinner?”

Of course, another way to motivate the whole team is for there to be group-wide incentives. These can be in the form of more common incentives like throwing a BBQ, going to the movies and playing sports or… you can take it a step further.

Come up with crazy and wacky ideas that will transform the reward into a memorable, cheerful event. In season 8 episode 2 of the award-winning comedy series The Office, Andy, the Regional Sales Manager attempts to motivate his team.

He does so by implementing a system where they can earn points and redeem them for various rewards. As the grand prize, he gave them the option to TATTOO whatever they wanted on his backside – thinking they could never accumulate the points for it.

Lo and behold, they only needed one day. Andy ended up having his rear-end tattooed and the whole incentive program turned out to be as memorable and as cheerful as one could imagine. Adding a whole lot of meaning and a whole lot of inspiring.


Ideas for Motivating Your Sales Team


5. Set Breakthrough Goals

If your daily and weekly goals might be modest and easier to reach, they probably aren’t all that inspiring. You don’t get much motivation by playing it safe, you get it by having huge goals and being ambitious about them. 

Why not set a breakthrough goal  as a team?! Let it be beyond the scope of what your team has previously achieved but at the same time, within reasonable means and nothing too far from the capabilities of your team.

Orchestrate your daily, weekly and monthly goals to be in line with achieving this breakthrough goal and watch as you and your team work towards it. The idea of striving towards a common objective with the rest of the sales team will definitely serve to build morale and motivation.

Who knows maybe you’ll be the one tattooing your rear at the end of it all.


6. Recognize Efforts, Not Just the Results

You’re probably familiar with the concept of giving credit where credit is due. As a culture however, we tend to be very black and white in giving due credit. Instead of recognizing efforts made to move a needle, we only want to give credit if the needle moves as far as was intended. So even if progress is achieve, less than the desired progress is overlooked and not given praise.

Of course, when setting ambitious goals – trying to solve problems that maybe you, your team, or anyone else has ever tried to solve – their are bound to be set-backs and missed targets. It’s inevitable and it can be demoralizing.

Being empathetic and acknowledging the effort of your team, even when the intended results aren’t fully realized will fuel their fire even if they’ve worked themselves to brink of burning out. When they see you’ve noticed they’ll want even less to let you and the team down again. 

In a post for the pipedrive blog Lee Black explains:

“Focusing on sales results alone can be stressful, especially considering that as a salesperson or sales manager, you can influence yet never control results.

You can control the inputs that have the highest positive effects on achieving your goals — your activities.

For instance, you can control whether or not you make a sales call, and you can control what percentage you talk compared to listen on that call, yet the prospect’s decision to buy or say goodbye is entirely up to him or her…Focus on the means, and the ends will come.”


7. Be Flexible in Your Management Style

As mentioned earlier, every salesperson is different. You can’t expect the same management styles to work on them every member of your sales team. You have to adapt your thoughts and behaviors to suit the salespeople you’re trying to level-up if you want to be effective.

Ignore the inherent differences within your salespeople and you’ll find yourself clashing with some of them. Force yourself upon them and you’ll spark friction that harms morale, saps motivation, and stifles performance.

Instead, customize and support them as their sales leader. You’re in a much better position to exercise the needed change and flexibility. Discuss with your salespeople on how each of them would like to be managed and adjust.


Sales Leadership Through Motivation

Ultimately, you have to go above and beyond to motivate each and every member of your sales team. It’s easy to implement and practice these motivational strategies at the start. The difficulty comes in successfully doing them consistently, sincerely, and tactfully. As a sales leader it’s your responsibility to keep the team energized an motivated over time.


About The Author of This Article: I’m a passionate learner of all things learnable, always looking to try new things and have active interests in entrepreneurship, psychology and technology. If you’ve enjoyed what I’m written and are looking to connect, you can contact me at my website or on Facebook. I’d love to know what you’ve got to say!

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