Sales motivation: why it’s important

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Let's face it: life in a sales team involves a lot of rejection. And yet, research shows that happy teams are the most effective – and that they sell more. It implies that successful teams need powerful emotional counterweights to help them to stay engaged. That's why sales motivation should be ingrained in your company's culture.

Victor Vroom created his famous theory of motivation to explain how decision-making works. He argued that motivation is a complex mental calculation. Will we be able to perform at the required level and will this lead to a reward? Is the reward worth the effort?

It means that one size doesn't fit all. Goals need to contain the right amount of 'stretch' for each individual. If the reward doesn't appeal, then it's unlikely to motivate.

What about throwing money at it? Commission schemes and bonuses are sales world staples. However, financial rewards only have a weak impact on job satisfaction. And none on employee loyalty. After all, if money is the primary motivator, your employees will leave as soon as they get a better offer.

72% of employees around the world receive praise less than once a week. What a missed opportunity, as feedback is crucial for performance. In fact, high-performing teams give each other five compliments for every criticism. Neurological studies show that it can feel as good as a financial reward.

So how can you go about building a culture of recognition at your company?

Be clear on your goals
Where focus goes, energy flows. Your team will pay careful attention to what actions you praise. It's worth working out what you want to encourage. Is it all about revenue or are there other objectives? Linking praise to the bigger company picture can also give it more meaning.

Stale fails
A sincere 'good job' is always welcome. But it's vague and repetitive. Try to pinpoint what exactly went well and put some thought into your language.

Ever heard about the rats who received variable rewards? This principle underpins many video games and it's valid for the workplace too. Ever felt that your sales contests last forever? They've probably lost their motivational effect. Aware that your team has started to game the system? Time to switch things up.

Novelty heightens the sense of reward. (To be clear, we don't recommend that you withhold recognition. Just that you put some thought into keeping it fresh.) Interactive TV displays and creative deal celebrations are great for getting an extra dopamine hit.

Make it personal
Not all rewards will appeal equally. For example: do you have working parents on your team? The flexibility to attend a school concert or sports event might mean a lot.

Learning opportunities are also highly valued, particularly by millennial employees. It doesn't have to be off-site training. New responsibilities, coaching or online learning are all great additions to your arsenal.

Listening to your employees about what they value will pay off in other ways, too. Minimising monotonous, energy-sapping tasks can work wonders.

Analysis shows the way
Make sales motivation part of your KPIs. Track the effect of your initiatives by matching them to your performance targets. This will help you build up an accurate picture of what works for your company.

Tools such as OneUp Sales can help. Say farewell to Excel spreadsheets and fiddly charts. Interactive and easy-to-digest reports give you quick access to the insights you need. With access for the whole team, everyone knows where they're at – and allows them control of their performance. The best thing of all? There's not a whiteboard in sight.

There are lots of sales motivation ideas: trips and events, lunch with the team or with senior leadership, promotions… Public or private, the list is endless. What are your top tips?

Photo by Kira auf der Heide and Proxyclick on Unsplash