5 Tips on How to Motivate a Sales Team

There are a number of ways to motivate sales teams and sales executives both individually and as a group. Some say it’s better to motivate through rewards. Others prefer to use accountability and expectations to drive performance through a measurement and reporting platform.

As a manager, I can see values in both but tend to use a combination of the proverbial stick and carrot when motivating. Here are 5 tips on how to motivate a sales team.


1. Focus on growth and development. Often missing from incentive plans, focusing on growth and development can be an effective way to drive a team. Develop tiers or rankings within your team on certain skills or key attributes they should develop in the role and motivate each member to level up and obtain certification around a certain skill area. This can be highly inexpensive, can drive more results, and will keep your sales team engaged and driven together.

2. Incorporate regular feedback and input on KPIs from the team. Setting goals and aligning them with the higher level business goals are important, but also making sure the sales team has input can be impactful. Structure your quarterly goal setting meetings so that you can get feedback and buy in from the sales reps, especially your top performers. Sometimes what is important on a management level may not be part of the daily sales process anymore and helping to achieve more results.

3. Make the reward something they are not thinking of themselves. Rewards are great and getting ideas from the team can be nice, but what if the reward is totally off the sales team’s radar—something they would never think to buy for themselves? Take something that they don’t even see as within reach and make that the reward for a major competition. Thinking big will get your team driving big.

4. Get in the trenches and make sure your leaders can hit the goals. Nothing motivates a sales team like having their manager on the floor making calls next to them. If you see the person driving the expectations hitting them alongside you, your top sales people will work harder for you. Added perk: you will learn a lot about the sales pitch, process and approach from some time back on the phones.

5. Make sure the message and goals are consistent. Nothing drives a sales person nuts more than changing goals all the time. This month the goal is number of calls, next month opportunities are the only important thing. Perhaps then it becomes profitability, something most sales people really cannot impact. Goals should be S.M.A.R.T. and complement the overall business objectives. Although goals may focus on different areas of the sale, make sure the overall message is consistent to the team and they feel like they can build momentum to deliver and win.

This framework aims to drive the results you want as a manager or leadership team. Keeping short- and long-term goals in mind, along with each of these five points, is also a key factor in creating a motivating plan. Assign the team shot-term deliverables that drive long-term payouts. If all else fails, jump on the phones and close some deals. Nothing motivates a competitive salesperson more than seeing their manager dust off their skills and start kicking butt.

Happy selling!