motivate your sales team

Strategies to Motivate Your Sales Team

There’s nothing really easy about being on the sales team. They need to convince new clients — often through cold calls — that your product or service is the best for them. It requires [...]

There’s nothing really easy about being on the sales team. They need to convince new clients — often through cold calls — that your product or service is the best for them. It requires a particular blend of charisma, intelligence and persistence, especially in world now dominated by mobile devices and self-service eCommerce portals. And even when sales people get the face-to-face or over-the-phone meeting they need, it typically takes five follow-up calls to seal the deal. The result? You need a way to motivate your sales team to keep them focused, driven and primed for success. Here’s a look at six top strategies to turbo-charge your sales team.

Commensurate Compensation

Although it’s not the only thing you need to do to motivate your sales team, compensation (or money) may be the easiest place to start? As noted by Business News Daily, “cold, hard cash is a tried and true motivator” prompting many companies to hold weekly, monthly or quarterly contests to see which individual or team can rack up the most sales and then compensate them accordingly. If you’re looking to do something a little outside the box, consider handing out cash rewards for the salesperson with the most “no’s” in a given week or month. Seems counter-intuitive, right? But think about it — if they’re really digging in, making cold calls and giving it everything they’ve got, “no” comes up more than “yes” simply based on volume. As a result, it’s a good idea to recognize them for the effort with a small cash gift while simultaneously offering a bigger prize for the high-value “yes” at the end of the road.


While money is a great motivator, it can only take your sales team so far. Sure, you can switch it up by handing out gift cards or “fun” rewards like ping pong tables or beanbag chairs, but eventually the promise of tangible rewards starts to wear thin. To keep sales teams focused on long-term goals and motivated over the short term, it’s a good idea to introduce a solid amount of healthy competition. The idea here is to energize your staff by giving them goals to meet (and surpass) and letting them compete to see who’s the “best” as selling a particular product or reaching overall sales expectations.

The potential downside? Fostering an environment where competition is cutthroat, instead of encouraging, can lead to fear instead of focus. You can sidestep this issue by following a few simple guidelines:

  • Fun First – As noted by Small Biz Trends, keeping competitions lighthearted means that no one is stressed out about losing their job or taking a pay cut.
  • Team Up – While being a standout is great, team play lets staff collaborate and compete at the same time. It may even improve your teams overall results.
  • Pay Attention – This isn’t fire-and-forget. Actively monitor the competition to make sure it’s not getting out of hand.

And The Award Goes To …

Rewarding your top performers can be a very effective way to motivate your sales team and it’s not uncommon for your star sales employees want to be recognized as the best in the room—the one recognized as having contributed the most, made the most calls or topped the sales charts. However, according to the Harvard Business Review, many companies make the mistake of consistently recognizing “rainmakers” while ignoring core performers who are essential to the team’s overall success. Bottom line? It’s a good idea to regularly recognize individual successes to help team members feel unique and valued, but it’s also worth varying the criteria. This allows rainmakers to receive praise for their stand-out successes while also recognizing your sales workhorses for keeping you in the black.

Individual Achievement

Along the same line as recognizing individual success with awards and public praise, it’s also worth setting up individual goals sales people can meet to earn cash or prizes. Here, the idea is to tailor each staff member’s goal to their particular strengths while also encouraging them to improve in areas where they struggle. For example, you might set up a program for a top cold caller by rewarding them in cash for each new sale they add every month to their running total. But it’s also possible to take this a step further by adding incentives for the sales leader to help others on their team or shore up existing client relationships. If you make these rewards substantial enough and provide solid encouragement, the result is a sales team with substantial depth.

Dig Deeper

Sometimes, you need to discover where they struggle and making their jobs easier to motivate your sales team. It may even be worth integrating your customer relationship management (CRM) platform with basic computer telephony integration (CTI), which allows you to monitor and record sales calls. This gives you the benefit of hard data that can then be analyzed to determine where sales people are seeing success and where they may need more training. One caveat: don’t do this in the dark — make sure your staff knows that you will be periodically monitoring calls, evaluating the data and suggesting potential changes.

And speaking of computer integration, because the long-term costs of a cloud-based CRM are so appealing, a VoIP or mobile-first solution could directly impact sales staff. While many of these new offerings are easy to deploy and cause minimal IT issues, they can also lead to sudden sales drop-offs as staff struggle to adapt their workflows and deal with the loss of “familiar” processes. The solution? Schedule time for training and questions before rolling out a new technology and offer follow-up assistance for anyone having trouble with new systems.

Leader of the Pack

Who does your sales team look to for motivation? Ideally, staff will encourage each other and help boost total morale, but ultimately they take their cues for success and failure from you. As a result, solid sales leadership is critical for closing deals and comes with three hallmarks:

  • Knowledge – Sales leaders understand both the logistical and personal process of sales and can offer direct and actionable advice to staff.
  • Understanding – Leaders that regularly sit down with staff for debriefs and reviews gain a better understanding of their strengths and challenges.
  • Consistency – Great leaders know what they’re aiming for and encourage others to reach (and surpass) this mark. They’re also consistent in terms of discipline and expectations, allowing staff to feel comfortable in approaching them with a problem or concern. Great leaders also know when to slim down sales teams as required, and do so quickly and efficiently.

Ready to turbo-charge your sales team and close more deals? Don’t be afraid to offer cash, but recognize the value of healthy competition. Praise individuals, credit rainmakers, but don’t ignore core performers. Finally, go deeper with analytics and training — and make sure your team has the leader they deserve.