7 Unusual Ways to Motivate Your Sales Team

The first time I suggested we lower quotas to drive performance, my boss thought I was crazy. Until we did. Results sky rocketed. Why?

7 Ways To Motivate

  1. Lower Quotas – Out of reach quotas demoralize. Let them taste success. Most good comp plans include multipliers. When solid reps get a multiplied paycheck they understand possibility.
  2. Sell it For Them – “If my out-of-touch boss can do this, it can’t be that hard.” In my case, “if this HR chick now running our sales organization can do this, it must REALLY be easy.” Not my typical “wind beneath the wings” advice. Ensure you understand the obstacles first hand, and lead from there.
  3. Go Bird Watching – This week I stopped by the office of one of the most successful, results-driven sales leaders I know. His assistant told me he’d taken his entire team on a “bird watching” lunch. Perspective clears the creative thought process. Motivate with a surprise break and time to strategize.
  4. Stop Talking Money – “To motivate a sales person bring money.” True. But that’s not the only thing. Determine what else matters. Career growth? Prestige? Relationships? Have deeper conversations.
  5. Shave your head – I’ll admit, this is not my personal go-to, but I’ve seen it do wonders to motivate both sales and customer service teams across several companies. For some reason, teams can’t wait to see their boss’ bald head. You get bonus motivation if the team does the shaving.
  6. Make It A Team Sport – “Sales people are out to be #1.” Some sales folks also love being part of a winning team. It may mean more than the paycheck. Don’t underestimate the value of old-fashioned team rivalry. Cultivated well, they will help one another grow.
  7. What would you add?
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Posted in Energy & Engagement, Results & Execution and tagged , , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

23 Comments

  1. Karin- you are a mind reader. I started few hours ago writing the draft of balancing load of work and motivation. I shall share my thoughts in brevity here out of respect for your grand post.
    The metaphor- tires that are inflated to specified pressure. Inflate more or less and the performance goes down, risk increases and stress goes upward. These result in de-motivating the staff. The vicious spiral starts.
    The optimal pressure level is dependent on the tires, road conditions, tire specs. Likewise; employees are not the same. We need to test not only increasing pressure on them, but equally important is lowering pressure. Less workload, go bird watching are just great examples of lowering pressure and releasing “excess unwanted air” inside them.

    Karin- I am sorry for the lengthy comment

  2. Karin- you are a mind reader. I started few hours ago writing the draft of balancing load of work and motivation. I shall share my thoughts in brevity here out of respect for your grand post.
    The metaphor- tires that are inflated to specified pressure. Inflate people with workload above or below their “optimal Zone” the performance goes down, risk increases and stress goes upward. These result in de-motivating the staff. The vicious spiral starts.
    The optimal pressure level is dependent on the tires, road conditions, tire specs. Likewise; not all employees are the same. We need to test not only by increasing pressure on them, but equally important by lowering pressure. Less workload, go bird watching are just great examples of lowering pressure and releasing “excess unwanted air” inside the employees.

    Karin- I am sorry for the lengthy comment

  3. It takes a special manager, of any department, to motivate the team to achieve the goal.

    There’s one problem. The manager has an emotional attachment to the outcome. So, it’s very difficult for them to show up in a coach like way and get the results they’re looking for from the team.

    p.s. Day 4 of my Plant Based challenge. Not sure if I’ll make it another 17 days. p.s. Quinoa Burgers are free of gluten-dairy-soy-corn-wheat-egg-nut. It’s also free of taste.

    • Steve, I agree that managing the emotional attachment part is tricky.. but necessary. That passion channeled well can be very motivating.

  4. 7. Have a great product.

    8. Share testimonials.

    9. Share updates from R&D.

    10. Tell them what’s going on in marketing.

    11. Be an open book.

    Salespeople are…people. If they believe in the product, they sell it. If they know that a bug fix is coming, they will sell it. If they understand more about how leads are generated they will do better.

    • Matt, yeah, a great product is a good start 😉 I really like your additions, particulary the testimonials and what’s happening in R&D… all creating important optimism.

    • Matt, I had a successful career in the high tech industry including software, hardware, and services for over twenty years. I learned it’s never about the product. I never had the greatest product. It’s about the relationship.

  5. Karin – I always enjoy seeing comments that I can relate to and experienced with you.

    Ali- I really like your metaphor on the tire pressure and plan to share that with some team members today, thanks.

    Tim

  6. I have to admit, I never heard someone recommend #1 and I’m already doing #5 😉

    And on #7 … show them the enthusiasm that you have for your work, and the product. Enthusiasm is contagious. Train them like a pro and build (and use) their skills to the maximum.

  7. Karin, I recommend giving them training and tools to make their job easy. I have come across a tool that was developed by a Sales professional. He will improve sales by 10% or better with his client types tool and 5 min of training. He will improve your sales even more with sustained training and tracking the use of client types and the results. Jason Young is the owner, I will be happy to connect you. http://www.clienttypes.com

    Combine his tools with communications and team building, your team will be happy and making sales.

  8. I personally love number one. I have never seen more demotivated teams than the ones that have high targets they fail to hit again and again and again. The worst in when targets are set based on budgeting goals rather than a real assessment of actual market realities and team capabilities.

    My suggestion is to always set a goal WITH your team. If last week wasn’t so hot, why not? What are we going to change and what improvement do we expect to see from it this week?

    • Nick, Great to have you in the conversation… yeah, #1 is my favorite too. I fully agree about setting the goal WITH your team. I find they will shoot high

  9. This is a great article! I can appreciate the lighter motivational strategies as well. I agree that having out of reach goals can be discouraging to even the best of salespeople. I would like to add that as a sales manager you have the responsibility of setting a good example. This includes having a positive attitude, working hard, and encouraging those below you that you are a leader and a part of the team. Thanks for sharing your wonderful tips and good luck to all those sales managers looking to light a fire under their sales team.

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