Motivating salespeople can be a challenge. I’ve spent more time managing sales teams than any other activity in my long and varied career. When I first became a sales manager, I was a good salesperson but a crappy manager. Although I tried, I wasn’t effective at motivating salespeople. I managed people as if they were projects, like they were all the same, not understanding individuals are motivated in various ways. It shouldn’t have been difficult for me to understand because my motivators drastically changed quickly. I went from a 19-year-old college student to a 20-year-old working father. What motivated me at 20 differed from what motivated me a year earlier.

10 Tips for Motivating Salespeople 

It’s not always about money

However, it may be. Salespeople, in general, are motivated by money. However, be careful; not every salesperson is as motivated by money as the next person. For example, as a new father, I was motivated by family time as much if not more than money.

Most Salespeople are competitive—to some degree

Some of the most successful sales campaigns I managed were challenges and contests, and often for nothing more than pride. Salespeople, in general, are competitive, but once again, be aware that the competitive spirit differs by individual. It’s not one size fits all.

Salespeople want to be recognized

Almost everyone likes to be recognized for their efforts, results, and character. One of the keys to effective recognition is learning how individual team members prefer to be recognized. Some want to be lauded in front of their peers, while others prefer private acknowledgment.

Be a coach

Help individual salespeople improve. Use observable behavior and objective criteria to pinpoint areas of needed improvement, then provide the training to reach new levels.

Salespeople want direction

Most people, including salespeople, don’t want to be totally on their own. They want a plan that will help them succeed. For example, don’t order a sales rep to get more leads this week; direct them to make two new customer calls daily and then send you a report on the results.

Instill belief in your product

It’s hard to sell an inferior product. It can be done and is by con men. Give your sales team products they can proudly represent and back them up with superior service.

Meet market price points

When a competitor offers a similar quality product for less, you lose not only sales but also salespeople.

Provide support

The lack of administrative, customer service, and product installation support often forces salespeople to fill those roles. This detracts from sales time, but it’s also an attitude killer.

Manage but don’t micromanage

Give salespeople the training, direction, and support they need, and then give them the freedom to do their job.

One More Lesson

As I stated earlier, learning these lessons took me a long time. And here’s one more. Not everyone is motivated alike, and they shouldn’t be managed the same. Don’t make managing a sales team a project by expecting every salesperson to be motivated by the same things. They’re not. You have to get to know each person to learn what motivates them. If you’d like to discuss this, leave me a comment or contact me. It’s a topic I’m fond of discussing. It motivates me.

Are you in Sales Management?

Are you leading people or managing projects? Do you set goals based on activities to continue, eliminate, or improve or do you strictly look at the results? Do you believe one sales strategy fits all your clients and all your sales team? If so, you’re walking the streets I paved, and those streets lead to disappointment. The good news is if you recognize these behaviors in yourself, you can change. I did. I eventually became a highly effective sales manager and so can you. This workbook is the place to start. The New Sales Managers Workbook

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