15 Ways to Motivate Your Sales Team to Drive More Results in Less Time

Lindsey KoneffKlatt

11 min

Inside this article:

Tip #1: Get Sales Compensation Plans Right

Tip #2: Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Tip #3: Gain Their Respect

Tip #4: Don't Micromanage

Tip #5: Offer Public Recognition

Tip #6: Be Helpful

Tip #7: Make Your Work Meaningful

Tip #8: Offer Flexibility

Tip #9: Offer Advancements

Tip #10: Educate Your Sales Reps

Tip #11: Use Leaderboards

Tip #12: Run Weekly Sales Contests

Are you interested in learning how to motivate a sales team? 

In this post, we discuss stress-free strategies to motivate your sales people and boost overall sales productivity.

Tip #1: Get Sales Compensation Plans Right

The BIGGEST motivator for salespeople to reach the results that the sales leader wants them to is to ensure that their sales compensation plans align with those results.

Every business is different, just as all sales teams are diverse. Depending on your products and services offered, your compensation incentives will also vary. But there is one common thread that every successful compensation plan shares: it fits with your company’s overarching goals. In short, your sales compensation shouldn’t just be tactical, but strategic as well.

Carefully align your organizational goals with your teams' pocket books. As a sales leader, the best way to motivate reps toward breakthrough sales performance is to adjust comp plans toward the most valuable metrics (e.g.  not just compensating Inside Sales reps on outbound calls made, but appointments booked or attended; and not just paying Account Executives for doing demos but on closing sales).

Comp plans should have accelerators built-in, to motivate reps to exceed a specific target goal to start earning a higher commissions rate. Be mindful to communicate that they don’t have any commissions cap!

Our friends at Saleshacker have the perfect sales compensation plan blueprint to help you get it right the first time or make some quick tweaks to your existing comp plans.

Tip #2: Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Generic goals don’t motivate. Simply telling your salespeople “let’s sell more” won’t inspire them to actually do anything. But if you set S.M.A.R.T. goals, you’ll be able to successfully activate your sales force.

Let’s break down what S.M.A.R.T. stands for.

  • Specific - Identify exactly what sales targets you'd like to accomplish.
  • Measurable -  Have a way to track and report on progress.
  • Achievable - Choose a goal that you can actually achieve with your sales executives and resources. 
  • Relevant - Check that your sales goal is in line with your business objectives.
  • Time-based - Every goal should have a deadline, otherwise your sales teams have no urgency to act now.

Work with your salespeople to decide upon 1-3 “SMART” goals to focus on per month or per quarter.  Allow them to create the goals and work with them to revise, if necessary, ensuring they align with your overarching team goals and also meet the “SMART”' criteria.

Tip #3: Gain Their Respect

If your salespeople respect you then they’ll work hard for you. As sales leaders, you can earn your sales force’s respect by doing the following:

  • Be transparent - Share sales results, be honest and straightforward, and don't try to hide things from your salespeople. 
  • Be consistent - Provide your reps an equal opportunity to perform at their best. If something applies to Sally, it should also apply to Sue. Your salespeople can spot inconsistency a mile away. Always have a level playing field.
  • Ask for feedback - Part of transparency is fostering an open office environment, where your team feels free to come to you with issues. Encourage that.
  • Implement feedback - Don't just ask for feedback. Also take action so that your employees know you respect their insight.
  • Help them - Make yourself available as back-up support and make it known that they can rely on you for help when they need it. Help draft up a proposal if they’re booked solid with demos that day.  Follow-up with a lead that has gone dark on them and help to re-engage.  If they know you’re in their court and working towards their success, respect (and appreciation) will come naturally.

Tip #4: Don't Micromanage

Micromanaging can kill any positive sentiment that you’ve built by implementing the above. Micromanaging is de-motivating for sales professionals because it implies that you don’t trust them.  It stifles creativity and causes stress. It also tethers them to you and you skills, rather than giving them room to explore, learn, and discover their own strengths.

Micromanaging in sales

It's important to note that with remote work becoming more and more commonplace, micromanaging is also harder to do. At the end of the day your goal should be to hire the best, most self-motivated folks, so you can focus on the big picture. (If it’s not already part of the criteria you consider when hiring, make sure you do strive to seek out sales reps with a self-driven, independent mindset, ideally with a proven track record of success in a remote or self-managed work environment.)

Instead of micromanaging, have team meetings with your sales managers as well as one on ones with your sales reps. Give them an individualized set of S.M.A.R.T. goals. Also, give them access to resources and encourage knowledge sharing. Then, get out of their way and see what they can do. But stay within reach. Always be an accessible source of support that your salespeople can call upon.

Tip #5: Offer Public Recognition

Acknowledge performers on your sales force through rewards and some sort of public recognition for their excellence. Whether we choose to admit it, most of us are motivated by public praise.

In addition to praising individual team members, you can also praise your entire team for closing deals (be it small and big wins).

Recognize them in a company-wide meeting or newsletter, a weekly sales team huddle, or a sales leaderboard.

Tip #6: Be Helpful

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It's a problem when reps dread going to their superior for help. This the result of impatience and judgement, and it only causes issues to stay buried. On the other hand, openness to questions and concerns teaches your team to seek solutions and improvement.

Always be a source of support for your team. If you’ve climbed up the ranks, you know what it’s like to be a salesperson. Don’t lose sight of that perspective. Remember what you needed as a salesperson and be ready to provide those resources to your peers, whether that’s in the form of books, courses, mentorship, etc.

Be available as a backup support to help them close more deals however they may need it.

Tip #7: Make Your Work Meaningful

You may be selling widgets or services, but those aren’t meaningless. They help your customer in some way.

However, when you’re selling widgets or services day in and day out, it’s easy to lose sight of this. And not just for you, but also for your sales reps.

It’s up to you to remind your reps that your sales process has meaning. You’re not selling a commodity, you’re selling a solution to a gnawing problem and bringing value to your customer’s life. This shift in perspective can motivate your sales team to work harder.

It’s up to you to remind your reps that your sales process has meaning. You’re not selling a commodity, you’re selling a solution to a gnawing problem and bringing value to your customer’s life. This shift in perspective can motivate your sales team to work harder.

Regularly share customer success stories with your salespeople to remind them why their job is important. If your company does not already have a “mission statement,” work with others on your executive team to create one.

Tip #8: Offer Flexibility

Give your employees work arrangement flexibility. Instead of forcing them to come into the office, allow your sales reps to work remotely (if they choose to or a pandemic makes it a requirement). Some salespeople will prefer the office environment, and some might be more productive when they’re able to make their own hours. So consider what kind of flexibility you can offer to ensure happiness and productivity equally.

Tip #9: Offer Advancements

Very few people want to stay in the same position for the rest of their lives. Offer advancement opportunities, such as a clear progression from “sales development rep” to “account executive” or a management training track, to your salespeople. Those who are inclined to do more will take you up on your offer.

Having the ability and encouragement to progress in their career can prove to be a great sales motivation for them to do their best now.

Tip #10: Educate Your Sales Reps

Give your employees access to the information they need to do their jobs effectively. For example, research and share with your salespeople new strategies for how to accomplish your business objectives. Or create one-day workshops (in person and virtual) that teach your sales team new techniques that will improve their job performance.

A proven strategy is also having 1-on-1 coaching sessions between the rep and the sales manager to identify each rep's particular strengths and weaknesses by reviewing individual calls or demos with them weekly. Create a "scorecard" that defines your standards of excellence for particular parts of the sales process or particular skills important to you and assess the call based on these standards. Choose one area with room for growth to focus on individually with each rep monthly and continue to offer coaching around that area of focus until improvement is demonstrated.

And when we can safely and responsibly travel again, consider rewarding your people with a group trip where you can meet, greet, and learn together.

Tip #11: Use Leaderboards

Visibility and accountability are a cornerstone of success for any sales team leader.

Sales leaderboards are a way to publicly display certain metrics and use gamification to improve team performance. Your reps can see how they measure up against each other. Stoke the flames of friendly competition and improve productivity across the company.

But don’t just stop at one metric. You can track multiple metrics with your leaderboards to reward different achievements based on productivity (calls made, talk time) as well as performance (demos set, sales made, most upsells).

real time sales leaderboard reports

If you have a larger sales department, consider splitting reps into multiple teams and then pit them against each other. This can be an effective way to create camaraderie and cooperation while also inspiring people to perform to the best of their ability.

PhoneBurner's leaderboards update in real time so that your team(s) can assess where they stand. They can be broadcast in an office, or even displayed remotely.

In addition to competition, leaderboards are great for creating a transparent workplace for companies.

Tip #12: Run Weekly Sales Contests

Choose an organization goal that can be accomplished by the end of the week and then run a sales contest within your team to meet that goal. For example, your contest can be tied to the number of deals your sales team can close by Friday at noon.

Set it up as sales rep against sales rep or for your entire sales organization, a great team building exercise.

By assigning a fast-approaching deadline (such as the end of the week), you create a sense of urgency. Your sales reps will be more motivated to act because the deadline isn’t too far away.PhoneBurner’s Leadstream feature allows you to define rules for automated lead distribution, so more successful reps (or reps who win a contest) could potentially be rewarded with additional opportunities.

As a reward, you can offer cash prizes, or gift cards to local businesses.

Tip #13: Create End-of-Month Promotions

Assign a goal to reach by the end of each month. To make it fun, choose a different theme each month. Then offer prizes for team members who reach that goal as motivation. You could even make it more competitive by rewarding the rep who can close the highest percentage of their sales quota by the 15th of the month.

In addition to prizes, create a wall of fame to honor your monthly achievers. This can serve as a source of motivation for your team members. Who wouldn’t want to be honored on a wall of top achievers?

Another way to commemorate your monthly achievers is by gifting them with a trophy. It’s a fun gesture and a source of pride that they can reflect on and use to motivate themselves in the future.

Tip #14: Focus on Small Wins

Set up daily goals so that your team can enjoy daily wins. For example, set an attainable number of cold calls or demos that your team can make for the day. If they meet it, celebrate. While you’re chipping away at a bigger goal, accomplishing small wins can keep your team focused and stave off apathy.

Tip #15: Offer Sincere Thanks

Does your team know that you’re grateful for them?

Remember that they’re not mind readers. You must verbally express your gratitude. But don’t just say “thank you” and leave it at that, you could make it memorable by giving out SWAG - people love nice golf shirts, hats, t-shirts, etc. and explain exactly what you’re thankful for. Not only will this add weight to your gratitude, but it will also show your rep what you value so it will positively reinforce the actions you’d like to see repeated.

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