It can be tempting to give one sweeping easy answer here: Money!
But, although a salesperson might be more directly motivated by money than say a social worker, it will never be the sole motivating factor. Sure, it’s enough to motivate someone to get out of bed in the morning and show up to work, but is it enough to keep someone excited about the work they do day in and day out?
Long term motivation comes from the belief that the work we do is bringing value to the world, and our efforts, input, and opinions are valued by other people. Studies show that intrinsic motivators can affect output significantly more than extrinsic motivators like cash or fear of punishment.
Here are some things you can do today to get your team excited to work for you.
1) Public Recognition
Having quarterly/yearly employee reviews is a thing of the past. Employees today (yes especially millennials) crave consistent feedback on the work that they do so that they know where they stand, and can improve on the fly. If you’re a good manager you probably already send your reps one off emails congratulating on a big deal closed, or give verbal complements in 1 on 1 meetings. This is a great start! But, consider the benefits of recognizing your employees and team in a public setting. Whether it’s an email sent to the entire team, a message posted on your public Yammer or Chatter page, or a special shout-out during an all team meeting, publicly recognizing a specific salesperson can effectively motivate them for weeks on after.
The key here is adopting a practice of consistent recognition. Instead of only sending praise when someone closes a big deal, recognize them for going above and beyond in serving a customer, helping their colleague with a deck or proposal, or staying late to make sure all the data is up to date in the CRM.
Check out tools like RecognizeApp, Wooboard, and Kudos. Some of these even have Browser extensions to ensure that everyone on the team sees other people’s accomplishments. This also provides you with a nice record of what your team has been up to.
2) More Responsibility
Your A-players will always be motivated by the opportunity to have a greater impact on the team. If one of your sales guys is awesome at qualifying prospects and setting meetings, give them the opportunity to lead role-playing sessions for the whole team, and the freedom to develop a session format themselves. This will make them feel valued as an employee, and add some variety to their work.
Consider giving your junior salespeople the opportunity to come out of their comfort zone. Even if they normally go after smaller accounts, give them the chance to prove themselves and try to set a meeting with one big prospect, or a major decision maker that is normally reserved for your senior guys. You’ll be surprised at how well some people will do when the bar is raised higher, and when you show confidence in their ability to execute.
“Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left.” -Simon Sinek
3) Use Technology to Facilitate Healthy Competition
I’m sure that many of you have heard of the concept of gamification – “the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts…” such as work! Companies like Hoopla give you a way to instill this process through technology into your employees’ daily workflow. Not only does this give you a more organized and consistent way to encourage competition among your team, it also allows you to track and measure performance against any metric and gives you more data about what initiatives work best for your team.
4) Product Focus
Whether you sell software, or financial services, employees need to believe in the value the product brings or they can never perform at their best. As managers or business owners, it’s our jobs to make sure our team is confident about the product/service they’re representing, and one of the best ways to do this is by getting regular input from your employees about your offering.
By definition, sales people are likely spending more time with your customers than nearly anyone else in the company. It makes perfect sense to get product feedback from them. As a result you’ll get more insight into what customers need, and give a sense of ownership and purpose to your sales team.
For some other tips, see Vadim’s post about Ways to Make Cold Calling Fun.
If you walk away from this post remembering only one thing, it should be that our sales staff is motivated by the same things as any other employee – working toward a common goal that is greater than themselves, and seeing that their hard work never goes unnoticed.