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How To Motivate Your Sales Reps

“Why is it that we are all born with limitless potential, yet few people fulfill those possibilities.”

Abraham Maslow

Motivation (noun) – The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.

American psychologist and Professor, Johnmarshall Reeve describes motivation as “an internal process; a drive, a need, or condition inside us that desires a change, either in the self or in the environment.”

Employee motivation is a critical aspect of your company’s success. Some companies out there fail to understand its importance.

In a study from Gallup, data shows that many companies have disengaged employees with low motivation; only 13% of employees are engaged at work. Without a motivated workplace, companies and their employees could be placed in a very risky position.

Sales reps and SDRs become great because they work at it continuously. This is why your role as the sales leader is crucial. It’s your job to help your sales team succeed. Making sure your team has the right skills and knowledge is a relatively straightforward process – you just mark the areas needing improvement and build specific training and education around those areas.

Identifying and executing a vision to increase motivation is another story. Results vary based on the individual and are impacted by external factors out of your control, so strategies that work for one team may not work for another. With goals becoming more aggressive and the average quota attainment lower than average throughout the pandemic, sales turnover is at an all-time high. 21st-century problems require modern, 21st-century solutions.

It’s important for sales leaders to have a clear view of what motivates their team and what steps the company can take to address their needs.

The 2 Primary Types of Motivation
There are two main types of motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic
1. Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation comes from internal drivers like self-improvement, self-promotion, or helping someone in need. You are performing an activity for its own sake rather than from the desire for some external reward. The behavior itself is its own reward.
Intrinsic driving factors can be positive or negative and are typically more sustainable than extrinsic motivation because it focuses on things you can control.

Factors That Affect Intrinsic Motivation: 
  • New knowledge or skills
  • Engagement and accomplishment 
  • Praise or positive feedback 
  • Sincerity 
  • Gut instinct 
2. Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation comes from external rewards like money or praise. These types of motivation are more common than intrinsic motivators and include achieving things due to a tangible incentive, fear, or expectation.

Factors That Affect Intrinsic Motivation:
  • Raises, commissions, and bonuses
  • Completion or contingent rewards
  • Unexpected rewards
  • Fame or exposure
  • Biological / Intimacy

The main difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is that intrinsic motivation comes from within and extrinsic motivation comes from outside. The two types of motivation can, however, differ in their level of effectiveness. Intrinsic motivation, however, is typically more effective as a long-term method for achieving goals and completing tasks in a way that makes you feel fulfilled. While extrinsic motivation is helpful in certain situations, it may eventually lead to burn out or lose effectiveness over time. Additionally, extrinsic rewards, such as bonuses, commissions, awards, or prizes, are the only things that can promote interest in certain tasks.

It is important to note that within these two broad categories are 7-9 more specific types of motivation that highlight a single motivating factor. These types of motivation have their own advantages and disadvantages in the workplace. There is really no right or wrong answer as to which is more beneficial. It depends on the situation and the individuals being motivated. 

The techniques applied are different, the time required for each type of motivation to kick in is different, and so are the results. However, at the core, the major purpose of both kinds of motivation remains the same. The ultimate goal is to motivate an individual in order to get the job done.

Motivation At Work

Motivation is highly personal, so sales managers need to take the time to understand the specific preferences and motivating drivers of each member of their team. Ask them!

  • What motivates you?
  • What drives your performance? Would you like me to help guide you more, or do you push yourself?
  • Do you respond better to recognition, or the satisfaction that comes with meeting and exceeding goals?

The best motivational strategy is to blend multiple types together, giving yourself maximum motivation. However, certain situations might call for a specific blend of motivational forces and factors. To help, check out the different situations below.

Quotas & Compensation
A quick Google search for “How To Motivate Your Sales Team” and the first result you’ll probably come across is Pay. If money wasn’t an appealing incentive, it wouldn’t be the basis of sales commissions and incentive compensation. At the end of the day, money is always a motivator.

It’s crucial to consider your goals, incentives, and commission structure that will drive performance and keep morale high. The key to a successful sales compensation plan is well-designed sales quotas that are achievable, but still, require effort to reach.

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY – they must be easy to calculate.

  • Allow for fair and correct sales compensation
  • Provide benchmarks that reveal inefficiencies or uncover successes within the sales process
  • Establish achievable goals

Build Trusting Relationships
Swedish economist Tobias Fredberg found a fascinating pattern by examining how dozens of CEOs spoke in interview transcripts. CEOs who had successfully turned a company around shared the same way of speaking. They personally took the blame for problems—using the words “I” and “me”—and passed the credit to the team for successes—using the words “us” and “we.

No one likes an out of touch manager. So instead of telling them, show them. Start making cold calls, drafting emails, and closing deals right in front of your team. Inspire them by setting an example. You might find a problem with a process, sales script, or an issue with how the team is finding leads.

Learn About Their Personal and Professional Goals:
“Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.”
-Daniel Pink

When your team is doing well in the day-to-day, you can step back and watch everyone succeed. But at pivotal times, you need to personally bring on change and see your vision through. One way of doing this is getting to know your team better. Your sales reps will feel more comfortable telling you about potential stumbling blocks they’re encountering. Otherwise, you’ll be unaware of an issue until it spirals out of control and blows up in your face.

Ensure that your employees feel that their work and efforts are an important contribution to the company’s success. Remember to always keep an ‘open-door’ policy and have an approachable management team.

Overall, while all types of motivation are either intrinsic or extrinsic, there are really many types of motivational incentives that can help you succeed. Motivated employees can lead to increased productivity and allow an organization to achieve higher levels of output.  It is your job as a sales leader to understand when and where to use each type of motivation, and to find ones that resonate with your team to help increase your motivational force.

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