In our latest episode of Mimeo’s Talk of the Trade, we spoke with Leslie Douglas, Director of Sales Training at JB Sales Training about creative ways to keep your sales team motivated. That includes identifying what motivates each individual, finding incentives that people will work for, and making sure your culture is primed for motivation. Read on for key takeaways from the episode.
Does money motivate sales people?
When many business leaders think about motivating sales people, they think “money.” However, Leslie has learned that it is not so simple. Yes, sales people are motivated by money, but throwing cash their way is not a catch-all solution. That’s because every individual wants that money for a different reason – and it is the why they want it that will motivate them.
For example, one sales rep may be interested in flashy watches or expensive cars, which means they will respond well to big cash incentives. Meanwhile, another sales rep is focused on paying off their mortgage, so they are interested in a steadier stream of money. The reason why they want the money changes their relationship to it, and therefore it changes the way they will respond to your incentives. For some, they may not even realize that money is their motivator: they may be more focused on the lifestyle it provides.
How do you find out what motivates your sales reps?
Once you recognize that money is not a catch-all motivator, you have to do the work to learn what motivates each individual on your team. If you are new to your role or the company, Leslie recommends leveraging your initial conversations to ask people: what motivates you? What are your goals for this year outside the company? What do you want to use your sales commissions for?
If you have been with the team for a while, then Leslie says it is a great part of the goal-setting conversation. Ask your sales rep what they will do with their money if they hit their quota, and be sure to find out the reasons behind their goals.
How do you use individual goals to motivate sales reps?
Now that you know what motivates your sales people, it is time to put that into action. Set goals with them that connect their sales job to their life motivations. For example, Leslie had one rep who wanted to buy an expensive, custom-sized bathtub, so they figured out how much one cost and worked backwards to what kind of sales numbers the rep needed to meet in order to afford it.
Once you have established smart goals for each rep, check in regularly so that the rep keeps their eye on the prize. Depending on you and your rep, this can be part of your weekly meetings or be more spaced out. Don’t forget to celebrate when they hit their goals!
Do monetary incentives work?
Because so many businesses believe that money is the sole motivator of sales people, often the only incentive dangled before a sales person is money, whether that is commission, bonus, or short-term incentive performance fund (SPIF).
Leslie thinks this is short-sighted. According to studies she has read and her own personal experience, sales teams respond better to non-monetary incentives. The most popular is earning the right to leave early on Fridays – because sales people work so hard in order to build the lives they want, not just to count the money in their bank accounts.
Other non-monetary incentives include lunch with senior leadership, travel, and merchandise. Leslie thinks the most important thing is to offer the sales person a choice, so that they can motivate towards whichever factor resonates with them.
Do sales people need recognition?
Sometimes, the best motivation is simply internal recognition. Leslie had seen sales people respond individually and as a team when sales leaders simply take the time to recognize their work. That can include sending an email to leadership highlighting an individual’s contribution that week. It could also be a handwritten thank-you note recognizing how much you appreciate the way a sales person handled a call. Leslie makes a point of scheduling gratitude into her calendar so that each week, she recognizes at least one person’s contribution to the sales team’s effort.
Does team culture impact sales motivation?
Yes. Leslie feels strongly that building a culture of feedback fosters a motivated sales team. It helps each sales person feel seen every day, plus it makes sure everyone is constantly trying to improve.
One way to build this culture is to model it yourself. As a leader, ask for feedback on your own performance, from management to presentations. Then, build time for feedback into team meetings and individual’s calendars, so that it doesn’t get forgotten in the middle of busy workweeks. Finally, encourage reps to ask for feedback from you, their peers, and even their prospects or clients.
When it comes to a mentor-rep relationship, Leslie has a few tips for effective feedback. First, ask each individual how they prefer to receive feedback. Do they want it in-the-moment or in a private setting? Do they prefer it in writing or face-to-face? Do they prefer a compliment sandwich, or simply direct?
Make sure you monitor the peer-to-peer feedback, too. While recognition between peers can be incredibly effective at motivating sales people, if it becomes a pile-up of things someone did wrong, that rep can end up incredibly demotivated. It is up to you to make sure everyone on the team is finding a balance.
Motivating your sales team is key to hitting your sales goals, so it is imperative that you take the time to learn what makes each of your reps tick before setting up incentives. Listen to the full podcast for more insight and tips from Leslie Douglas!