Sales Performance Enhancement

Expert advice on how to motivate your sales team

Jonathan Hubbard
Jonathan Hubbard
March 1, 2024

Motivating your sales team takes time and requires a thoughtful approach. To deepen our understanding, the Numerik team spoke with Mike Stokes, CEO at sales leadership development organization Indicator, where he shared his approach to engaging salespeople in their work and uncovering their motivators.

What drives salespeople to stick with their roles? How do you find out what motivates salespeople? What process should you use to motivate a sales team? How do you retain your best salespeople and keep them motivated? Read on to get the answers.

Motivating your sales team and keeping them motivated

What motivates a salesperson to stick with their role?

Salespeople aren’t compelled to stay in their role purely for a good commission. Citing Indicator’s 2022 salesperson mood of sales survey, Mike explains there are 6 reasons motivating salespeople to stay in their roles:

1st equal= Love of their company.

1st equal= Skill set development opportunities.

2nd= Company culture.

3rd= Their clients.

4th= Love of the industry.

5th= Remuneration.

Based on data gathered from New Zealand salespeople, these 6 reasons could help sales leaders reconsider how they motivate their team. If a salesperson’s love of their company and desire to develop their skills are key drawcards, what could you do to foster their engagement and up their game? 

How do you find out what motivates your sales team? + common motivators

Learn what motivates your salespeople infographic

Sales leaders can’t start taking actions to boost their sales team’s motivation without understanding what motivates each salesperson. Discovering what motivates your sales team can be done quickly using three questions:

1: What is the most important thing in your career or your role (list)?

To uncover what really motivates your salespeople, you’ll need to push hard. Often, your salesperson’s top motivator won’t come out first: keep asking “what else motivates you?” and add each new motivator to the list.

Alternatively, you can phrase the first question as “what do you value?” 

2: Which one of these is the most important to you (order)?

To order the motivator list, push your salespeople to explain why each motivator is important to them. Keep working together to shape the order, taking time to discuss and double check each motivator’s ranking.

3: Why is this so important to you?

Choose the highest-ranked motivator from the salesperson’s list and discuss why it’s important to them. Drilling into the “why” can help you discover exactly how your salespeople become motivated, which you can draw on to adapt your leadership style.

Mike explains there are seven common motivators sales leaders may uncover when asking these three questions, including: 

Based on the motivators you collect from your sales team, you can start making decisions about how to change your sales leadership to better motivate your salespeople.

What process should you use to motivate a sales team?

The motivation process begins at the individual level. Individually, sales leaders can talk with their salespeople to understand what motivates them. After uncovering their motivators, sales leaders can take steps to alter their leadership for each individual. 

Tailoring leadership to the individual takes concentrated effort. Mike recalls an experience he had with an extremely driven salesperson. The salesperson wanted to lead their team by over 30%, while their team was motivated by seeing how their combined efforts were impacting the business. Helping the competitive salesperson quantify and track their performance against their colleagues was a key step Mike took to motivate and engage the salesperson in their role. If Mike had overlooked the salesperson’s motivators and focused on motivating the team as a whole, the salesperson may not have reached their full potential. Each salesperson is motivated in different ways, making majority-rules approaches less effective.

To complete the motivation process, sales leaders can explain to their salespeople how each individual’s work meaningfully contributes to a wider team goal. If the team goal is to earn over $30 million in revenue, how can you make every $1000 meaningful? 

How do you retain your best salespeople and keep them motivated? 

To retain and motivate your salespeople, sales leaders can continually improve and adapt their leadership style and work environment to suit their salespeople’s motivators. However, unless leaders regularly check-in with their salespeople, they won’t know where changes should be made until it’s too late. Mike recommends using stay interviews to regularly check in with salespeople. 

Stay interviews are short individual conversations sales leaders have with their salespeople to understand what each salesperson is liking about their role, why they’re staying, and what could be changed to lengthen their stay and improve their role. 

If you’d like to run a stay interview, you can use the infographic below as a guide:

Using stay interviews to understand salesperson motivation

Summary and your key takeaways:

Sales motivation isn’t something sales leaders can create overnight. Cultivating sustainable motivation in a sales team starts at the individual level and is ongoing. Let’s recap your main takeaways:
1: Salespeople are motivated to stay in their roles out of love for their company, potential development opportunities, company culture, their clients, love of their industry, and remuneration.

2: To uncover what motivates your salespeople, ask these questions: what is the most important thing in your career or role? Which of these is most important? Why is this so important to you?

3: To motivate all sales team members, you can start by a. Understanding what motivates each person, b. Tailor your leadership to their motivators, c. Explain how their work meaningfully relates to wider goals.

4: Retain your salespeople and sustain motivation by taking time to hold stay interviews.

This blog was inspired by the stories and advice shared in SalesHitch Episode 2 by Mike Stokes. Discover Mike’s process for building sales engagement in your sales team in this article here.

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