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March 2018
How to Motivate Sales Employee?
Authored by: Srinivas D, Senior Manager - Sales



Motivation is word derived from word “motive” which means needs, desire, wants or drives within the individuals. Motivation is a process which helps in stimulating people to accomplish goals.

Quoting Author Jeff Nevid’s definition, "The term motivation refers to factors that activate, direct, and sustain goal-directed behavior. Motives are the 'whys' of behaviour – the needs or wants that drive behavior and explain what we do. We don't actually observe a motive; rather, we infer that one exists based on the behavior we observe."

In the context of work, there are certain psychological factors which could be:

  • Desire for money
  • Success
  • Recognition
  • Job-Satisfaction
  • Team Work

Which makes it an important function of the company’s management to create willingness amongst employees to perform to their best. Hence, the role of leader is to arouse interest in performance of employees in their jobs.

Going by individual approach, not all of us are same. It is important to categorise employees and then try to motivate them. Touching upon the theory of motivation, employees can be categorised in either being motivated with stimuli coming from within (“Intrinsic”) or from outside (“Extrinsic”).

When we think of Sales employees, the adjectives which get associated are Enthusiastic, Cheerful, Persuasive, Talkative… They think of targets, quotas, conversion, revenues…

Intrinsic motivation of Sales employees

In the intrinsic part, going by personal experience at work & with friends, some desires which keeps us motivated could be:

  1. Acceptance – team, manager, management accepting your views, decisions etc.,
  2. Curiosity – know it all
  3. Honor – respect for rules set & be ethical
  4. Independence – sense of doing things alone & uniquely
  5. Order – organized feeling
  6. Power – to be influential
  7. Social Status – to feel important

In order to drive intrinsic motivation for your sales employees, you could follow these examples:

  1. Add responsibilities to feel inspired
  2. Recognize them as a valuable resource : Employee Spotlight newsletters
  3. Make them feel accomplished
  4. Thank you emails to make them desired to be remembered as a thought leader in the industry space

Extrinsic motivation of Sales employees

Extrinsic motivation comes when you feel the urge to do something in order to gain a specific reward, or steer clear of a punishment. An example of this would be working hard on a external project to get get extra pay or a promotion.

So on the extrinsic part, which is external in nature. Some which comes from experience are:

  1. Recognition
    1. Weekly Award
    2. Monthly Award
    3. Quarterly Award
  2. Transparency
    1. Clear defined process of working & benefits
    2. Policies explained
  3. Incentives
    1. Bonuses – Joining, Retention, Closing Deals
    2. Performance Linked Pay
  4. Trainings
    1. Product knowledge enhancement
    2. Addressing EQ
    3. Addressing shortcomings
  5. Activities (Addressing relationships/ team work)
    1. Charitable Events
    2. Competitions
    3. Learning Skill
    4. Sales Conferences
    5. Short Outings
    6. Team Fitness Tracking

In order to drive extrinsic motivation for your sales employees, you could follow these examples:

  1. Rewarding sales employees for driving extra sales
  2. Rewarding them if they referred a sales employee (boosting Employee Referral)
  3. Rewarding the sales employees if they boost performance of the team. (Eg: mentoring other sales juniors.)
  4. Rewarding the sales employees for starting a new initiative within the organization.

Final Thought

To move the self fulfilling prophecy for all the sales employees in a positive direction, you need to make your sales employees are willing to go the extra mile.  Sales employees who aren’t motivated won’t suddenly become top performers if you offer them Rs. 1,000 cash. Find the thing that will make your sales employees tick, and the ones who have the self-discipline and inner talent to strive for real empowerment will shine.

Definition by Author Jeff Nevid
Research article by Thomas Steenburgh
Research done by Leadership Central