March 29, 2004 – Keys to motivating a sales force

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth part in a series of articles that describes the Four Step Management Process. It discusses ways to motivate your sales force.

While money is always part of a salesperson’s motivation, recognition is often more important. But it’s important to recognize sales people individually and personally.
Find out what motivates each person on your sales force. Don’t just think you can motivate them with what motivates you. Each person is different. Each one’s motivator may be different.
A tool that will assist you in discovering the individual motivators for your sales staff is a “Job Motivational Factors” worksheet. Create this worksheet by listing various motivational factors on a sheet of paper. Include factors such as:

  • Having job security
  • Receiving special recognition
  • Making good money
  • Winning a contest
  • Having an opportunity for promotion and career growth
  • Feeling like I’m part of the team
  • Feeling good about working conditions
  • Possessing a job that keeps me interested
  • Working for someone who is fair
  • Feeling “in” on things
  • Knowing that I’m really doing a good job…feeling self-worth
  • Feeling in charge of my own career…having my own way of doing things

Have each salesperson read the list of motivators and place #1 next to the motivator that personally motivates them the most. Have them place #2 next to the second greatest motivator. Finally, have them place #3 next to the third greatest motivator. When completed, there should be only three entries marked on the page.
Study their responses. The results may surprise you.
Once you’ve established each salesperson’s motivational “hot buttons,” use them daily in your meetings and dealings with them.
For example if they chose “receiving special recognition” as one of their selections, make sure you congratulate them on each sale. Give out special awards. What matters most is not what the awards are for, but the fact that there are awards to be earned.
Make sure you budget for plenty of cash spiffs if making good money was a popular choice. Pay an extra percentage point or two on various sales. Be creative with your spiff programs.
Motivators change as life changes, so you need to constantly reassess your salespeople. Some people know they have to make a certain amount of money per month in order to pay their bills. So they’re motivated by money for the first three weeks or so each month. Then their motivation may change. Someone else may be motivated by being a part of a team. Then they decide to buy a house or start a family. Suddenly, money becomes the prime motivator.
You must understand what makes each salesperson, tick. Then you’ll have gone a long way toward being able to effectively direct them to get things done.
Use of Motivational Materials
Another good method for encouraging your salespeople is to use motivational materials. Positive reinforcement from you is important. But when you couple it with a motivational book or audio cassette, it can really help your salespeople develop and maintain the proper mental attitude.
Today, motivational materials abound. There are pamphlets, books, cassette tapes, video tapes, all manner of communicating strong motivational messages. Do some research on who the best motivators are in the sales field.
Be sure to always preview any such material before you give it to your salespeople. This is to ensure it contains information you want to communicate. Motivational books and cassettes are often available as free loans from your public library. Review them before you buy. psb

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