Motivation and Sales Performance

Poor sales performance is often mistaken for a motivational issue.  A fine line exists between the two and unless you are an astute manager, you are going to miss the mark. image11

We first need to understand 5 myths of motivation. These are generally agreed upon as being the biggest culprits.

  1. Money as a motivator –if, as a manager, you believe this sits atop the list of motivators, seriously consider a refresher course in motivational management. Paying someone a hefty bonus will get the job done– but only short-term. This will be short-lived as the motivation wears off. Within itself, money has no sustaining power.
  2. Some people cannot be motivated –this unfortunately is a very common belief. Everyone, let me say it again, EVERYONE can be, and is motivated by something. What motivates one person does not necessarily motivate others. It is the manager’s job to know what motivates his team on an individual basis. As a manager, you need to match the motivators with the job responsibilities.
  3. People are happy and grateful to work here –not everyone is happy to work for your company and not everyone is grateful to be there. Assuming this attitude, as a manager, will just about guarantee you will lose your top [sales] talent. Non-engagement management usually accompanies this myth. You have to challenge, recognize and reward your team. The only way to be effective is by engaging your employees one-on-one.
  4. Believing you can motivate –no, no, no, you cannot and never will be able to motivate anyone, and neither can I. They must motivate themselves. Managers must find the factor(s) of motivation for each sales member as well as the environment that will enable employees to motivate themselves.
  5. Fear and intimidation motivate –for about 2 seconds! Beyond that, sales people begin to search for other positions. Unbelievably, some still manage by this course of action. Fear tears down any bridge of trust and cooperation between you and your team. It is a short-term compliance mechanism that breeds resentment. When you need to count on your sales team they will not be there for you!

Next are three perspectives (theories) on motivation directly related to employee performance. There are others, but I feel these to be most relevant. image12

  1. Expectancy theory suggests people are motivated to perform if they believe that their effort will result in high performance, that this performance will be highly rewarded.
  2. Equity theory is based on how fairly an employee perceives they are rewarded according to their contribution. If they are rewarded equally as compared to their fellow peers, then they judge they are being treated equally.
  3. Reinforcement perspective focuses on behavior that results in rewarding consequences, good and bad. There are several sub-categories that include positive, avoidance and punishment. It is simply a comparison between behavior and consequences.

There is no single solution to motivation, as no single theory should ever be used, but rather a combination of motivational techniques as appropriate.

So what does this all mean when it comes to the performance of your sales team? Your team must have four elements in order to have a positive performance.

  1. Motivation to do the job
  2. Ability to do the job
  3. The tools and information needed to do the job
  4. Reinforcement that their effort is wanted, needed and expected

Hope this message helps managers to increase sales. I also hope it enlightens members of your team as to what you deal with on a daily basis. Agree, disagree? Contact Me or leave a comment. If you have a Twitter account it would be much appreciated if you would retweet this at the top of the article!

Happy Selling!

Ed Warner

10 thoughts on “Motivation and Sales Performance

  1. Ed, congratulations! I really enjoyed your article. It´s clear at least for me that many years of experience is necessary to write these words of wisdom. As we all know, Satisfaction is equal to Perception minus Expectation. Your article in few words teaches us how to work well with motivation setting the right expectation and creating a correct perception.

  2. A great read. You’ve condensed many books into your few paragraphs and should be mandatory for any new manager or manager that is struggling with turnover of his/her reps.

  3. Ed,This is very encouraging and i believe if all managers followed these tips ,the working environment will be condusive for all employees.

  4. Fabulous read! My previous employer would provide a full day of golf at a high-end course for meeting monthly goals…did I mention I don’t golf?

  5. ED, it’s really a very good sales article. If I can, let me ad just one comment. If you are sales manager, tell your salesteam that each of them are the best salesman,… not you!.Not only to motivate them, but also because you are a team manager, the lider to manage, motivate and make/help them to achieve their individual goals,… to achieve the sales dpt and company’s one. Don’t keep the best sales discounts, policies, for their customers,… for you or when you go with them. Manage slesman is to let them close the order at their custimers’ “table”….

  6. Thanks everyone for your comments.

    James you hit upon one item I must add to. “Keeping the best discounts, policies….” I have seen this done and highly disagree with the practice. The job of a manager is to coach and support each member, not play HERO!

    Ed Warner

  7. Brendan,

    The entire article is specific to sales. I’m not sure I fully understand your question. Yes, I would agree with you that the article does have widespread validity.

    Ed Warner

  8. Very good article.
    In my opinion, a manager MUST have people skill, integrity, and emotional intelligence. Without it, there will be no success. I worked for a highly esteemed company, and had four managers in 2 years. First one fired me for poor performance when my wife was diagnosed with cancer, so he was fired, second one had no people skill or integrity, but was highly competent in other areas, but he was also fired as he was the regional director and could only function if he had people skill. Third one questioned top managements decisions and ways of working, so he was fired, and then suddenly I had to report to top management, one of them, the son of the owner of the company (20000 employees), and the other one, the VP of the company. These guys had absolutely NO people skill, and no integrity. My direct boss, the owner’s son, kept telling that he didn’t understand why I was hired, and why I was here, and to do what? It was the VP who had hired me for a regional role. The VP kept giving me jobs, that the other boss didn’t approve of. Then one day I was going to attend a sales training course, but the owner’s son stopped it and said, sorry, we don’t want to invest in you, you have no track record….. I had just brought home the single biggest contract in the company’s history, and I told him that, where he answered, “good, we can be happy for 10min, and then we need to move on”… Then I mentioned to him, that they had just initiated training for another 2 people in the company, why couldn’t I go to my training, and besides, my former boss who had just been fired, had already signed it off… He answered, that everything that had been agreed with my former boss was no more… I knew the bell had rung, but I was amazed over this treatment. I later found out that I was fired due to politics. I had simply asked to many questions, and top management couldn’t face the music and the truth. one of my questions, was, as to why the company still sent people on training in EU, and travelled business class, while being in a recession, and having fired already some 4000 people? this was not a popular question to my boss, and I was fired a week later…
    This was just an example of bad management, but also how not to ask questions, etc… Be a soldier, and do what you are told. Don’t challenge management in any way. You are there to work and show what you can do, Not the other way around, and you should be grateful to be allowed to spend 10 hours a day working for a company who will kick you out at the first sight of trouble…

  9. Pingback: » Motivation and Sales Performance

Comments are closed.