Sales Motivation Is Dumb

Google “sales motivation” and you’ll get unlimited articles that sound like “The 7 Paths to Sales Motivation”.

Isn’t that nice?

Just follow 7 easy steps and you’ll have the secret to ensuring heightened sales. If sales start to slip, all you need to do is put your sales motivation cap back on. Toss out a few encouraging platitudes and announce a new short term incentive program. Then you’ll be back to superhero sales manager status, right?

Sadly, life doesn’t work like that.

The whole idea of sales motivation is flawed. Imagine a great golfer going from gifted amateur to consummate professional. Do you think the coach has to cajole him to practice? Does his daddy need to have a talk to remind him why it is important to practice? Does his mommy need to offer him an extra serving of dessert if he would just spend a few more minutes on the putting green? No, of course not!

So how is expecting your sales team to need encouraging words and short term rewards any different? They are professionals who thrive on the competition of sales. Do you really think a pep talk is going to suddenly change everything?

Real sales motivation, is long term and intrinsic. It’s not short term and extrinsic. If you want motivated sales people it has to come from within and be an everyday thing. It also needs to be a part of your company and sales culture.

For sales people, motivation comes from reflecting back the best things they believe about themselves. This means being able to act responsibly when given independence and autonomy. It comes from improving and demonstrating their expertise in their chosen industry. Sales motivation comes from being able to contribute to the lives of their family, their company and their clients.

To develop intrinsic sales motivation sales people need to see the impact of their successes. This is where sales managers can motivate and encourage. They can show how the sales person’s contributions impact the company, and directly impact the lives of the people in it.

So sales managers, forget the pep talks and gimmicky bonuses. Imagine the kind of sales people that you want in your company and build daily action around those values. Don’t dangle a carrot or paraphrase inspirational movies and expect everything to turn out ok.

Instead, promote a sales culture that celebrates people who add to their industry expertise. Quietly cheer for the fellow who practices their sales craft. Recognize the sales person for their efforts; and demonstrate the impact those efforts on the rest of the company. Your sales team will thank you for it.

Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray is the Managing Director of Sales Higher. He knows any company can THRIVE with enough qualified sales leads. So he’s spent the last decade helping companies meet engaged prospects and win new deals.

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