5 Innovative Approaches to Motivating Sales Teams

Motivation. It propels us to set and seek goals, both personally and professionally. Motivation drives self-development and commitment. Companies thrive when their employees feel motivated to dedicate the time, energy and work to ensure the company’s success. Leadership that recognizes and communicates its appreciation for their employees’ dedication fuels motivation even further.

To minimize the importance of motivation to an organization is a serious disservice and wastes an important opportunity. Positive motivation:

  • Improves performance levels
  • Helps indifferent or negative employees evolve their mindsets
  • Reduces turnover by creating a more dedicated, committed workforce
  • Encourages and supports individuals to improve themselves professionally
  • Empowers teams, which can foster adaptability, flexibility and creativity

Your messaging should include your commitment to — and investment in — your sales team. When messaging evolves so that we stop thinking like sellers and start thinking like buyers, it permeates into our marketing and sales assets. Embracing this transformational approach enables sales teams to feel good about company culture, processes and operations, and themselves — and that feeling manifests itself into a truly committed, motivated team.

Sales team managers, in particular, can champion excellence, motivating their salespeople to provide exceptional customer service, build strong client relationships, and win and close deals. In addition to the traditional bonuses and commissions salespeople earn for delivering strong results, these five approaches can benefit not just sales teams but the company as a whole.

Create a Positive Company Culture

Building camaraderie — a sense of community and belonging — goes far in creating an attractive company culture, ultimately trickling down to the sales team. Who takes care of the customer and drives the performance that creates shareholder value? Employees. While happy hours and lunch-n-learns are nice, we must cultivate a rich environment to encourage, empower and support sellers to fully immerse themselves at work. We should integrate “day jobs” with employees’ outside pursuits holistically and productively. This approach enriches peoples’ work lives — and lives in general.

Attract and Retain Sales Team Members

Once you’ve created a rich environment, you’re more likely to attract new sellers and retain them. And even though it may generate eye-rolling over enthusiasm, team-building activities do help to improve morale. Happier employees tend to stick around longer.

When groups have opportunities to interact naturally — formally or informally — they build skills and have fun. In fact, the LinkedIn Learning’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report found that 94% of employees would stay with their companies longer if the company focused on building a better learning environment.

According to a Robert Half company survey, people often leave their companies because they:

  • See limited opportunities for career growth (30%)
  • Experience job boredom (21%)
  • Don’t receive adequate compensation and benefits (20%)
  • Find themselves suffering under an excessive workload (12%)
  • Feel a lack of recognition (7%) or unhappiness with management (7%)

Sales leaders can combat these concerns by creating a formal retention strategy: check in with their sellers, regularly evaluate teams’ performances, discuss career development opportunities, benchmark compensation and benefits to ensure their market competitiveness, and celebrate individual and team wins.

Give People a Voice

Opinions matter. If you want to retain your sales force, give them a voice. Open leadership that values its employees’ insights cultivates more innovative ideas. Employees who know leadership values their thoughts experience improved job satisfaction — and that will boost the bottom line.

A leader’s job is to inspire trust and cultivate the best in their team. How? By establishing environments that encourage and support interactions which, in turn, lead to creativity and possibility. Companies that ignore their sellers’ voices lose out.

They lose out on knowledge and information sharing. They lose out on the connections that form among people with similar passions and interests. They lose out on employee engagement and loyalty. Giving your employees a voice invites them to help shape corporate values and culture and engenders trust between teams and their management.

Drive Diversity

How do you elevate employee engagement that propels high performance? By driving diversity. A rich culture with a diverse sales force encouraged to think outside the box is well-equipped to directly relate to their customers.

Companies that have deliberately moved away from the “good old boy” network to build diverse teams benefit from a deep range of perspectives, all well-equipped to help solve problems or troubleshoot.

Don’t mistake well-rounded teams as equal to well-rounded individuals. Leaders building their sales teams should look for people who play off each other’s strengths and shore up each other’s weaknesses.Take time to understand what motivates each team member, because it’s rarely a one-size-fits-all proposition.

Establish Career Paths and Career Growth for People

Today’s modern, agile workforce demands career pathing and career growth. The technology market sector is buoyant, alive and dynamic — and if companies don’t offer employees realistic opportunities to improve their professional competencies, they’ll go where they can grow those skills.

When employees see little room for advancement, they may feel they’ve got nothing to work toward. Create opportunities for employees to expand their experiences and position themselves for promotions, linking today’s projects to tomorrow’s career. During this process, show your teams where you think they’re headed — and develop strategies to help them get there, via regular appraisals and target-setting.

A caveat: Some salespeople have no interest in going “bigger” with their career growth. They thrive in environments that also support individual contributors because their passions lie in helping customers — not managing their own teams. Identify who prefers not to climb the corporate ladder before investing your time (and theirs) showing them how.

Sales teams can lose their motivation for any number of reasons, like delivery issues, poor product performance, seasonality and more. When that happens, addressing the lack of motivation quickly helps ensure sales don’t slump and that the team doesn’t fall beyond the point of no return or rescue. Try a more unique approach in lieu of the usual pep talk. Connect with a local charity and ask your team to repurpose their stellar sales skills, persuasive powers and relationship building skills to volunteer. Stepping away from the usual routine for a day can put everything into perspective and help each salesperson feel good about themselves.


  • Karry Kleeman

    Karry Kleeman is Chief Revenue Officer of LogicGate, providers of Risk Cloud, an agile GRC process automation platform that enhances enterprise governance, risk and compliance programs. Prior to coming aboard, he was the CRO of SpringCM, a cloud-based document and contract management platform that was acquired by e-signature market leader DocuSign in late 2018.

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