The Vital Role of Motivation and Accountability on Your Sales Team

Recognizing reps for big wins will not only make that person’s day but also improve company culture.

The Vital Role of Motivation and Accountability on Your Sales Team

Doesn’t it feel like June 2020 was just yesterday? In addition to baking bread and binge-watching “Tiger King,” working from home has become a new normal for quarantine life. There can be many distractions while working remotely, including dogs barking and kids running around, but one positive is not having a commute to and from the office. Gaining more time in the day has become a bright spot in a relatively dark year.

For many sales leaders, the words “motivation” and “accountability” have become synonymous with the reality of working from home. Many employees can feel isolated and overwhelmed, resulting in a lack of motivation. Plus, sales leadership can no longer see their team working in the office and hold them accountable, which can breed uncertainty around people’s effort. These factors have left sales leaders to wrestle with the challenges of accountability and motivation in the work-from-home environment.

During any time, but especially this past year, having motivated reps who are held accountable is crucial to a sales team’s success. Here are some strategies and tools sales leaders have used to help their reps stay on track:

Revamp Company Culture

A survey by online career database PayScale said a sales account manager was the second most stressful job and nearly two-thirds of the respondents rated the role as “highly stressful.” This stress is largely due to the salary. Many companies offer a base salary, but almost all roles include a “not guaranteed commission” that makes up roughly 50% of the total compensation. Closing sales deals is already stressful, but when your salary is largely dependent on your sales numbers, stress is dramatically enhanced. Although it shouldn’t be, salary is often the only thing holding reps accountable.

For sales reps, money and recognition are usually motivators to start down this career path. Winning is an essential part of sales, and recognizing reps for big wins will not only make that person’s day but also improve company culture. Even small wins like setting up a demo request or sending a pricing sheet over should be celebrated, and recognition doesn’t have to be grand or expensive. Something as simple as a 1:1 note or a shoutout on the larger team’s Slack channel can make a huge difference.

For these small victories to be achieved, sales reps must know what early and late-funnel KPIs they should be working towards. This is where sales leaders can give reps the formula needed to hit their quota for the quarter. How many meetings does it take to convert an opportunity? How many opportunities from closed to won? It’s hard to hold a team accountable when there isn’t clarity on what needs to be done. It’s important for leadership to create clear expectations from beginning to end, for everyone involved. Those expectations allow reps to continuously set and track goals, creating a culture of accountability that can boost the team’s productivity and motivation. Many of these sales reps have used technology in their personal lives like a Fitbit or Peloton that gives real-time accountability to their activities. Why not provide that at work?

Improve Employees’ Individual Performance

Having everyone on the sales team aligned towards a common goal does two things: help individual sales reps stay on task with their responsibilities and help them stay accountable for reaching those overarching company objectives. Showing reps how their work fits into the larger picture can also create a sense of pride and ownership in the work they do.

Sales tracking allows sales leaders to measure and have an eye on every rep’s contribution to established big-picture goals. Being able to see exactly where they stand allows reps to see their targets and areas of improvement, helping the team become more motivated and productive. Using sales gamification and competitions can also keep sales fun — something everyone needs more of during the pandemic — and motivate reps to hit both their individual and organizational goals.

Boost the Company’s Overall Success

When teams have processes in place that hold reps accountable and motivated, this betters not only the sales team but the whole company in general. Employees who work in an environment of accountability and motivation feel inspired to exceed expectations and goals, which will improve the company’s performance.

Many companies can beat out their competitors when their employees are productive and engaged. A recent Gallup survey found that highly engaged teams result in 21% greater profitability, a feat that is especially difficult when many companies are facing financial setbacks. If employees have low morale and productivity then their company’s performance will directly suffer. When it comes to sales teams, leaders should empower their reps and allow them to create solutions for themselves and the team.

Accountability can mean different things to different people. From top to bottom, everyone in a company, including sales leaders, should be held accountable. Sales coaching, specifically, allows sales leaders to help reps reach their goals and provide feedback to make sure they are staying motivated and growing professionally. Many companies have added sales coaching to their assets, but some are not using it to the full potential. If sales coaching doesn’t have proper documentation or is not tied to metrics, then sales leaders and reps are not fully accountable. If a sales leader doesn’t take sales coaching seriously, it will create a snowball effect and their reps will do the same. Regular, consistent sales coaching must not only happen but be documented and followed through time after time. Companies that establish accountability throughout every level and department will see a boost in production and profitability.

2020 has passed by, and for most industries it looks like remote working isn’t going anywhere. A year later, companies are still adjusting to the challenges of working from home. Finding out how to keep employees motivated and accountable should be their top priority. By using some of the sales strategy and tools mentioned above, your sales reps will be more successful and happy, and your customers will be more satisfied.


  • Mark McWatters

    Mark McWatters is the vice president of sales at Ambition, a leading gamification and coaching platform that helps metric-driven organizations create an ecosystem of accountability and encouragement. He loves all things sales, but only if it’s done with the prospect in mind, not commission.

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