Motivating a Sales Team

Businessman talking in meeting
••• Image Source RF/Cadalpe/Image Source

Salespeople are most likely to be motivated by two things: money and recognition. The average salesperson is highly competitive, so having their triumphs recognized in front of their peers is satisfying. And a nice cash bonus will always be welcome, especially when it's tied to a particular success.


Of the two, rewarding performance with money is the obvious (and easy) solution. When you sit down with your salespeople and set their quotas, you can set a “bonus” level: for example, if they exceed their quota by 15% then they get an extra 10% commission over and above the standard amount.

But sometimes you just won't have the budget to provide enough cash to motivate your team. That's when recognition becomes a useful tool.


For starters, you can post everyone's sales numbers for the month on a white board or bulletin board in the common area and update them every day or two. Publicizing your team's numbers acts as both the carrot and the stick: the most successful salesperson of the month can gloat over their numbers in comparison with the rest of the team, and the less successful ones will be extra motivated to dig up some more sales.

You can have a plaque or trophy that goes to the person with the best performance for the month. Then, next month, they have to hand it over to the new top performer. This also works well with perks like a reserved parking space, or a special chair (as throne-like as possible!).

Gift Cards

If you have a little more money to spend on your team, you can throw in a free meal for the top performer or performers on your team.

This works best if you give the winners a chance to pick the restaurant, rather than pick it for them. Gift cards of all kinds are a bit more thoughtful than pure cash and almost as flexible.

You can also bring up successes at your team meetings. If you know that Joe brought in a huge new client last week, then give Joe a chance to describe his victory in front of everyone.

A public show of support will make victory all the sweeter... and also remind your team that you appreciate their work.

While you're motivating the top performers, don't forget to keep an eye on the less successful salespeople. Everyone has a bad month now and then. But if the same one or two people are coming in last every month, there's a problem. Have a talk with these employees and see if they can explain why they're struggling. It could be that they need more training, or perhaps they need to switch to a new sales strategy. In any event, someone who is failing to make their numbers will need some support from you to help them succeed.