5 Tips to Motivate Your Sales Team

Business guru Zig Ziglar once said, “Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission.” When you think about your sales team, do you all have the same mission? Or are some of your people wandering from your sales direction? There is one factor that decides mission: motivation. Motivating your sales team is the key to any kind of success, but it’s also the key to keeping a team together. When morale is lacking, unhappy employees affect everything, including your bottom line. Building a solid foundation with your people is important, and your employees know that they’re there to work, but that foundation will crumble if you don’t take steps to ensure that your people enjoy coming in every day. Every sales manager is always looking for ways to increase motivation – here are 5 tips you can use to help your outstanding people:


It seems crude, but cold, hard cash has always been and will always be a fantastic motivator for any salesperson. Many sales teams hold contests, both for individuals and for teams. You can set goals to fit your business, such as the amount of product sold, the total sales in dollars or the number of new accounts opened. But here’s a thought: Everyone is used to a system that rewards the top sales associate or the most successful agent, but you can mix things up by using a different goal or attaining a different standard. For example, Dan McGraw, founder and CEO of Fuelzee, said that, even though it’s an odd concept, one of the most successful ways his company learned about motivation was by rewarding the sales team for “no’s.”

“Every time someone got a no, we tracked it in our system, and the person with the most no’s received a $100 gift card every week,” McGraw said. “This might sound crazy, but you get a lot of no’s when doing sales. The more no’s you get, the closer you are to getting a yes. The prize of getting a yes is way larger than $100, so you still wanted to get there. This nearly doubled our outbound calls and motivated the whole team.”



We aren’t kids anymore, but every adult still longs to have fun in their daily routine, and when you’re doing a job like sales, ‘fun’ isn’t always the first adjective that comes to mind. For some, having fun or getting in a little friendly competition is a better motivator than money. Games can be a great option, especially if there are prizes involved. You can do something low-key, like have board games set up for breaks or lunch times, or go big and plan an Office Olympics competition. You can take advantage of national sporting events, like the Super Bowl or NBA Finals, and create a team-oriented atmosphere where the winners get something big.

If you don’t have one set up already, you can create a rewards system and use that in things like a raffle, office bingo, or a scavenger hunt. If you have employees who are gamers, you can bring in a gaming system and create a competition bracket, rewarding the winner with the gaming system as their prize. Some offices take advantage of Employee Appreciation Day, and plan an entire day of activities for their employees. It may seem strange, but think about what you enjoyed as a kid – like something at school or summer camp – and modify it for your adult employees. They may be awkward at first, but everyone will get into a game if you give them some time.


Everyone likes perks. If you’re a credit card holder, you want the cash back rewards. You will frequent your favorite fast-food establishment even more if you get a free drink or meal for coming in so many times. Perks can be the best incentive for your employees, especially if you’re consistent with them. Common rewards for meeting sales goals are always appealing, like taking a long lunch, getting to leave work an hour early, or getting a free meal. A lot of sales teams set goals weekly, monthly and/or quarterly, and having better perks for bigger goals is a great motivator. Some big perks could be a full day off of work, garnering a favor from the boss (within reason), or rewarding a team with a movie day.

While what you have as perks is important, how you reward them is just as important. Show appreciation for all of the positive movements forward, whether small or big. Also, giving public compliments and praise is sometimes all a person needs to keep doing well. And sometimes, the best perk is simply saying thank you – you may never know what your employees are going through, but if they know you’re thankful for them, it will improve their performance.


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Whether it’s a free trip for a long-standing employee, a company retreat or team building getaway, or hosting a game night with a local sports team, experiences away from the office can have a lasting impact on the morale of your team. It is true that, in recent history, studies have shown that most employees don’t particularly enjoy team building activities, but if you look at studies done over a longer span of time (like 60 years of research), there are obvious positive and measurable effects that team building has on team performance.

Most things that your staff would consider ‘experiences’ could fall under the Perks category, but if your company has the means, take it a step further – if you’re giving a trip to one employee, give one to every employee who has worked that same amount of time (say 15 years), regardless of their performance record. If you are focused on having a successful team atmosphere, take the time to plan the best team building experience for your teams, not a generalized getaway or retreat. And if an outing is a reward, then cover all of the expenses, not just food or drinks. While big gestures are good, the real satisfaction for your employees is in the details.  


For some of your workforce, the only way they will feel motivated or inspired is by being encouraged to focus on furthering their career or training. Learning is their motivator, so providing quality opportunities for them to grow in their field will make them feel truly appreciated, especially if you offer incentives for developing certain skills or acquiring certain certifications or accreditations.

Getting to attend a highly sought-after networking seminar, for instance, could be a great option for a sales team. Having the opportunity to get some one-on-one time with a higher level executive could prove beneficial for someone trying to move up the ladder in their career, or even cultivating a mentor/mentee relationship would be the highest compliment to one or more of your employees.

Knowing what your team needs is imperative to your cumulative success. By taking the time to truly show your appreciation, your example can create an inspirational ripple effect that can motivate your sales team and positively affect your business for years to come!


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