The Science of Motivating Sales People: Part 1

Posted by James Pember on 6/5/14 1:33 PM

We've written a little bit about motivating sales people and practical ways you can do it here on this blog, but we've discussed very little about the science behind motivation, and motivating reps. In this post, we'll try delve a little deeper into the science behind motivating sales people. 

The trick to motivation is to find the intrinsic reward in our work and to enjoy it. 

Much has been written about sales motivation, and for years - it was believed by most sales leaders that commissions and cash were the key drivers of sales performance. However, alot of those theories have been debunked, perhaps most famously by author Daniel Pink in his book 'Drive: The surprising truth of what motivates us': 

‘The more prominent salary, perks, and benefits are in someone’s work life, the more they can inhibit creativity and unravel performance. As Edward Deci explained when organisations use rewards like money to motivate staff, “that’s when they’re most demotivating.” The better strategy is to get compensation right – and then get it out of sight. Effective organisations compensate people in amounts and in ways that allow individuals to mostly forget about compensation and instead focus on the work itself.

According to Pink, there are three fundamental factors which drive performance and internal motivation. 
  1. Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives
  2. Mastery – the urge to get better and better at something that matters
  3. Purpose – the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

For sales managers, these three factors must be top of mind when designing incentive programs and managing your people. Give them the responsibiltiy and automony to create their destiny, allow them to improve and master their craft - and make sure they feel as they are part of a bigger cause - always striving toward a common goal. 

In the next post, we'll go deeper into each of these three fundamentals and look at how you can optimise your sales processes for these. If you're interested in following the series - subscribe to the blog on the right hand side of your screen to make sure they hit your inbox instantly! 

Have you got feedback on how to motivate sales people? Experiences from your organisation? Please reach out in the comments below or on Twitter! 


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Topics: sales productivity, sales, tips for sales managers, sales management, sales competitions, motivating sales people, how to motivate sales team

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