4 Dimensions of Sales Motivation

One of the most common questions we hear from sales managers is how to motivate their sales teams. Sales motivation can be a complex and difficult challenge!

Have you ever noticed that some salespeople don’t seem to need any pushing from their managers? They come in early, stay late, and are always willing to make a difficult phone call or attend an event. When they run into a challenge, they turn it up a notch and push right through.

Then there are other salespeople who seem to need their managers to help them stay on track. Sometimes they are more easily distracted or lose focus. When things go wrong, they can often get stuck and need help moving forward.

What causes this? Is that second type just bad at selling? Since every sales team will inevitably have a mix of personalities, how should managers respond? How can managers motivate their sales teams?

We’ve identified four dimensions of sales motivation that may help you understand the different types of motivational drivers on your team, as well as how to best work with each team member to increase sales performance.

The 4 Dimensions

  1. Internal Motivation

Salespeople that are intrinsically (or internally) motivated are driven to achieve their goals for personal satisfaction. They fall into the first group of people I mentioned above (those that don’t seem to need much of a push from their sales managers). Internally motivated people tend to be very self-motivated and are often able to work themselves out of a rut or problem.

  1. External Motivation

Extrinsic (or external) motivation involves an outside driving force pushing someone to achieve goals. External motivation is sometimes easier to understand and control, but it is inherently less powerful than internal motivation.

Motivational Direction – Positive vs. Negative

In life, we all move toward pleasure and away from pain. If a reward (potential pleasure) is great enough, we’ll work toward it. On the other hand, if a punishment (potential pain) is great enough, we’ll work to get away from it.

While we’re all motivated by both of these forces, when it comes to sales many people have a preference for one or the other. These preferences are independent of intrinsic or extrinsic motivation.

  1. Positive Motivation

An internally motivated person might have a strong drive to be successful in order to achieve personal satisfaction and feel that she’s achieved her potential. That’s a positive (toward) motivation.

  1. Negative Motivation

Another internally motivated person might have an underlying fear of failure. This might be an internal driver that’s followed him his entire life, an example of negative (away) motivation.

Externally motivated people might be motivated by commissions, bonuses, and recognitions (positive) or by deadlines, problems, and potential consequences (negative).

One of the easiest ways to identify someone’s motivational direction is to ask them to describe a goal. What kind of words do they use? Do they talk about what they want or do they default to a list of things they don’t want?

Driving Sales Motivation

So how can you as a manager motivate your sales team? You probably have a mix of all four dimensions, and what works for one won’t work for others.

There are many ways to motivate based on personality and motivational type—so many in fact that we decided to write an eBook about it! Our eBook will be available on our free resources page next week. In the meantime, here are a few posts about motivation to get you started:

If you’re interested in new ideas to help motivate your team, you may also enjoy our Free WorkSheet on Driving Sales Performance through MBO (Management by Objective) Compensation.Drive Sales Performance through MBO Compensation

Thanks to flickr user istolethetv for the great image!

By | 2017-07-26T17:14:24+00:00 September 1st, 2015|Sales Leaders, Sales Success|0 Comments

About the Author:

Elizabeth is CFS’s Operations Officer and Senior Advisor and is the Product Manager for the Criteria for Success Sales PlayBook. She writes about sales leadership, management, teamwork, motivation, and process based on her work with CFS’s clients. Elizabeth also hosts the CFS roundtable discussion episodes of the Let’s Talk Sales podcast.

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