Modern sales teams are struggling with motivation. Gartner recently reported that approximately 89% of sellers are experiencing burnout. This is a significant issue, since sales teams are responsible for a significant amount of company revenue.
There are many factors that contribute to burnout. One way to address it is by finding what motivates your sales team. This can be challenging, and might vary depending on your team. After all, each salesperson is a unique individual with different sources of energy and motivation.
This means that when motivating your team, it’s important to consider their individual needs and specific areas where they feel burnout. Facilitating conversations with your sales team is a great first step, since it can open the door to communication and help your team feel comfortable bringing important matters to your attention.
Here are seven key methods that will help them maximize performance and productivity.
How To Motivate Your Sales Team
1. Find a Compensation Plan That Works
One of the most motivating aspects of any job is the compensation received. Sales teams aren’t any different. It’s critical to make sure you’re providing effective financial incentives for your team to thrive in their role.
Harvard Business Review (HBR) identifies three primary means of paying your sales team:
- Base salary: A set hourly or annual rate of pay.
- Commission only: The sales team’s income is based solely on their performance
- Combination: A set rate plus additional incentives based on performance
Compensation models that are entirely commission-based might work for some teams, since they motivate them to make more sales to make more money. Other salespeople might prefer the stability of a regular salary, or a base salary plus commission. For these employees, a commission structure might be demotivating, especially during periods of time where sales aren’t as strong.
Similarly, capped commissions might decrease high performers’ incentives. In that situation, there’s no incentive to sell more than they have to.
Ultimately, it’s important to find what works best for your team and company alike.
2. Improve Wellbeing
It’s a common practice among leaders to increase pressure on the sales team when quotas aren’t being met. According to HBR, additional stress on sales teams actually decreases performance, since anxiety isn’t good for motivation.
According to the State of Mental Health in Sales Report, 63% of salespeople struggled with their mental health in 2022, up from 58% in 2021. The report identifies five primary needs sales teams have that aren’t being met which are contributing to negative wellbeing:
- Vulnerability: The confidence to express themselves and admit mistakes without fear or shame
- Boundaries: The ability to set clear boundaries in regards to work and relationships with colleagues
- Clear career path: Salespeople knowing their projected career trajectory
- Achieving sales targets: When salespeople don’t meet their goals, their mental health is likely to decrease
- Meaningful work: Alignment with company values and feeling like they’re making a positive difference
In addition to these factors, working on a sales team often entails a significant amount of rejection. Depending on their role and their specific responsibilities, it can be easy for salespeople to burn out after a day of rejected cold calls.
Focusing on improving your team’s wellbeing can help. The report also highlights the fact that—of salespeople who report positive mental wellbeing—approximately 77% rate their performance as very good or excellent. Conversely, only 29% of those with poor mental health say the same about their performance.
Adequately addressing your team’s mental health involves focusing on adjusting the company culture to become more psychologically safe. In the short-term, however, facilitating conversations about mental health can go a long way in improving your team’s wellbeing.
Our Terrarium Experience is hosted live by a wellness expert who will lead your team through an important discussion about workplace wellness. It’s a great way to give your team a break from the stress of the workday and engage in important conversations that have long-term positive impacts.
3. Increase Psychological Safety
As the State of Mental Health in Sales Report highlighted, vulnerability is one of the primary unmet needs of sales teams. Psychological safety—the ability to speak up in an organization without fear of punishment or humiliation—is an important way to improve wellbeing and overall team motivation.
This can help your team feel comfortable:
- Expressing unmet needs
- Suggesting innovative ideas
- Admitting when they need help
- Letting you know when they’ve made mistakes
Our Psychological Safety team journey, created in collaboration with Harvard Business School’s Amy Edmonson, can help dramatically improve your team’s sense of psychological safety.
4. Prioritize Coaching for Performance Improvement
Confidence is key to a successful sales experience. If your team isn’t confident, they’re unlikely to perform as well, which will likely lead to decreased levels of motivation. Part of motivating your sales team, therefore, is working to boost their confidence and sales proficiency.
This process entails much more than simply writing a script and teaching salespeople how to say it—the best salespeople identify and address customers’ needs instead of simply reciting a script to them.
This requires training from leadership to ensure that your team is effective at what they do. A great way to facilitate this training is leveraging one of Teamraderie’s virtual experiences—interactive live workshops intended to improve desired outcomes.
5. Show Appreciation and Recognition
Gallup and Workhuman recently partnered to produce an employee recognition survey. According to this report, approximately 81% of leaders don’t make recognition a priority in the workplace.
The survey highlights that when employees feel appreciated for their work, they’re 56% less likely to be actively or passively seeking a new job. They also report experiencing:
- A stronger sense of engagement
- Increased loyalty to their company
- Increased likelihood of feeling like their company is a great place to work
- A stronger sense of inclusion and belonging
- Increased likelihood of feeling like they can grow at their company
The same is true for sales teams. Recognition can go a long way in boosting motivation and wellbeing.
This appreciation can come in the form of:
- Financial appreciation: Bonuses, incentives for meeting quotas, etc.
- Verbal appreciation: Recognition of individual strengths and appreciation of each employee
According to HBR, employees need both recognition and appreciation. It’s important to reward strong performance, but it’s equally critical to appreciate your employees’ inherent value.
Teamraderie’s Employee Appreciation experience is an excellent way to ensure that each team member feels valued by both their leadership and coworkers. In this live workshop, your team will be given the opportunity to discuss and receive positive feedback from participants. This can improve your team’s empathy as well as overall sense of inclusion and belonging,
6. Have a Clear Career Development Roadmap
The State of Mental Health in Sales Report highlighted the fact that teams need clarity and direction in their long-term career path. It’s important to communicate this with your team to help them remain motivated in their individual role.
This can also help reduce turnover, since if your employees know how their career can grow with your company long-term, they’re more likely to stay with you.
Make sure to clearly communicate the following:
- What are some ways their current role will develop skills that will benefit their individual career in or outside your company?
- What internal opportunities for growth does your company offer, either lateral or horizontal?
- How will compensation in their current role adjust as they progress in your organization?
- Is there a clear path to a leadership or management role if they stay with your company?
One way to help your employees feel valued and motivated is to invest in them. Helping them learn a new soft skill, for example, can show them that you’re committed to their individual career development whether or not it’s with your company. It also benefits your organization by growing their skill set while they’re in their current role.
Our Adaptation Through Improvisation experience is an excellent way to help your team bond, as well as learning skills that benefit both your team and your individual employees. This live experience, led by jazz musician and management professor Frank Barrett, will help your team learn how to adapt together and improve your creative problem solving skills.
7. Align Your Team With Company Values
It’s incredibly demotivating for salespeople to feel like their hard work isn’t making a meaningful difference. Worse—salespeople might be confronted with an unhappy customer who claims the product or service impacted their life negatively.
It’s important for your team to understand the value of their work—not just to the company, but to the real world.
The first step to helping your employees understand the impact of their work is ensuring that your products or services make a positive difference. However, it’s equally important to effectively communicate this positive impact to your sales team. This will not only enable them to convey it to customers but also foster a sense of fulfillment in their work.
A great way to accomplish this is to help your leaders effectively communicate your team’s shared values to help your team improve. Our Values-Based Leadership experience, hosted by former Olympic medalist and American sports commentator Summer Sanders, helps managers align on shared values and help others perform better as a result.
Motivate Your Team During Your Next Sales Kickoff
Sales kickoffs (SKOs) are excellent opportunities to motivate your sales team. Whether in-person or remote, SKOs serve as excellent opportunities to show appreciation, build your team’s sense of belonging, and grow your skill set.
Since over 60% of salespeople want hands-on soft skills development and team building opportunities during their SKO, Teamraderie’s extensive list of experiences is perfect for your next SKO.
If you’d like to supercharge your next SKO event, consider taking our brief quiz to learn which experience is perfect for your team. In the meantime, consider checking out our list of 60+ outcomes-based experiences to find the perfect fit for your sales team.