How to Motivate your Reps (Tips from the State of Sales Performance Survey)

How do you ensure you’re maximizing your sales team’s potential? How do you inspire your team to go above and beyond what they think is possible?

The answers may surprise you.

According to our first-ever State of Sales Performance Survey, in partnership with Ambition, Gong, AA-ISP, Vidyard, and Factor 8, the key is modern sales performance management.

This may sound complicated, but it’s not.

Modern sales performance management is simply how the top sales organizations today are doing things. All it really means is that you’re using data to unlock and maximize the potential of your team, and using it to judge how you stack up to the competition.

And the State of Sales Performance Survey has the data you need to start making powerful, strategic changes to your org right now!

Keep reading to learn the top 5 motivators, as uncovered by the survey. you can use to inspire your team today.

First, A Deeper Look at Sales Performance

When evaluating sales performance, you’ve got to start by asking yourself, “Why do my reps come into work every day?” and “What do they want out of working here?”

“Because we pay them,” I hear you say. “Silly question.”

But you’ve got to think beyond the obvious.

The obvious answer is that sales reps do their job because they want the salary or the bonuses. But that doesn’t explain why they chose to work with you and your organization.

The fact is, most of your employees show up and sell for the same reason you do. They want their career to succeed and grow, and they see your company as a place to do that.

They show up and sell because they want the company to succeed — because if the company succeeds, they succeed.

Why You Need to Trust Your Team

According to the survey, you and your reps rate your performance based largely on the same KPI’s, albeit on slightly different scales. It’s clear that sales leaders and reps prioritize things very similarly.

Everyone wants the same thing: increased revenue. Which means you don’t have to coerce your reps into working for you.

You don’t have to trick them into doing what they should. They know what they need to do, and they know what numbers are important.

What you do need to do is help them stay motivated.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the top five things the survey uncovered that improve your reps’ sales performance:

  1. Transparency
  2. Recognition
  3. Contests
  4. Coaching
  5. Awards and Bonuses

Performance Booster #1: Transparency in the numbers.

One of the most common ways companies choose to motivate or incentivize sales reps are monetary bonuses, but guess what?

That’s largely wasted money.

Yes, cash incentives, bonuses, and competitions are nice, but they’re not the only thing your sales reps want.

In fact, according to this survey, only 10% of reps were motivated primarily by awards programs.

What are they motivated by? Information.

Like you, your reps want to see revenue numbers go up. But they can’t do that without data.

According to Scott Barker, Head of Partnerships here at Sales Hacker,

“Sellers want transparency across the entire revenue organization. Where is the team sitting for the month? Why did my quota go up? How long of a runway do we have if we aren’t hitting our numbers? As leaders, we need to take this to heart and make the numbers visible and easily accessible to all.”

In short, your sales reps want to know what the stakes are. They want to know how the company is doing and how their actions are affecting the bottom line.

If the company fails, they’re out of a job. If it succeeds, they hope to succeed and grow along with it.

Treat them like an integral member of the team, and they’ll fight for the company. When sales are down, they’ll reward you with creative solutions.

A modern sales team, backed up with data should be operating like a sniper team.

Your reps are your snipers. They take a shot, attempting to make a sale, but they need their spotter (the data) to tell them if they missed, by how much, how to adjust their aim. And if they do hit (make the sale), they need that spotter to help them acquire a new target faster and more effectively.

Bottom line, treat your reps like more than just a cog in the machine. Give them the data to do their job — and the freedom to act on it.

You’ll be amazed how such a simple change can affect your bottom line so much.

Performance Booster #2: Recognition

The second best thing that you can use to drive team success is public recognition. Over a quarter of reps said public recognition got them fired up to sell.

By publicly praising high performers, you cultivate a culture of success and give everyone a benchmark to strive towards. It’s why companies have celebrated the “employee of the month” for years.

A growing majority of sales workers are now millennials: More than half of the people polled said that at least 50% of their team is made up of millennials. Millennials want to feel valued. They want to feel like they’re making a difference.

This isn’t just a millennial thing, though. Humans are social creatures. We’re hard-wired to enjoy validation from our peers.

That being the case, it’s important to celebrate the wins — big ones and small ones alike.

If an employee has improved, or overcome an obstacle, praise them for that. Success, on every level, is something that should be put on a pedestal.

Too often, only the top performers get that validation. You need every one of your reps to feel like they are an important member of your team — even underperformers.

If you want loyalty in your sales team, there is no better way than publicly recognizing their success.

Performance Booster #3: Contests

Contests and competitions are one of the most popular tools used by companies, with 63% of companies saying they had run one in the last 6 months.

Contests can be a fantastic way to motivate your team. You can think of it as a strategic mix of public recognition and sales bonuses.

However, you don’t just want a contest for the sake of having a contest. You want contests with a purpose.

Build your contests around S.M.A.R.T. goals to create lasting change in your organization and team.

For instance, if your team is struggling with getting leads, you can create a contest centered around who gets the most leads, or better yet, identify the core problem.

Perhaps your team is struggling with writing compelling emails. Create a competition that rewards the best-written email or the email that gets the best response.

Now your competition isn’t just inspiring them. It’s helping to solve a problem in the long term.

Performance Booster #4: Coaching

Another important thing to motivating your employees — and something that is far too often overlooked — is coaching. 98% of reps asked in the survey said that they were more likely to stay at a company that offered a development program.


It’s simple. If the company shows they’re going to invest in them, they are more likely to invest in the company.

Remember, your team wants to feel like a valued and integral part of the team. So treat them that way.

All those millennials working as sales reps…

They want to learn skills that will carry with them throughout their career. If you’re not offering that kind of development, someone else will.

But just having coaching isn’t enough. You need good coaching.

Almost half of all reps rated their 1on1’s as a 6 or worse.

You need to have a clear plan. Don’t just wing it. Your coaching should be specific and unique to each individual in your team. Not everyone needs the same advice and teaching.

Your goal in a 1on1 is to help them do their job better. Figure out what they’re struggling with, what they need to improve, and what help they need to get there. Then enable them to do that.

You need effective, consistent coaching for your entire team. Don’t just focus on the top and bottom performers.

Performance Booster #5: Awards and Bonuses

The last tool you can use to motivate your team is awards and bonuses. These are most companies’ go to’s, but they shouldn’t be.

They do work, and having a special award or small bonuses along the way can go a long way towards encouraging that extra push through a tough quarter. That being said, after looking at all the other things that reps have said they’d rather have — like recognition — it makes more sense to save your money and focus on other incentives.

If you do use an awards program, get creative. It doesn’t make sense to shell out a ton of money for a prize when the purpose of the award was to boost sales in a difficult quarter.

You can come up with lots of fun and creative awards and prizes that don’t break the bank, but still inspire action. For instance lunch with the boss, better parking spots, gloating rights.

Money works to motivate, but it should never be your go-to.

Final Thoughts

To boost sales performance, you only need to give your reps what they want.

Trust them. Give them the information they need. Then sit back and watch your team turn into an unstoppable sales machine.

Access the full State of Sales Performance report here.

Max Altschuler is the General Partner of GTMfund. He previously founded Sales Hacker, a premier B2B sales media company, and scaled it to over 150,000 monthly visitors before its acquisition by At Outreach, Max served as VP of Marketing for four years. During that time, he built an incredible team that helped the company 3.5x ARR in under two years, while building and becoming the leader in the Sales Engagement Category. A recognized thought leader, Max has been featured in Forbes, Time, Inc, Harvard Business Review, and Quora. He is also the author of “Hacking Sales: The Playbook For Building A High Velocity Sales Machine,” published by Wiley.

Join Us Today

Insider access to the GTM network and the best minds in tech.

Join Us Today

Insider access to the GTM network and the best minds in tech.

Trending Now

You may also like...