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How do you motivate sales reps? First things first, you need to let go of the idea that you can motivate anyone.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the best, most fantastic sales manager in the entire world, you cannot motivate another human being to do anything-they can only do so themselves. If you have a pet, a small child or a particularly willful houseplant at home, you will know that this counts for living entities outside of the workplace as well. It’s sad, but it’s true. You just need to try and keep a fancy Woolies orchid alive for more than a month to know what we mean.

All kidding aside, the best thing you can do in a bid to motivate sales reps is to tap into the fuel that fires their internal motivation. There are certain universal things that motivate people in the sales space, and if you manage to find the sweet spot for each of the reps in your sales channel, you’ll be well on your way to paving the way for operational success. Here are five things that motivate sales reps more than money.

Wait, why not money? Surely money is the ultimate dangling carrot? Who doesn’t love money?! Here’s the thing-top sales performers are used to a lot of cash, so they have tapped out of that reward system. Throwing more money at them will not make a difference in their motivation. In the same vein, underperforming sales reps have always had the monetary factor as a dangling carrot, yet somehow still didn’t rise to expectations. In both cases, their inner spark needs to be ignited in a different way.

Which brings us back to those five things that tap into intrinsic motivation more than money, namely:

1. Challenges and opportunities

Unique challenges and opportunities are a great way to play into a person’s innate drive to thrive. When a sales rep is given a particular challenge to fulfil (e.g. rope in a particularly coveted client that nobody else has managed to land, or upsell an existing client on a particular product), it can serve as great motivation if they have a natural inclination to be competitive. This will not be the case for every person on your team, but when you pay enough attention to their individual behaviour, personality, lifestyle and ambitions, you will be able to tell who stands to benefit from this particular approach.

2. Being part of the winning team

On the other hand, certain personalities are highly motivated by the notion of being part of the winning team. These fine folks are those lovely team players all businesses look out for when they’re hiring sales personnel. While lone rangers and one-man wolf packs thrive when presented with challenges and the opportunity to better themselves, team players take satisfaction from a company’s overall success. If this is the case among your sales personnel, it helps to drive the winning team narrative to boost morale and drive performance.

3. Trust in their abilities

As a sales manager, it can be tempting to keep tabs on everything your reps are doing. However, sometimes a slight slackening of the reins may be more effective at motivating improved performance. When a rep feels that they are trusted to make their own decisions and act in the best interests of the company, this increased independence and freedom can serve to empower and inspire. This may mean that you need to invest in some ongoing training and development, but it will definitely be worth it in the long run.

4. Visible recognition for their achievements

Never underestimate the power of public recognition for a job well done. The human brain thrives on feelings of security and attachment and there is nothing like being singled out for recognition from their peers to boost a sales rep’s reputation among their fellow workers and make them feel appreciated for their efforts. Recognition can take many forms-it can be a real-time call out during a meeting or general assembly, an email, or even an intranet blast. Find a way to make it work for your team and be sure to be timeous in dishing out the praise-the more fresh the achievement, the more rewarding the recognition.

5. Tailor-made rewards

When it comes to rewards, the cookie-cutter approach rarely works. Sure, everyone can use a PnP gift card, but you need to mix it up. Companies that offer their sales people a choice of rewards, e.g. travel opportunities, services, experiences, digital vouchers, retail cards and merchandise from a variety of outlets, have a significantly higher return on investment than those who go with the one-size-fits-all approach.

Need some tips on choosing rewards? Read, The 7 Fundamentals of getting rewards right

In the end, you have to think about it this way-which do you think would motivate a person more: the opportunity to spend a week in a five-star resort in Bali, or some extra money at the end of the month? Which of those options gets your heart racing? We bet you can already taste the pina colada at the complimentary swim-up bar in the shade of gently swaying palm trees, or feel the weight on hot stones on your back as a talented therapist massages your feet while you overlook the ocean on the deck of your luxurious cabana. Ah, bliss.

There you have it-a few very important reasons to look beyond monetary incentives to embrace recognition and rewards to motivate sales reps in 2020 and beyond. Feel free to get in touch with the GET Rewards team. As a single-source supplier, we take great pride in providing a comprehensive range of rewards through cost-effective channels to motivate sales reps and supercharge your business outcomes from the inside out.


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