One of the things that prompted us to talk about this today is that I am just continually amazed at the number of sales managers that have absolutely no clue as to what actually motivates their sales reps.

It’s really one of the most popular requests that we get at Sales Management Mastery is what motivate salespeople? In fact, in all the all line polls that we have done of sales manager, CEO’s, sales trainers, this comes up as the number on demand for anyone engaged in our surveys on line. Which is “how do you motivate salespeople?”

It’s a tricky thing to do, but it’s a lot simpler than you think. It is two things in one, it’s not easy, but it’s very simple.

We are going to give you a head start on how to do it, and how to make it real easy for you. One of the things that we have noticed is that throughout all of our consulting, throughout Sales Management Academy is that I am continually amazed and the number of sales managers that have absolutely no clue as to what actually motivates their sales reps. I probably shouldn’t be that surprised to the degree that this ignorance pervades even at the highest level of the sales management food chain. Meaning, not only do the sale managers not know what motivates the sales rep, but the Vice Presidents and higher ups typically don’t know either.

This is an easy thing to fix.

So that is what we are going to talk about here today.

Let me give you an example, not to long ago, when I was still in the corporate world, I was in yet another long, desperately unproductive waste of time, sales management meeting with the top sales brass at the company.

We were sitting around a conference room table brainstorming how we could all collectively get the sales force “more motivated” to produce more sales and possibly increase morale. Because the sales force had gotten into a lull and was in a de-motivated state.

At that point, sales force morale was particularly low due to a number of factors. Suffice it to say, sales rep at one particular division, which wasn’t mine thankfully, were leaving at a rapid rate, due to operational incompetence.

Seeing this disturbing trend, and really being fearful of it and potentially fearful for her job, the Senior Vice President of Sales called a meeting to come up with ideas. She was desperately trying to come up with an idea on how to motivate this bedraggled section of the sales force in one foul swoop, with one grand sweeping initiative.

Although I gave her a lot of credit for trying, if you’ve been a reader of the blog, you know that motivating your sales force can’t really happen in one foul swoop. But at least she was giving it the ole college try.

She was looking for ideas, and she said emphatically, let’s start recognizing everyone with emails and voicemails of their big achievements.

And better yet, let’s fill out a form whenever you sales people do something praiseworthy and then submit it to me and then I can send a group voicemail. She concluded what she said with, “after all, every sales manager likes to be praised publicly”.

The other sales managers in the room all agreed to this and praised the VP, stating that the loved the idea and were getting behind this

I just sat there in my chair, not saying a word. The VP noticed my silence at asked me why I wasn’t as enthusiastic as the others about this new initiative. Not wanting to be the only dissident, I finally started talking and explained to the sales team that out of the sales reps that I have reporting to me, only half of them enjoy or are motivated by public praise. I added that for most of my sales reps, private one-on-one praise is what really motivates them the most. A few of them told me outright that they hated public praising and felt that it was downright embarrassing, they don’t really like the spotlight. So half of my team did not like, or was not motivated by public praising.

She sat there in this stunned silence. She’s really enthusiastic and wanted to get things moving in the right direction. I relayed to her why and how I knew this. What I told her and other sales managers in the room was that I had just simply asked them. This brings up our point on motivation. A simple way to motivate, that we are going to talk about in the show.

If your sales reps are the lifeblood of your career and you rely on them to pay their commissions, and their effectiveness is what sustains you as well as advances your career, then why on earth wouldn’t you know exactly what motivates them and exactly how to motivate them?

So if you don’t know what motivates them, then how can you expect prompt them in the right direction? We all fall guilty of doing this, we all get caught up in the conference calls, the emails, the teleconferencing, the meetings, the administrative demands and all this stuff that bogs you down and keep you away from the number 1 most important thing. And that number 1 most important thing is to keep your sales people highly motivated and supercharged to go out there and sell for you.

So how do you do it?
How do you actually motivate sales people? And how do it you do it in a quick and easy way?
I am going to give you 10 questions that we go into depth in on at Sales Management Mastery Academy. But this is a great way to put a list together and go out there and ask them.

When you ask these questions, it doesn’t really matter how you do it.
What really matters is that you just go out and do it.

The way that I do it is that I’ll have these questions prepared, and at sales meetings, I’ll hand it out as a questionnaire or maybe I’ll email it.
I’ll have these prepared and at a sales meeting I’ll write these out on a piece of paper, and hand them out to your sales people.

We get a lot more in depth at Sales Management Academy and how to use this information to get the best out of your sales people.

Let’s get right into the 10 questions:

1. What drives you?
This is a basic question, chances are, you may or may not get the real answer here, but taken with all the other 9 questions you’ll get a rounded view of exactly what motivates your sales people.

2. What are the barriers standing in the way of your ultimate success?
Now these can be perceived barriers that they may think are standing in their way, they can be administrative or organizational barriers that are standing in their way. If it is a perceived or real barrier, it’s important for you to you to talk to your salespersons specifically. If you are doing this in a questionnaire, and if there is something that you are not clear on, or you need further clarification, then this warrants a sit down meeting with your sales person to go through it.

3. What are you shooting for in your current position?
This will give you a short to mid-term motivation as far as to where do they want to go? Do they just want to make money? Do they want to become a senior sales person? Do they want to get promoted to management? What is it in a short to medium term basis that they are shooting for in their current role?

4. How do you get paid?
Number one is what drives you; a lot of people will say commissions or money.
It clarifies that first answer. If they don’t know how they get paid in really specific terms, every nuance of your bonus and commission plan, then chances are they aren’t really motivated by money. So you might want to look back to question number one and further clarify. If you are so motivated by money, then how do you actually get paid? How are you going to make the most amount of money with our compensation program? Are you compensated on dollar volume versus units, market share versus market trend, what is it specifically? And how do you get paid?

5. Where do you see your career heading?
This is a dovetail to question number 3. Where do you see your career heading is probably a medium to longer term goal that they may have. This may include becoming a sales manager, or making more money or being the vice president of sales. Where do they really want to go as far as their career goes? You can help them get there in steering your conversations with them in order to facilitate that happening over time. This is a super-motivator.
You can use this in your daily interactions to draw the best out of them in order for them to achieve that goal in the medium to long term.

6. How do you like to be praised?
Do you like it publicly, privately, written, or verbal. In the story that we talked about, we went into that in a little more detail to clarify that.
Obviously very important to find out how they like to get praised.
Because if you doing it publicly and they don’t’ like publicly then you are not going to motivate them.

7. What is the most significant recognition that you have ever received?
Why was it so memorable?
This is obviously a very important one, because recognition is a super motivator of sale people and we go into this in detail inside the Academy inside the “Motivator Course”.
This is hugely important, because how do they want to be recognized?
Is it public praise? Is it by rankings? Is it by who gets the biggest commissions? Is it by voicemails being sent out that show exactly where everyone stands on a quarterly, or monthly or weekly basis?

8. What are you best at in sales?
You want to be able to harness their true talents.
What they think are their talents, you may not think are their talents. But you can compare and contrast how they perceive themselves. What am I best at closings? Am I best at presentations? Rapport building? Business savvy?
What is it that they feel that they are best at?
You can harness that to the best of your knowledge and ability motivating them all the way.

9. Tell me about your best boss.
Who was your best boss?
How did they get the best out of you?
This is going to give you the exact answer of how you should motivate them, because as a motivator of sales people, you do have to be flexible. Remember we are asking all of the questions because each individual sales person has their own individual motivations and you want to be able to find this out quickly.

10. Tell me about your worst boss.
This will tell you on the opposite end of the spectrum of how not to motivate them, or how not to lead them. And how did that worst boss bring the worst out in you or why was he so bad? This is more along the lines of what not to do.

Those are the 10 questions that we ask our sales people at Sales Management Mastery Academy.

We get into this in more detail inside the “Motivate To Peak Performance” course which you can get at

For right now, these 10 question are a great start for you at your very next sales meeting, ask your sales people, write them down on a piece of paper, and they maybe have individual one on one conversations with them so that you can clarify how to motivate each one. And that is the easy way to motivate sales people.

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