The subject of motivation has been extensively researched in the past few decades. The first theories on the significance of motivation were published in 1943, namely Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Later, Herzberg and Vroom took Maslow’s research further and published papers centered around employee motivation. Vroom’s expectancy theory (1964) and Herzberg’s two-factor theory (1959) were crucial to the development of the corporate sector, and many of their findings and theories are applied today at workplaces around the world. So, one might beg the question: is employee motivation correlated with better sales?

Motivating Salespeople

Still, as revolutionary as they were, these theories have some limitations. The diversity of people, opinions, and backgrounds means that there is no surefire way to motivate employees. What motivates some will discourage others, affecting overall sales and performance. Therefore, for managers, striking this balance is one of the toughest tasks that they have to tackle constantly.

A director or sales manager can influence the employees in two ways: objectively, appealing to their skill set and subjectively, by motivating them through various tactics. These two elements are crucial and could determine the team’s performance and sales in the long run. Improving the group’s skill set is best done through metrics and raw data, which can show what particular areas need improvement and what can be done in this sense.

Motivation is a much harder task to tackle, and the aforementioned diversity in opinions and background can impede this process. It is common knowledge that every person is different and requires a diverse set of motivational tactics and incentives to encourage them to give the job their all. Some are motivated by a higher salary, while others are stimulated by positive feedback and visual representations of their work and progress – graphs, reports, you name it.

Fortunately, there are many motivational strategies that you, as a manager, can enact to boost your team’s performance and sales. Here are a few surefire ways to motivate your employees.

Understand What Drives Your Team Members

Obviously, you can’t properly motivate your team without knowing what exactly drives them, both professionally and, to some degree, personally. Some people want to achieve financial security. Others want to leave behind a legacy through their work and are happy when they see that their efforts had some sort of positive impact on the company or their surroundings. Other people want to strike a balance between these two.

Regardless, having a keen understanding of each employee’s personality and quirks will help you determine what motivational tactics to employ. Moreover, a manager who is aware of these things will always have the team’s full support and cooperation because they trust that their superior is focused on the collective good. Which takes us to the next entry…

Build a Climate Based on Trust and Understanding

A good manager is always aware how important it is to build a positive climate in the team based on trust and constructive, encouraging feedback. If the employees believe you do not have their best interest at heart and you work only for your own betterment, they will have a very hard time investing time and effort in their work. This is the best way not only to motivate the salespeople but encourage them to take their work to the next level.

Unmotivated salespeople will not only underperform, but it will make future attempts to motivate them futile. But since motivation can only work if they trust you, you will have a harder time as a manager to give them the necessary push. It is a vicious cycle that, once triggered, is very hard to break.

One way to build trust in the team is by simply initiating an open, honest conversation with your employees on this issue. Ask each of them directly what you can do to construct a trusting relationship.

You might think it is a tad blunt or bossy, but your team will appreciate the directness and will know that your sole purpose is to make them feel happy and fulfilled by their work. Dollar General, one of the most respected chains of variety stores in the United States, employed a similar tactic recently and their sales have skyrocketed. After they read more about dollar general application, many people managed to make an informed decision and were attracted by their corporate culture, work environment and high variety of benefit packages.

Set Periodic Goals

There has been a plethora of research conducted on the benefits of goal setting in corporate environments, some of which deserve their own entire separate article. Nevertheless, the importance of goal setting can’t be stressed enough and as a manager, you have to make sure your team has a constant source of objectives that they have to pursue both collectively, and individually.

Salespeople are motivated in different ways. While some seek to achieve their quotas, other might enjoy team sales contests or improving their skill set. Nevertheless, the best way to structure goal plans is as follows:

  • Daily – short-term goals meant to spice things up at the office and encourage employees to temporarily break out of their routines. These goals should be fun, stimulating and as easy as possible.
  • Weekly – these objectives should have a clear business impact both on the team and the company. Set some improvement metrics and encourage your employees to come up with suggestions and feedback concerning how to apply certain skill sets in particular areas to achieve the weekly goal.
  • Monthly – the largest objective of them all that requires full dedication and focus from the employees. The rewards for achieving this goal should reflect the importance and impact of their hard work on the company.


Motivation and high team performance are intertwined – you simply can not have one without the other. A team that is unmotivated will not only underperform but make any future motivational attempts futile. That is why your job, as a manager, is to ensure that your team is happy, fulfilled and confident in your abilities and the fact that you have their best interest at heart. Make sure to read through this article and you will find out how to motivate your team.

Author Bio: Alex Moore is a West Virginia psychology undergraduate enthralled with everything mindfulness, workplace organization, and work-life balance. He writes for Job Application Center. Alex is very active on Twitter @alex_moore01