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Motivate Sales Reps with Ten Simple Steps

Dec 09, 2016
6 min read
Driving sales performance is necessary for organizations to succeed. Here are 10 steps for leadership to motivate sales teams and increase performance.

The question of how to motivate sales reps when numbers are down—and inspire team performance to maintain success when levels are up—has been around since the dawn of the workforce.

They may use those exact words, but every time an employer has wondered how improve performance, they were really thinking: I understand the importance of motivation, but how can I motivate sales reps across my team in order to inspire performance?

Here are 10 tips motivate and inspire your team from industry experts.

1. Implement a SPIF

A SPIF, otherwise known as a special performance incentive fund, is a short-term incentive program many organizations use when they want to motivate sales reps efficiently to sell a certain product, or do a certain action.

According to Khalil Mujadedi, Enterprise Sales Executive, Xactly, “Any SPIF that comes out is a challenge, like running a mile for a better time, or beating your friend on a daily workout challenge. It is a goal to work towards just like Presidents Club, and any chance of making a higher commission is always a motivating factor.”

Used effectively, a SPIF will blend seamlessly with the rest of a rep’s incentive pay plan, and won’t be so heavily weighted that it distracts from their main metrics. An example of how you can use a SPIF to motivate your sales reps would be if you wanted prospects to attend a company event, but the registration was sluggish and you weren’t sure how to remedy this.

A situation like this is the perfect time to incentivize reps to invite people to the event- even a small SPIF, like every rep receiving a $50 Amazon card for each person they sign up is enough to do the trick. Sometimes it’s the little things that count big when motivating your sales reps.

2. Share Reps’ Performance

Many sales leaders think that the only way to inspire their sales team to perform is with money. This simply isn’t the case, as there are many powerful non-cash rewards at your disposal. Sales people are competitive by nature, so publicizing their excellent performance in various ways can go far when it comes to motivating your sales reps.

For example, here at Xactly, there are leader boards around our office that show which reps are closing big deals, who is the top rep of the week, etc. In addition, when we have our quarterly all hands meetings we give special and public recognition to the top reps of the quarter. Getting accolades in front of peers is often a very important motivating factor for sales reps.

Along the same lines, sharing motivational sales stories will help reps think differently, and perhaps ignite positive behavior is some way, shape, or form.

3. Publicize President’s Club

When our internal team was asked their top motivators, nearly every sales person listed President’s Club as a major motivator.

According to Mujadedi, “Making Presidents club brings with it prestige, and the respect of being in the top tier of professionals in your company. It also lets prospects know that you aren't just a JV player waiting to get a better job.”

President’s Club is a powerful lever for sales performance for many reasons, including much deserved time off work in a beautiful locale.

Lori Castillo, Solutions Consultant, Xactly added that, “President’s Club is a great motivator, because it’s not short term. It keeps me working towards something tangible all year long.”

4. Give Sales Reps Increased Visibility

Many people are visual learners and understand things better when they see them, rather than reading them in a report. Xactly’s Incentive Estimator™ and dashboard motivate your sales reps because they are able to see exactly how much they are going to make on every one of their deals if they perform in a certain way.

This increased visibility allows reps to feel inspired to pay more attention to the most important deals and goals for the quarter, rather than getting distracted or losing focus. Visibility gives reps the information they need to quote business in real-time and this results in peak performance and goal attainment.

5. Use Stacked Rankings

“Stacked rankings are a great way to bring out the competitive side of your reps, and motivate them to get to that number one spot,” recommends Evan Horibe, Director of General Business, Enterprise Sales, Xactly.

As mentioned previously, sales reps are competitive by nature. This means that when a weekly report or stacked rankings gets sent out and a rep doesn’t see their name at the top of the list, you can bet they are going to work extra hard the next week to ensure their place as a top performer.

6. Utilize the Right Tools

At one point in time, you didn’t need much more than a rolodex, landline, and ambition to be a highly performing sales rep. Today, that is no longer the case. In order to ensure you keep sales reps motivated, and performing at the peak of their ability, you have to provide them with the right tool set.

This tool set will vary by company and industry, but tools like Salesforce CRM, SpringCM, Xactly’s Sales Performance Management platform, a great CPQ like NewVoiceMedia or FPX, and a leading edge sales coaching solution like Xactly Inspire™. Here are more tools specific to sales management.

7. Pay Reps as Soon as the Deal Closes

Okay, the second the deal closes might be a little unrealistic for pretty much all companies. If you want to pay for performance in sales, paying a rep his bonus in March for a deal that he closed in February is an effective and motivating incentive program.

On the other hand, if a rep at a different company closed a deal in February and isn’t compensated until May, that rep is at a company that’s created a reward program, and not an incentive compensation plan.

An incentive compensation plan motivates reps and drives behavior that you want, while a rewards program only makes the rep happy the day that they get the pay-out. By the time May rolls around and they are paid, that check has absolutely no connection to the sale they made three months prior.

If you want to motivate your sales reps to perform the way that you want them to over and over again then they must receive their compensation in as timely a manner as possible

8. Invest in Company Culture

Remember that culture starts from the top down and is a critical piece in the motivating sales reps puzzle.

Mujadedi added that, “Working in the right culture is one of the biggest pieces of keeping a staff motivated. I have worked at other companies that lacked vision or buy-in to the product. I have never been a part of a culture that has made me want to give 110% like the one here at Xactly.”

As we mentioned earlier, it’s not all about the cheddar, even for sales reps. Like it or not, we are at work more than we’re at home, and if it’s not a place that your employees feel happy, supported, and inspired by then they are never going to be able to give their full effort to the organization.

9. Reconsider Your Incentive Strategy

Many companies have unintentionally created plans that don’t motivate sales reps. One of these detrimental actions is capping commissions- organizations do this because they are afraid that if all of their reps blow out their quotas, than their forecasts will be off, and they won’t have enough cash-flow.

However, when companies use a tool like Xactly with its advanced modeling and forecasting tools this worry is non-existent. You want to motivate your sales reps by sending the message that what’s good for them is good for the company.

Sure, they might get a large check, but if you’re prepared to write it, the revenue that they bring in with the deal should far outweigh the payout you give the rep.

10. Run Internal Contests & Gamify

Motivating the sales team with games or any type of sales gamification is something to consider. And yes, running an internal contest is similar to a SPIF, but when it’s a contest, the entire company should know about it—and the prize shouldn’t be cash.

In our experience, the prize doesn’t matter nearly as much as the glory. For example, we’ve run internal contests with our sales team to see who can get the most people registered for our user event each week. The rep that registers the most attendees was named the “champ of the week” and got a comical, branded wrestling belt covered with company flair (along with bragging rights, of course).

Xactly’s solution can give your reps more visibility, and help reps stay motivated to reach their peak performance. Learn more about Xactly’s Sales Performance Management (SPM) Software.

  • Sales Coaching and Motivation
Jordan Scott Headshot
Jordan Scott
Senior Manager, PR and Customer Communications

Jordan Scott is the Senior Manager of PR and Customer Communications at Xactly. She attended The University of California at Santa Cruz, and received degrees in Literature and Education.