Motivating Your Sales Force: Essential Techniques

Motivation among sales employees is crucial for driving productivity and achieving organizational goals. Derived from the word “motive,” which denotes needs, desires, and drives, motivation stimulates individuals to pursue and accomplish objectives. Author Jeff Nevid defines motivation as the factors that activate, direct, and sustain goal-directed behavior, highlighting the psychological elements at play.

Intrinsic Motivation:

Sales professionals are often driven by intrinsic factors rooted in personal satisfaction and fulfillment. These include:

Acceptance: Valuing recognition and acceptance of their contributions by peers and management.  

Curiosity: A constant desire to learn and grow within their role.

Ethical Standards: Upholding integrity and ethical practices in their dealings.

Autonomy: Appreciating the independence to make decisions and execute tasks.

Order: Thriving in organized work environments.

Influence: Seeking opportunities to exert influence and make an impact.

Status: Valuing their position and reputation within the organization.

Strategies to Boost Intrinsic Motivation:

Assign Meaningful Responsibilities: 

Empower sales employees with challenging and meaningful tasks that inspire and engage.
Recognition Programs: Implement Employee Spotlight newsletters or personalized thank-you emails to acknowledge achievements and contributions.

Extrinsic Motivation:

Extrinsic motivation revolves around external rewards and recognition that drive performance. These include:

Recognition Programs: Weekly, monthly, or quarterly awards for top performers.

Clear Communication: Transparent policies and processes that outline expectations and benefits.

Incentives: Performance-linked bonuses, joining bonuses, and retention bonuses.

Professional Development: Opportunities for enhancing product knowledge and addressing skill gaps.

Team Building Activities: Engaging in team-building exercises, sales conferences, and charitable events.

Strategies to Enhance Extrinsic Motivation:

Reward Performance: Offer incentives for exceeding sales targets and fostering team collaboration.

Referral Programs: Encourage employees to refer talented candidates, incentivizing successful hires.

Initiative Recognition: Acknowledge and reward employees for initiating new ideas and improvements.


Motivating sales employees involves understanding both their intrinsic drives and extrinsic rewards. By implementing tailored strategies that cater to these motivations, organizations can cultivate a motivated sales force poised for success. Remember, sustained motivation leads to empowered sales teams who consistently achieve goals and drive business growth.

For more insights into motivating your sales team effectively, consult leadership experts and stay informed with current research in the field.