How to Motivate Your Sales Team to Reach Your Business Goals

15 May 23

Successful sales leaders must be adept at identifying dominant motivations and recognizing motivation signals. Learn how to motivate your sales team.

As a sales manager, you want your sales team to be motivated and work toward achieving business goals. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, understanding the six common factors that motivate salespeople can help you increase your sales team's motivation to achieve sales goals.

What Is Sales Motivation?

Sales motivation refers to a salesperson's drive, energy, and enthusiasm to achieve their sales targets. It keeps sales reps going, even when faced with challenges and setbacks. When a sales team is motivated, they're more likely to go above and beyond average performance and produce outstanding results.

Sales motivation can come from various sources, including personal goals, career aspirations, financial rewards, recognition, and a sense of accomplishment. Sales managers can tap into these internal sources of motivation are better able to achieve great sales results.

What Happens If Sales Managers Don't Motivate Their Teams?

Failing to motivate your sales team can have serious consequences. Salespeople who lack motivation are less likely to put in the extra effort required to achieve ambitious sales results, which can lead to missed opportunities and lost revenue.

Moreover, salespeople who don’t feel valued or motivated are more prone to looking for new job opportunities, causing your business to lose valuable talent and experience. Increased employee turnover requires increased time and effort to recruit, hire, and train new employees.

Failing to motivate your sales team can also affect the company's reputation. If salespeople lack motivation, they may not provide the service and support required to maintain customer satisfaction. It can lead to unhappy customers, negative reviews, and lost business.

The Challenges of Motivating Your Sales Team

As a high-impact sales manager, you want your salespeople to be motivated about the sales goal, to work toward that goal, and even go the extra mile to overachieve.

The hard part is identifying exactly how to motivate salespeople. There are several challenges to consider when motivating your sales team.

First, not only is everyone different, but we have different motivations. Secondly, those motivations can change very quickly, as can their intensity. You may feel charged and ready to face any challenge your job offers after a raise, bonus, or positive recognition. That intense drive may not be there all the time.

Additionally, although motivations vary between people and can change within the salesperson, there are usually one or two dominant motivating factors driving a salesperson. If you can key into the factors for each of your salespeople, you have a foundation for creating a sales motivation strategy.

To be a successful sales leader, you must identify dominant motivations and recognize motivation signals. But keep in mind that no leader has ever been able to motivate everyone 100 percent of the time.

Increasing Sales Motivation with the MOTIVE Framework

Your objective is to increase each of your salesperson's motivation to at least achieve sales goals. That might mean taking someone operating at 85% and getting them to 90%.



Money, or what money can buy, is important to most salespeople but isn't necessarily most important to everyone. It’s the most obvious motivator, but other motivators may be equally important.

Ways to impact and support money as a motivator include:

  • Relate sales results to money
  • Set up special incentives for superior performance
  • Discuss and reinforce personal and financial goals for the future


Many salespeople are driven by opportunity. What constitutes an opportunity varies from person to person. Still, motivational opportunities usually fall into the categories of challenges and the possibility of improving one's situation on the job or in life.

When you've recognized this motivation in members of your sales team, you should try to create an environment that offers opportunities.

Ways to create opportunities include:

  • Show how success leads to advancement
  • Provide for career pathing where possible
  • Delegate responsibilities that prepare the person for a future role in your organization


Many salespeople are perceived as hard-working go-getters who prefer to work alone to go after what they want to be successful. The nature of a sales position attracts independent people who prefer working alone.

But many salespeople don’t fit neatly into that stereotypical image. They’re motivated by the social aspects of being part of a team and contributing to its success. These people may get satisfaction from group problem-solving, contributing to a co-worker's success, or even playing a significant role at a sales meeting.

Ways to cultivate teamwork include:

  • Hold frequent sales meetings or social functions
  • Get them involved in team projects
  • Use "teamwork" and related ideas in your speech
  • Build in team incentives


While some salespeople are motivated by teamwork, many prefer to be left to their own devices. This motivator should not be ignored or minimized because people belong to a team. Instead, use it to motivate your salespeople to be successful. It involves empowerment, independence, and freedom, enhancing feelings of power and control.

Ways to foster independence include:

  • Delegate special projects or assignments (and then keep your hands off)
  • Provide added responsibilities and authority (as it is earned)
  • Have the salesperson conduct a segment of a sales meeting or lead the entire meeting


Recognition, approval, or a need to stand out from the crowd drives some salespeople. Whereas opportunity comes from internal recognition of achievements, visibility involves recognition from others.

Ways to promote visibility include:

  • Give lots of approval for even small accomplishments
  • Applaud successes with a personal note and publicize to salesforce or upper management
  • Be sure the salesperson knows that accomplishments are recognized


Most people want to perform well, even if they aren't doing well. The difference between the "excellence" and "opportunity" motivators is that the excellence-motivated person wants to excel at what he does and isn’t necessarily seeking higher, more challenging goals and opportunities. Excellence means the person takes great pride in achieving or surpassing personal and professional expectations.

The key to motivating this person is in a behavioral theory called the Pygmalion effect, or self-fulfilling prophecy. This theory states that your feelings about or confidence in a person's abilities will unconsciously be communicated to them via body language, actions, tone, and verbal interactions.

If you’re convinced that your salespeople are all capable of achieving their goals and you let them know it, it will reinforce their desires and motivation, and they’ll likely achieve and perhaps surpass their goals. On the other hand, if you’re doubtful that they can do it, it can lower your sales team's confidence in themselves, preventing them from performing well.

Ways to move the self-fulfilling prophecy in a positive direction include:

  • Establish personal and professional development goals and action plans together to enhance confidence that the salesperson will be able to fulfill them
  • Try to build on strengths
  • Ignore minor mistakes
  • Congratulate people on their achievements and progress toward goals


Motivating a sales team is critical for achieving business goals, avoiding employee turnover, and improving the company's reputation. Sales managers must recognize the six common factors motivating salespeople: Money, Opportunity, Teamwork, Independence, Visibility, and Excellence (MOTIVE).

Sales managers can increase a salesperson's motivation to achieve sales goals by relating sales results to money, reinforcing personal and financial goals, and showing how success leads to advancement.

While everyone has different motivators, and these motivators can change, identifying dominant motivations and recognizing motivation signals is crucial for a successful sales leader. By applying the MOTIVE framework, sales managers can create an environment that improves their sales team's motivation, leading to sustainable behavior change and achieving business goals.

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