by J. Karluk | April 25, 2022 | 5 Min Read

How to inspire salespeople to reach their full potential (and beyond!)


Sales managers and executives are always looking for new and innovative strategies for motivating salespeople: What really works and what doesn’t?

Think about it: your salespeople deal with multiple challenges every day:

  • Objections and rejections from prospects
  • Market changes and increasing competition
  • Delivery and supply chain delays
  • Pressure to hit goals

With all of these challenges and more, your salespeople need encouragement and recognition for their efforts to keep up morale. Research shows that team members need at least three positive interactions for every negative one to stay motivated.

But motivating sales team members is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Some salespeople are naturally competitive with a greater internal drive than others, while some thrive on meeting targets and goals, and others are in it for the money.

Companies spend more than $800 billion on sales force compensation in the US—the single most significant marketing investment for many companies. Organizations often impose commission caps or launch sales contests with lackluster prizes to keep this number low.

When it comes to motivating salespeople, what really works to impact your employees and your sales objectives?

If you’re wondering:

  • How to motivate your team to sell
  • How do sales incentives work
  • How to inspire salespeople

In today's post, you’ll find all the answers to these questions (and more!).

Motivating salespeople: what really works?

Talented salespeople are typically self-motivated, passionate, ambitious, resilient, confident, communicative, and great networkers. But even salespeople with these power skills need to be appreciated and valued for their achievements and contributions.

Gone are the days of getting a job and staying with one company until retirement (especially for younger employees). If your employees feel under-appreciated or don’t love your company’s culture, they’ll leave for a place that matches their wants and needs.

Wondering how to motivate a salesperson more effectively?

Here are five ways to inspire your sales team to reach their full potential (and beyond!).

1. Multi-tier sales goals

Implementing different tiers of sales goals works because your salespeople sell at different levels. It’s a great strategy to understand how to motivate your team to sell. When you make the first-level sales goal achievable, all salespeople feel like winners while motivating your most driven and ambitious salespeople to reach the highest ones.

You can also break goals into daily, weekly, and monthly milestones:

  • Daily goals are an easy, fun way to add friendly competition into each workday.
  • Weekly goals should work towards making a defined business impact.
  • Monthly goals are the largest and should come with a higher-value reward.

Additionally, both hard and soft skills for salespeople are necessary to achieve your company’s goals. Therefore, when you set sales goals, ensure that both skill sets are valued and tested.

2. Contests and prizes

Learn how to motivate a salesperson with contests and prizes that people actually want to win.

Some assume they won’t win if they know there will only be one winner, so they don’t bother trying. However, by incorporating multi-tiered sales goals like those above, you can offer a hierarchy of prizes. Allowing for multiple winners, from newbies to top performers, will likely improve your sales team’s performance and sales efforts.

If you’re unsure of how to motivate a salesperson or how to motivate sales managers through contests and prizes, ask them! Something as simple as an additional PTO day or half-day may be more motivating than you think.

3. Employee recognition

While many salespeople are competitive and love the opportunity to compete with colleagues for prizes, trophies, and maybe even just bragging rights, it shouldn’t always feel so competitive.

When brainstorming how to inspire salespeople, consider implementing an employee recognition program. Here are some employee recognition ideas:

  • Employee and/or sales manager of the month
  • Creating an “Employee Hall of Fame” for top achievers
  • Company-wide email blasts with kudos from customers, leaders, or other employees
  • “Colleague call-outs” where employees submit notes about something worthwhile that their coworkers did

Again, sometimes the simplest initiatives can make the greatest impact.

4. Uncapped commissions

Research suggests that commission caps decrease effort and motivation in your sales team, especially the high-performers. Conversely, when commissions are uncapped, so is your sales team’s effort.

If you don’t like the possibility of overpaying your sales reps using the uncapped commission model, consider offering bonus commissions once quotas are met.

5. Continuous training and upskill opportunities

When motivating salespeople, what really works is investing in them.

Continuous training, upskilling hard and soft skills, and providing growth opportunities are essential for today’s job seekers and employees. Millennials, in particular, are looking for employers that develop their on-the-job knowledge, help them develop their skills, and advance their careers.

When you don’t present learning and growth as a fundamental pillar of your company culture, your salespeople will likely feel undervalued and even under-appreciated.

Do sales incentives work?

When you consider the different needs of your sales team and offer a variety of rewards that align with those needs, you’ll notice an increase in motivation, effort, and results. As a result, they’ll strive harder to hit their goals, focus on what they have to do to get the job done, and remain persistent.

And when salespeople are motivated and selling, your company wins.

So, do sales incentives work?

When done correctly, yes, sales incentives can help, but they shouldn’t be the only way you’re motivating employees.

Most employees don’t leave because of their pay; they leave because they’re not happy with their work environment or company culture. Employees want to feel appreciated and valued as individuals, and these days, people are more likely to turn down raises if it means sacrificing work/life balance or flexible schedules.

Therefore, ensure factors like company culture, alignment with the organization’s mission, and flexibility are at the forefront of your leadership’s decision-making.

Motivate your salespeople to reach beyond their full potential with Unboxed

When motivating salespeople, what really works is helping your salespeople to reach their full potential.

Motivating sales teams involves more than just added commissions and bonuses. By prioritizing employee training and development, your salespeople will feel like you’re investing in them (and not just to benefit your bottom line).

So, what’s the best way to do this?

A robust Learning Management System (LMS) like Spoke® makes employee training engaging and motivating. When you encourage your salespeople to continue learning and growing throughout every stage of their careers, you’re investing in their futures.

When employees feel valued, they perform better, ultimately increasing loyalty, retention, and your bottom line.

At Unboxed Training & Technology, our LMS focuses on upskilling both hard and soft skills for salespeople so that they can rise to new levels of success. Contact us today to learn how our Spoke® Learning Technology Platform can inspire and empower your salespeople, sales managers, and business.

More articles like this one