What would you say motivates sales reps the most?

A lot of sales management executives would probably say money. Truth is, money is a motivating factor and there is nothing wrong with that. After all, it means paying off loans, sending your kids to college, traveling, and so on.

But money is only one way to motivate your reps to achieve their goals and it should not be treated as the be-all end-all. Writing checks is not what creates lasting loyalty.

In fact, money isn’t even the top motivator. According to a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, the #1 motivator for sales reps is clarity of task.

So, what does “clarity of task” mean? Jason Jordan, partner at Vantage Point Performance, explains it this way: if a sales rep knows what he needs to do to succeed, he will be motivated to do it. The trick is knowing what to do – in other words, knowing what sales activities need to be completed to achieve the results you want.

As a sales manager, it is your job to give your reps the tools for success by telling them what to do. Saying “just hit your quota” is the least helpful coaching strategy out there. It gives reps no actionable insight. Instead, identify exactly what sales activities drive your desired business results and coach your reps on how to complete these activities. When they have confidence that completing these activities will lead to success, they will be motivated.

At Dreamforce this year, Jason described how sales managers can reverse-engineer the results of their reps’ success. Here’s how he breaks it down:

  1. Identify the business results you want to achieve. Let’s say you want to increase your market share by 5% by the end of the year.

  1. Select and quantify the best sales objectives that will lead to those results. Let’s assume you have a 30% market share in your territory. You decide that the best way to increase market share is to increase your share-of-wallet with your existing customers by 15%.

  1. Link the objectives to relevant activities and manage them relentlessly. Agree that to reach that goal, you need to sit down with your sales reps at least once per quarter to go over their account plans. Their sales activity: complete their account plans for quarterly review. Now they will execute because they are confident it will lead to their success.

Clearly, data is an important part of clarifying your reps’ tasks. When you meet with your reps individually, use data-driven reports to show them what they’re doing well and what they’re not doing well. Never base your coaching on gut feeling – use their performance metrics to show them exactly which skills need work. When improvement can be measured over time, they will be motivated to get better. Numbers tell the most persuasive stories.

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