Why You Can’t Motivate a Salesperson

A question sales managers ask me all the time is, “How do I motivate my salespeople?”

In particular, they want to know how to motivate a low-performing salesperson.

Let me say that after 30 years of sales management experience, I have found that sales motivation is not something you do to someone else. It’s something each person has to do to themselves.

The best you can do as a sales manager is to create an environment where the salesperson is willing to motivate themselves.

If you don’t agree with me, let me give you a simple example.  I can’t make you happy. You have to decide to be happy.  The best I can do is create an environment where you want to be happy.

The role of the sales manager when it comes to motivating salespeople is to create an environment where people will want to be motivated through their actions.   If the tasks you’re doing are not allowing people to feel that way about themselves, either you’re not creating the right environment or you have people who do not want to be motivated.  It’s that basic.

  • An environment that creates sales motivation is one that acknowledges success and allows people to be recognized.
  • It is one that facilitates growth through support and development.
  • Motivating environments are naturally goal-oriented but in a manner that encourages accomplishment.
  • Finally a motivating environment is one that allows for discussion, feedback and fun.

If a sales manager is creating that type of environment and their people are not motivated, then there is another issue happening.

When you have a person who does not want to be motivated, it many times comes down to either a mis-match in terms of job.  In this case the person may simply not want a position in sales.  Another possibility is the person could be challenged due to issues outside of the job.  The former is something you can influence and the latter is most likely something you can only monitor.

Over time the only people you will want on your team are salespeople who respond well in a sales motivation environment.

Copyright 2012, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.

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1 thought on “Why You Can’t Motivate a Salesperson”

  1. Your article highlights a common thread that runs through the vast majority of successful hunter-type salespeople: an innate need to be assertive. These people want to compete, want to win, want to take charge of their destiny, want to get others to follow. When you then place these people into an environment where their need to blaze their trail is constricted by management or similar overly structured environment, their self-incenting nature and internal fire is snuffed out.

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