Most salespeople are self-motivated. It’s part of the job. But as a manager, your goal is to deliver even higher levels of performance than your team can bring by themselves. So, we try various tactics and speeches in a vague approximation of that iconic scene from Glengarry Glen Ross, but guess what? That type of aggressive, in-your-face employee management gets old fast.

To truly engage your entire sales team requires a more careful and thoughtful approach. Here are 5 proven employee motivation strategies you can implement immediately:

1. Level the Playing Field

Every sales rep finds themselves ranked against their peers in how much business they’re closing, and it’s often on public display. Who’s winning and who’s dying? Who will score the invitation to President’s Club, and who will be left at home?

If you’re not the top producer, it’s hard to feel excited about what you’re doing. (“Let’s face it, Susan is going to come out on top. Susan has the best territory.”)

But every sales team is also working on something strategic, and that’s where everyone can compete on an even playing field and be fully engaged.

Examine your strategic priorities, and try running a focused sales contest around a goal unrelated to total sales. If you’re trying to get more revenue overseas, see who can close the most European deals. Or who can take the most deals away from a certain key competitor, or who can close the most new accounts from the dead-leads list. Consider measuring numbers of transactions rather than dollar volume, since territory assignments may give certain reps an unfair advantage.

Contests like this can help motivate the entire team while also accomplishing a specific goal. And everyone can truly participate, not just your highest performers (who probably needed less motivating in the first place). Throw in a spot bonus or some extra time off for the winner, and you’ll really get the team working toward your goal.

2. Celebrate on Slack

I don’t need to sing the praises of Slack (or Hipchat or Yammer or whatever you’re using for group chat). It’s the global information source: for news, gossip or to find out when pizza is arriving.

But it’s also a powerful sales motivator by helping to publicize your sales successes in real time. Here’s how:

The first step is to cultivate a company culture which celebrates new business. A new deal is a blessed thing. Customer revenue pays everyone’s salaries, and new revenue funds new growth and prosperity. If your organization doesn’t value each new deal, you need to change people’s attitudes (and frankly, that’s a sign of a systemic cultural problem).

But if your culture is generally excited about new sales, you can turn Slack into the greatest 21st century sales bell.

Step 2: Wire up your CRM to automatically report new closed sales in a Slack channel, and encourage everyone in the company to subscribe.

Step 3: Sit back and watch as everyone cheers on your reps — whether the deals are large or small. A robust and positive chorus from your non-sales staff will make your sales team feel recognized and appreciated. And you’ll be surprised how creative those reaction emojis can be.

3. Undercover Boss

Invite your CEO to sit with the sales team from time to time. Book a half-day minimum, then set your CEO to work in the various roles your team does: make cold calls; conduct product demos and walkthroughs; handle the toughest objections.

This is not only great training (to watch your ‘best salesperson’ in action), but it also gives your team direct access to the boss for spontaneous questions, critique and feedback. This kind of attention reminds everyone on the sales team how important and valued they are.

4. Story Time

Gather round, children. It’s time to hear great stories from the front lines of sales.

The greatest sales achievements aren’t always about the bottom line. If you only celebrate your largest deals, you’re missing out on rewarding the greatest efforts and creativity by your team.

5 Proven Motivation Techniques for Your Sales Team


Make time each week or each month to share the best stories. You can do this just with your sales team, or with other departments as well. Offer (or assign) to each rep the opportunity to share a story of greatness. It might be the deal that had to be taken from the clutches of your competitor. Maybe it was a story of bravery, where a rep held firm on pricing when a customer put them under tremendous pressure to discount. Or perhaps it’s a story of a really clever way a rookie rep configured your product for a customer’s unusual needs.

Not only do reps get recognized for their efforts, but they’re also able to share valuable tips and tricks with their colleagues.

5. Focus on Employee Motivation of Remote Reps

Most companies have reps in places far from headquarters. Whether it’s a tiny branch office or a rep working solo, these distant teammates too often feel disconnected from typical motivational activities. They can’t easily attend an offsite; they miss the bonding that occurs at casual happy hours; and ‘Funny Hat Day’ just doesn’t work when you work from home.

But if you’re going to run a high-performing sales team, everyone needs to be fully engaged and fired up. This is especially true for your non-headquarters reps.

Have an always-on Slack channel for peer advice. Hold a daily morning standup on video (where everyone is using their webcam to participate, even if they sit 10 feet from each other). Hold weekly webcam office hours with your VP of Sales, CEO or other senior staff to take questions exclusively from the remote team. Encourage situation-based coaching based on the events of the week.

Finally, make sure that when remote reps are summoned to headquarters for a visit, they’re fully booked with meals, meetings and training to maximize the in-person contact with non-sales members of the company.