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Motivators: how do you drive Sales productivity?


How do we drive sales productivity to motivate sales people to work harder and smarter?

It is those people who have the greatest “need to achieve” who work the hardest. This factor is an important thing to look for during recruitment.

However, within the control of management, the two factors that most impact a salesperson’s motivation to work hard are:

  1. Having a clear sales task and role.
  2. The compensation system.

A Clear Task – the most important motivating factor

Companies often want to onboard their new salespeople as quickly as possible and get them on the phones or out into the field selling. That’s understandable.

It might sound familiar that your new people receive your product/sector training, your company training, and then they are asked to crack on with selling.

Some Harvard Business Review reseach highlighted that the biggest gift you can give a salesperson is the design of their job and a proforma campaign. In other words, to give them a clear understanding of what their role entails and of what a typical sale looks like as a whole (from contact to contract).

Break it down. Show them what to do, how to get there and be successful.

Without clarity and structure, salespeople’s only option is to learn from experience how to sell your products/services. Ultimately this will give mixed results and can lengthen the time it takes to get each individual up to the required level of sales productivity. The risk also is that motivation is lost.

This is compounded if sales territories are unclear or regularly reorganised, they are unsure what business is being won, or if Sales Leaders are not effective in coaching their team throughout the process.

Top performers do what is seemingly intuition, but this is grounded on managing a clearly defined sales process well.

This clarity of the sale comes from bottling what the best are doing. Selling is no longer about luck and experience but based on best practice.

Like a game of chess, as Sales Leaders, you can help your team to think strategically and plan several ‘moves’ ahead by identifying with them:

  • Typical events that occur at each phase of the sale.
  • The Politics – understand who they need to meet, when and why.
  • The work we need to do.
  • The work the customer needs to do – to progress the sale.

“Pro forma” sales campaigns give salespeople a very clear sales task and role. Those organisations with more than just salary have harder working salespeople.

The Power of Incentives and a Clear Task

The combination of a clear sales task and an incentive scheme gives the most powerful motivation. Here are some of the researchers’ findings.

Motivating Factor Hours spent selling or in Sales Related Activity
Straight Salary 48
Incentive Plan 51
Incentive Plan, a Clear Task 62
Incentive Plan, a Clear Task, a High need to achieve 65

In Order of Importance As A Motivating Factor

Description Percentage variation in the hours worked
Clear Task – Design of the Sales Job 33.6%
Personality – Intrinsic Need to Achieve 21.2%
Compensation – Design of the Pay 11.6%

The HBR researchers chose hours worked because they are directly measurable.

Their study found it almost impossible to relate Clear Task, Personality and Compensation directly to sales results. There are so many other variables like sales skills, territory, economic factors etc that have an influence on sales results.

However, they found a 0.91 correlation of hours worked to a percentage increase in sales. These findings highlight valuable lessons for Sales Leaders.

You can hire sales people with a high need to achieve and provide a solid incentive plan. But with a Clear Task as the strongest motivating factor, this underlines the importance of job role design (with clear goals and objectives) plus well-defined sales process roadmaps and playbooks.

Advance helps companies to ‘bottle’ their best practices from successful sales. This gives clear roadmaps of success for salespeople to follow and quality measures of outcomes for Sales Leaders to inspect and use for effective coaching interventions.

Commitment Based Selling ensures that salespeople look at the sale from contact to contract, and having bottled best practice, they can replicate the best.

If you want to drive sales productivity talk to us about our Sales Process Mapping and SCOTSMAN® Coach workshops. We can also input this best practice into Salesforce and MS Dynamics 365 using our SCOTSMAN® Commitment Manager app.

Mike Wilkinson
Mike Wilkinson
Managing Director Advance - Creators of SCOTSMAN®