Everyone knows that salespeople are motivated by money, but what are the other factors that determine top sales performance? I had a chance to catch up with sales expert Adam Honig, CEO of Spiro Technologies, at the SaaStr Annual in San Francisco recently and we talked through our experience in motivating sales teams.

Adam's new company has created a personal sales assistant "for salespeople who want to make more money," but he readily acknowledged that while motivating salespeople with money is necessary, it's not enough in today's sales environment. After a heated discussion, we agreed that in our experience the following four factors had the biggest impact on encouraging and getting the most out of your sales team.

1. Leadership

This is often overlooked, but great salespeople are inspired by the qualities and values of their organizations, and most importantly the quality of the leadership at the firm. Salespeople want to close deals and make money, but they usually take immense pride in the work they do, and they want to be seen as helping their customers.

Your sales team will be more motivated if they're selling something the deeply believe in. The best way to make this a reality is if they really believe in the leadership of the company.

Inspirational leadership needs to go beyond the annual sales kickoff. Show your sales team that you care passionately about your product, customers, and employees and they'll follow your example.

2. Contests

Salespeople are competitive by nature, and it's an important capability to foster in your team. Why? The best salespeople routinely face rejection every day. They need an aggressive attitude to push through.

Running a public contest that can show your sales team how they stack up against one another will give them motivation to push themselves further. Don't make your contest about who simply sells the most--dig a little deeper and look to factors that drive sales: number of customer calls or meetings, proposals created, etc.

3. Recognition

When thinking to motivate the sales team, remember that salespeople aren't some sort of alien species! Even though they're motivated by money, they crave recognition in your company. Celebrate the wins, and don't forget the salesperson.

Have a periodic update--weekly, monthly, whatever works--that focuses on new customers, deals won or even leads generated. You'll find that by putting a spotlight on the best performers, they'll push harder, and those that didn't get recognized will look for ways to excel.

4. Ability to Give Back

What we've seen over time is that providing an opportunity to your senior salespeople to mentor and coach more junior members of the team, pays dividends for both parties.

There is something about teaching that rekindles parts of the brain to go back and set a good example. We've seen this happen again and again with senior salespeople who are doing well, but maybe not pushing themselves as hard as the could.

Since most sales management is spread thin and doesn't have a lot of time for one-on-one coaching, the attention from the more experienced team members can make or break a career.

Don't Ignore Compensation!

Of course you also need an incentive compensation plan that is also designed to encourage the sales team to do the right things for your business. These factors should be applied in conjunction with such a plan, not instead.

Each sales team needs different motivations to perform optimally. Even within your sales department you might need different drivers for high performers vs. new reps. Keep that in mind when you try different strategies, and be sure to try new things and mix it up. No matter what, the "same old, same old" is never motivating.

Published on: Feb 26, 2016