Tips For Motivating Successful Sales People

Published: 16th June 2010
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Trainers of management training courses are often asked about the key motivators of successful sales people. If managers can understand those key motives, they will be more effectual at managing these successful people

Personal success clearly comes before team performance

Top salespeople are rare. What really distinguishes them from others? Over a period of 22 years the Gallup Management Consulting Group have carried out studies which reveale the following key abilities and talents:

Attribute 1: Concluding sales negotiations

The ability to conclude sales negotiations successfully is principally the result of an amazing amount of persistence. Top salespeople do not allow themselves to be discouraged by failure. They accept that double the amount of sales negotiations means double the amount of failure.

They put up with the inevitable number of unsuccessful visits, because they have absolute faith in themselves and the product and services that they are selling.

Attribute 2: Self motivation

The reasons for top salespeople wanting to get to the top are as different as the people themselves: money; recognition; getting to know people; the desire to prove themselves; etc. The one thing they have in common, however, is that there is a fire burning in them. It is not the sales manager who has lit this fire, but it is he who controls the amount of air that fans the fire and makes sure that it is not extinguished.

This internal enthusiasm is stronger than any motivational package a sales manager can introduce and makes it possible for top sales people to attain exceptional performances.

Attribute 3: Self discipline

Clients are demanding and there is tough competition. Against this background, sustainable, long-term success is only conceivable if salespeople work in the most organised way possible.

Reliability, meeting deadlines and diligence are the cornerstones of a top salesperson's working style. They have tailor-made many of the aids they have to help them accomplish this: forms, lists, deadline overviews, presentation portfolios.

Attribute 4: Empathy

Offensive salespeople and power sellers are indisputably successful in certain markets. Salespeople on the whole need to build up and nurture a relationship with the customer. This always entails looking at the situation from the client's point of view and a good understanding of the client's problems. A salesperson will only have the patience to do this if they accept the client and emphasise the things that both of them have in common.

If you have a top salesperson like this in your sales team, then it is your job to make sure that they keep their "inner" motivation as taught on all good management training courses. What is the driving force that motivates them? The Gallup Study mentions four "motivational factors" and the effect these have on a sales team:


Salespeople who are motivated by competition do not only want to win, they want to be better than their competitors. The result is they make no distinction between a sales person from a rival company and a co-worker. They are fair, however, and their performance will also inspire their sales team.

Ego drive

The ego of these top salespeople is the focal point of everything. They want to be the best and get the glory personally. Team performance means nothing to them. You can however motivate these salespeople by making them mentors for young salespeople. They are exhilarated when younger salespeople admire their expertise.

Love of success

This is the motivation that is most desirable to drum into team thinking, but unfortunately team thoughts rarely enter the head of top salespeople. Any salesperson who loves success feels motivated by the task at hand alone. If they achieve a goal, their sights are automatically set a notch higher. Colleagues' success does not bother them, since the main thing is that the task has been accomplished. Always ensure there are enough challenges to stretch your salespeople.

Service strength

The strength of salespeople who have this inner motivation is the ability to create and build on client relationships. They are constantly on the look-out for the optimum uses for their clients. These are the ones who express with as much understanding as possible what it is the customer actually needs and then goes out of their way to accomplish this. In the sales team, this type of salesperson is often the work horse who does the less well-liked tasks, because these are the ones which are complicated and drawn out. You need to recognise the fact that your top salespeople fulfil this role.

These are the key motivators and attributes of successful sales people. Managers who hope to further develop their skills of motivating and identifying successful salespeople can attend pertinent management training courses.


Richard Stone is a Director for Spearhead Training Limited that runs management training programmes aimed at improving business performance.

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