How NOT to Motivate Your Sales Team

by | Mar 31, 2015 | Employee Engagement, Incentive Programs, Sales Incentives, Sales Tactics

There are many ways to motivate your sales team, some more effective than others. But there are a few common motivators that are often used when setting up incentive programs that can have pretty severe, unintended consequences. Today, we’ll explore a few of these concepts and consider some of the negative side effects.

The Stick

This is one that a lot of sales managers don’t even realize they are using. While the sales person’s job may or may not be on the line, lots of sales people feel that it is constantly. The stress and pressure of one feeling like they could lose their job may make them work harder, but the prospect will sense the desperation and lack of confidence and therefore the longer hours with no results will only lead to further frustration and anxiety. You want your sales people to have a positive and confident attitude to be able to close the sale. The carrot is much more effective than the stick in generating results.

Same ol’, same ol’

Just because one specific promotion or contest was successful once or twice doesn’t mean it will be every time. In fact, the more it’s done, the less successful it will be. Don’t keep doing the same thing over and over—this gets boring and with bored salespeople, you get boring results. Everyone needs something new and exciting to get them energized.

One size fits all


Don’t use a one-size-fits-all approach. What you think is the perfect motivator may be of no interest at all to someone else.


Don’t put a great incentive out there on a goal that is it impossible to reach. If a lot of hard work and effort go into coming up just short time after time, the incentive will have no impact at all. Everyone needs to have some successes which gives them confidence that they can do it.

You again?

Don’t structure your incentive programs so that the same sales people continue to win over and over. Nothing is more demoralizing than working hard only to see the same person win the prize. The rest of the sales team will begin to internally justify the reason for their failure and convince themselves the deck is stacked against them: “Why bother when Joe has a better territory and will always do better than me?”

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<strong>About </strong>Nichole Gunn

About Nichole Gunn

Nichole Gunn is the VP of Marketing at Incentive Solutions, an Atlanta-based incentive company that delivers advanced, agile B2B customer loyalty and channel sales incentives programs.

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