Tips on Motivating your Sales Team and Staying Motivated Yourself

Scott Leese

Motivational questions come at me all the time. Seems like everyone is seeking to get/stay inspired. How we answer those questions is really important.  Here are a few that I get asked consistently:

  • How do you personally stay motivated? 
    • Is it a carrot: ala a trip or a new car? Is it family/kids? 
  • Has that motivation changed over time?
  • How have you motivated your teams in the past? 
    • Any issues when the team’s motivations don’t align with yours? 
  • What are the key attributes (if any) that your teams have had in common when it comes to motivation? 

On Personal Motivation

Before I answer, I want to say that being diligent and consistent with my tips helps prevent my motivation from waxing and waning. I am “rev’d up” almost all the time. So much so that my wife often says I have two speeds a) Full Speed and b) Dead Stop. I rarely experience loss of motivation and I believe I stay motivated through:

  1. Learning/Reading 
  2. Staying focused on my “why”, and 
  3. Always competing

My motivation has absolutely evolved over time, and I think it will for most people. I spent most of 2000-2004 fighting for my life. When I was sick in the hospital it was not only about surviving, but also reading and learning, which were the only outlets I had. 

When my career first started, the motivation I experienced came entirely from my prior life competing as an athlete, and I applied it to sales. I wanted to win. I wanted accolades and rewards, and they drove my behavior.

Now, as I begin the latest phase of my professional life, the “why” [family, freedom, fun] become more powerful motivators. It doesn’t mean the previous motivations are gone for good, it just means this one is the primary factor right now. I work hard to be able to spend more time with my family and do the things we love to do, when we want to do them. But I work when I want to work more than ever before, with less of a sense of obligation to a boss to do this work.

On Motivating others

As a leader I am constantly seeking new and creative ways to lead my teams. There are some really simple methods that I implement however that are probably equally if not more effective than anything else.

  • Write your goals down and share them.
  • Understand what you have to lose/gain and allow yourself to be held accountable.
  • Sharing what I’m reading/listening to that is pumping me up.
  • Reminding the team of how many difficult things they’ve already been through in their lives and how thankful we should all be for this opportunity in front of us. Gratitude is a great motivator.

If my team members and I are not in lock step we are inevitably going to clash. It is painful as a sales leader when you feel like you care more than some team members. You feel lost and hopeless and disappointed in your inability to help somebody. As a frontline team member it can be extremely demoralizing to feel like you care more than your leader. You seek out help and don’t receive feedback and go through each day feeling isolated and like you’re alone on an island without guidance.

The best teams have more people who are internally motivated and know how to manage themselves, their goals, their mindsets. However, I also think the best teams have open and clear communication. I think it’s absolutely essential that leaders and their team members communicate and discuss their motivations and reasons for being there. 

If you don’t know how to begin, try blocking out time each week during your 1-1s or pipeline reviews to ensure you discuss goals and motivations. If you are in a leadership role, perhaps sharing your goals and tricks for staying motivated will help your direct reports feel more comfortable in sharing their motivations and goals with you.

We need to know we’re on the same page/team and it helps tighten the bonds when we understand each other better. Think about these questions for yourself and what they mean to you. Powerful answers to be found and those lead to successful outcomes.

Scott Leese