Ask the Experts | How to Motivate Your Sales Team

Question: What can we do to motivate our sales guys to get to the next level?

Gary Elekes; Founder, EPC Training:

Motivation comes from within. It’s not something that you or I can do for them. What we can do is create an environment for prosperity and success – an environment that helps people feel motivated. You can definitely demotivate but you can’t really motivate people.

Getting up and going to the gym every day is something that you either like to do or you don’t like to do. I can force that issue by knocking on your door and dragging you out of bed to the gym but that’s not you being motivated, that’s me forcing you to go and creating an environment that’s meant to check and make sure that it happens.

Getting your salespeople to the next level is about challenging and inspiring them to question: What is the next level? Back in the day, $1.2 million to $1.4 million was the comfort advisor sweet spot. Today, closer to $1.8 million is the sweet spot, especially in the southern markets where there are minimum standards of 14 and above. We’re selling a lot more high-efficiency systems today than we ever have. The next level might be, say, $4 million per salesperson. For some of the company Weldon Long works with, $4 million might be an average mark for a comfort advisor, so maybe $8 million would be the next level.

You need to know where your next level is. You want to empower your salespeople and invest in employee development and training, and you want to challenge people with competition. Competition can be good or bad, depending on the context in which it’s framed. If you’re creating a competitive environment where people are having fun with it – The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack would be a great example of it – you’re in a position where that’s going to be helpful.

If you’re in a position of leadership and you’re creating competition – and it’s based on rewarding or enhancing the one or two winners – I think what happens is the rest of the team can be a little demotivated by that. So, create a culture of success. To me it’s all about culture.

In our businesses, we’re never done. Innovation is one of our core values. We’ve got a whole series of core values in our web business and we’ve been Inc. 5000 for four years. It’s our goal to get to year five and year six and try to innovate and achieve the next level. If we don’t keep growing and aspiring to be better than we’ve been – which is our definition of next level – we aren’t going to be successful.

We have celebrations each quarter, we have end-of-the-year celebrations, and all different kinds of things that promotes a success-driven environment. What we’re trying to do is to put people in the position to feel good about the work. So, next level to me is a culture, it’s a leadership style, and it’s a way to get people to feel satisfied about their work. It should be more of a journey and less of a destination.

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