Many salespeople are Type A personalities who need no motivation beyond a bonus structure that rewards their efforts and success. Give them a phone, a car, a computer, and an open door, and they’ll blaze a trail to door-busting sales.
Or so goes the theory.
The reality is a different, far more nuanced story, one that highlights how many sales organizations might be missing the boat by not properly incentivising their salespeople. If the research reported in Daniel Pink’s book Drive is to be believed, humans (salespeople included) are as motivated by intrinsic rewards as they are by financial compensation and the other outward trappings of sales success.
According to Pink, human motivation is largely intrinsic; he attempts to divide it into three areas:
While intrinsic motivation is typically more powerful in the long run, the study on salespeople highlights how extrinsic motivation can be useful, too. Pink further explains how extrinsic motivation is ideal for tedious tasks and —activities like completing paperwork.—that provide little internal satisfaction. They can also improveHowever, extrinsic motivators can also result in internal satisfaction, such as a more flexible schedule that could allow a sales team member to spend less time on the road.
For sales team leaders, it’s essential to find constructive and effective ways to motivate team members—ways that have value to the individual but that do not move the sales staff from competitors to antagonists. The key is to make certain that the activities add value to the individual and to the team.