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Data Analysis on the Impact Managers Have Motivating Salespeople

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 9/23/18 7:30 PM

 No Motivation, No Change

There is a lot that goes into effective sales coaching, but the research and results are real and measurable. Yet, even though coaching is where half of a sales managers time should be spent, there is little to no formal training and coaching on how to coach in the sales context.

But even if it was an ideal world, and all sales managers were superhero sales coaches, it still wouldn't make the impact you want without the necessary motivation and accountability. Because without them, salespeople will say; “Yes, you are right! I will do that…” but then, they almost never will.

If there's no motivation, there is no change.

So what does the data and research tell us about how to motivate salespeople?

The Ability to Motivate and Be Motivated

The majority of sales managers, VPs, and CROs that I talk to wish they had more highly motivated salespeople who were ‘hungry’.

I tell them that tapping into what motivates your sales teams to continuously improve and set goals that are bigger than their quotas is like building a house in the country. Before you build anything, you have to find and drill for water. You can’t put the water where you want it, like you can in the city. But you can find it, tap into it, and direct it.

If there is no water to be found, you just can't build there. That’s why it is important to understand and ask what motivates your salespeople during the hiring process. Make sure there is water there before you invest in the expense of trying to build a house you can’t live in.

How are Top Salespeople Motivated?

The mistake I see many make is the assumption and belief that top salespeople are money motivated. Isn’t that why so many design compensation plans the way they do?

And therein lies the problem.

When you look at how the top salespeople are motivated, 80% are primarily intrinsically driven. In addition to this data from Objective Management Group, a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior reported that intrinsic motivation is a stronger predictor of job performance than extrinsic. The more people focus on money, the less they focus on satisfying their curiosity, learning new skills, or having fun. Those are the very things that make us perform best.

There is a reason that the majority of top performers are intrinsically motivated. By creating what science calls a cognitive dissonance, or a gap between where they think they are and where they actually are, those with an intrinsic goal will make greater efforts to bridge that gap.

The science of cognitive dissonance tells us that salespeople with the three elements of a personal motivation, a plan, and a way to track progress, will voluntarily engage in “(ethical) unpleasant activities in effort to achieve their desired goal.

Without that, you will have a hard time getting them to clean up their mess in the kitchen, never mind make a cold call.

So how much time should a manager be spending motivating their team?


Data source: 18,222 salespeople reporting to 3,744 managers evaluated by Objective Management Group.

The impact of time spent motivating the team peaks between 10% and 19%. The good news is that managers are averaging between 17-19% of their time motivating the team.

But there are some who are spending far more (36.11%). This could mean that if you are spending more that amount of time motivating, it isn’t anything more than cheerleading.

It could also mean it's time to examine your hiring process to screen for highly motivated salespeople.

Even with that, managers need training on how to motivate their team. 90% of sales managers only have half of the skills needed to motivate their team and only 21% have it as a strength. It’s no wonder when only 1-in-10 companies are training their sales managers, according to a study by the Sales Management Association.

The Ability to Motivate Matters

Sales managers with strong motivating skills have 17% stronger sales people.


Data source: 18,222 salespeople reporting to 3,744 managers evaluated by Objective Management Group.

That might not seem like a lot, but if you were to combine the 22% stronger salespeople who have managers with strong coaching skills with this 17% increase with strong motivating skills, that 39% difference is worth significant revenue.

Stay Tuned!

Subscribe to this blog to be among the first to read the next two articles that dig into the data even further. In these articles, we will examine the impact strong accountability has, what the combined impact of strong coaching, motivating, accountability, and time spent is, and how you can calculate how much revenue that could mean for your organization.

Topics: sales leadership, sales analysis