Sales leaders typically compensate sales professionals with commissions alone or with commissions combined with a base salary. Unfortunately, in some sales organizations that monetary compensation also serves as the sole reward for achievement - the "feedback loop" for job performance. Sometimes it even substitutes for managing development.

In truth, every working person shows up for work for his or her own reasons; sales professionals are no different. Sales leaders need to be aware of this fact and recognize what motivates each member of their sales teams in order to manage each individual accordingly.  Likewise, sales professionals should also reflect on what (beyond money) motivates them and share this insight with their leadership team.

The usual reasons why most of us "show up" to work may be categorized as follows:

  • Rewards - income, bonus, promotion, recognition and perks
  • Security - feeling the organization cares about us and is looking out for us, assured employment and benefits that protect us from the uncertainties of life
  • Development - a chance to grow: opportunities to learn and improve, personally and professionally
  • Collegiality - feeling connected and supported - the sense of belonging to a team
  • Leadership - guidance from leaders we respect

The continuing challenge for sales leaders is to determine the relative importance and significance of each of these motivators for each sales professional within their sphere of influence. What is it that impassions each member of your sales team?

Assuming that everything "boils down" to money could not only be misguided, but it could lead to neglect of other possible incentives and result in dissatisfaction that could de-motivate the capable sales professional. Effective sales leaders maintain an open dialogue for prioritizing and defining their sales professionals' objectives. Wise sales professionals will facilitate this effort with productive and candid input.  This will set the stage for sales leaders to create the right work environment for sales professionals to perform and achieve to their fullest potential.