We’re on a #1 Sales Gamification Winning Streak in G2’s Spring Report! 😎 
SalesScreen Logo
What Motivates Your Salespeople?

Often, I get asked by sales managers how they can recruit, hire, and retain top talent without breaking the piggy bank. The belief seems to be that money trumps all and there’s just no way to keep good salespeople for more than a few years. While this is an understandable frustration, it’s far from accurate.

There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Extrinsic is easier to achieve, but often short-lived while intrinsic is difficult to achieve but often long-lasting. So, in order to learn how to motivate people, we first need to understand a bit more about the differences between these motivation types.

Generally speaking, extrinsic is the carrot and stick… what can you offer to someone as reward or motivation for them to complete a task. Sadly, in the workplace, extrinsic motivation strategies are the most common because they’re the easiest. Financial incentives such as bonuses and compensation are the most common in sales.* However, the problem with extrinsic motivators is that they are not long-lasting*. In other words, someone who works hard for a bonus may leave when the bonus is no longer available or no longer meets what they think is fair.

On the other hand, intrinsic motivators are those that inwardly motivate people, such as a clear sense of purpose towards a cause they care about. People who work for non-profits or donate to charity are good examples of intrinsic motivation… but, how can you leverage this into workplace performance? In order to do so, you’ll first need to chat with your employees and find out what really drives them. Why do they get out of bed in the morning? If you can answer this question, you create a unified, cohesive and truly motivated workforce, instead of one that just chases the carrot.

What Motivates Your Salespeople?

By leveraging individual motivations in your coaching strategies and incentives plans, you show your employees that you really do care enough to put in an effort to thank them for their hard work. While basic financial incentives and bonuses are important (and you definitely should not remove them!), it’s kind of like getting cash or a sweater from grandma at Christmas. While it sort of motivates, it’s not really ideal.

We’ve found that the best motivations are to have 1-on-1 sessions to figure out what people really want, and then to create normal targets plus stretch goals. For instance, if someone achieves their quota for the month, that’s what’s expected of them… but if they go above target and reach 110%, 125%, 150%, etc then it makes sense to provide additional incentive and rewards. The additional incentives aren’t always big, either. Here’s an example:

  • 110% of quota — bottle of wine and round of applause from the team
  • 125% of quota — lunch with the CEO or sales director
  • 150% of quota — one “free day”of vacation to use anytime this quarter

To set these goals, it’s easiest to make a list of awards based on price range and then chat with the reps to see which targets they want to set for themselves.

For instance, the list of 110% quota achievement prizes could include: bottle of wine, six pack of favorite craft beer, 2 movie tickets, a box of chocolates, catered lunch for a day, etc etc.

Then you simply set a prize range for each award and ask the sales rep to name some prizes that they find most motivating and continue this list of options for the 125%, 150%, etc categories.

You can also do this for team quota goals, so that there are a myriad of rewards for reaching targets. Someone may not hit every monthly goal, but can still benefit from the team rewards, which will build camaraderie and spirit. Team prizes could range from volleyball or other sports activities to paintball, gokarts, lazer tag, concerts, or even travel destinations. This year if we hit our goals, the whole company goes to Barcelona. Do you think that motivates us to work hard? You betcha! Do you think that by partying together for a week in Barcelona we’ll build even stronger company culture? Heck yes!

In addition, you can do this for month, quarter, year, etc. This gives a really full list of incentives and motivation for the sales reps and it builds cohesion with the managers by having them sit down and learn about individual motivators.

What Motivates Your Salespeople?

You can also ask about some other important topics during the 1-on-1, such as:


  • What comes to mind when you hear the word “sales?”
  • What type of salesperson do you want to be known as?
  • What type of KPIs should we set for you and what can you achieve?
  • What makes sales enjoyable for you?
  • What do you dislike about sales?
  • What type of team dynamic would you like to see and how can we create it?


  • What type of position would you like to work up to?
  • What are your personal and professional goals?
  • What are some of the things you want in life? Are you most motivated by material items, relationships, time, experiences?
  • What are your career aspirations (short and long term)?
  • How will this position help you to become a better leader?


  • What is most important to you in life? How can we help you enjoy more of it?
  • What inwardly motivates you?
  • How can we help you achieve satisfaction beyond just salary and bonus? How can we help you achieve extraordinary goals or values?

The most important part here is to keep the questions simple and just listen. Let them answer and try not to guide them. Make sure to discuss values and goals and motivations. If you ask too many questions up front the process can become daunting and the answers watered down.

If you can manage to do this properly and learn what really motivates your people, you can then offer them incentives that far outweigh cash or bonuses… allowing you to recruit, hire, and retain your top talent. It takes time and effort, but it may be the most important conversations that you have as a manager.

Good luck!

Our latest blog posts

Go to Blog overview
We're on a Winning Streak: Ranked #1 Sales Gamification Software by G2

We're on a Winning Streak: Ranked #1 Sales Gamification Software by G2

April 7, 2017

2023: A Year in Review

2023: A Year in Review

April 7, 2017

SalesScreen Ranked #1 Sales Gamification Software by G2

SalesScreen Ranked #1 Sales Gamification Software by G2

April 7, 2017

Our Holiday Gift to You..a new Reward Shop!

Our Holiday Gift to You..a new Rewards Shop!

April 7, 2017

Turning Your Gen-Z Sales Team Spirit into Sales

Turning Your Sales Team Spirit into Sales

April 7, 2017

You think older generations don’t respond to gamification? The data says differently.

You think older generations don’t respond to gamification? The data says differently.

April 7, 2017

Go to Blog overview

This is the closer. If you’re not convinced yet, no coffee for us.

Give us some details, not too much, not too little, just enough to talk to you about our results, company and what we believe in.

Reviewed Favorably By Industry Experts

Leader Spring 2024
Momentum - Spring 24
Most Implementable Spring 24

By submitting this form, you consent to be contacted on how SalesScreen can help your organization.