Sales Motivation: 5 Tips to Hit Quota

Motivating a sales team is undoubtedly one of the toughest parts of a sales manager’s job. The research shows the key to sales motivation is surprisingly simple: give a clear path to quota. These 5 tips will make your team more focused, happier, and more successful.

Watch this 3-minute video for 5 Tips to Hit Quota.


Provide Real-time Commission Tracking

Marathons are grueling. In that last mile, your body is completely spent. But still, the most common marathon finish time is 3:59, because people still find enough “gas in the tank” to beat the 4-hour pace-setter running ahead of them.

Adam Alter’s book, Irresistible, explains how this taps into a deep-seated need to hit targets, and how to harness this motivation. By giving real-time commission tracking software to your sales team, their motivation to hit quotas will remain high because they will be able to be focused on their work, without the distractions of worrying about their attainment or earnings.

Set Short(er) Term Targets

Targets that are closer in time are perceived in more clear and less abstract ways than targets that are further away in time. When a target is more clear, our brains begin to translate targets to tactics. This is the concept of temporal distance in construal level theory, a framework that explains how we determine the actions we take based on concepts.

To better understand temporal distance, imagine a vacation next year. Did you think about geographies, climates, and the general mood of the vacation? Now, imagine a vacation you would take next month. Most people tend to dial in a bit more. The geography is tighter. You start to think about specific places you might stay or eat. You even begin to think about books or podcasts you want to catch up on.

Providing clarity and reporting for commissions isn’t enough, using this sales motivation strategy, reps will be able to translate quotas into clear tactics.

Aim to Do Better Than Last Time

Another concept in construal level theory is experiential distance. Your reps probably already have ideas of what's working and what could improve. Setting targets this way comes pretty naturally in other settings, yet few of us use it in a professional setting.

Your sales team's tactics become very clear when framed in relation to previous performance. If you achieved 50% of quota last quarter, what would you do to achieve 75%? Would you do more outbound? Would you improve your product knowledge?

Turn Off the Sales Leaderboard

This tip is the most counter-intuitive. We tend to think of salespeople as “competitive," but research from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania tells us the exact opposite: stack-rank leaderboards reduce overall performance, including the performance of star sales reps!

Sales leaderboards emphasize upward comparisons, which damage our self-image and performance. This research leaves us an important lesson: sales motivation is personal and internal. Your motivation strategies should help your reps improve their absolute performance, not just their relative performance.

Encourage Meditation

Meditation cultivates “attentional skills” according to research from New York University. An fMRI study of the brain activity of Tibetan monks, who were experienced in meditation, showed activity in both extrinsic (task-oriented, fight or flight) and intrinsic (self-reflection, rest and digest) networks of their brains.

This is critical for your team. Increased self-awareness is foundational to improved sales motivation. Your team needs time to "digest" the feedback that they’ve been given and personalize quotas and sales tactics. When using certain meditation techniques (like goal visualization) people feel that their goals are 30% closer, the process to achieve them feels 17% easier, and they increase speed to the goal by 23%. What would those numbers mean to your team's quota attainment?

Want even more advice on how to help your team hit quota every time? Watch our on-demand webinar, 100% OTE: Using Your Comp Plan to Hit Your Number.