The science behind sales team motivation [Infographic]

Sales team motivation is no longer just carrots and sticks.

In fact, research from Daniel Pink has found that when it comes to complex and creative tasks like selling, extrinsic motivators (punishments and rewards) aren’t as effective as intrinsic motivators.

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 10.24.50 AMDaniel outlines his research in a TED Talk: Extrinsic motivators work for routine, algorithmic tasks. And that’s how sales used to be. Reps would memorize a script, reach out to prospects, respond to predictable objections over and over until they made a sale. Rinse. Repeat.

“Today, though, the transactional aspects of sales are disappearing,” Daniel writes in the Harvard Business Review. “When routine functions can be automated, and when customers and prospects often have as much data as the saleswoman herself, the skills that matter most are heuristic: Curating and interpreting information instead of merely dispensing it. Identifying new problems along with solving established ones. Selling insights rather than items.”

Daniel’s book “Drive” explains that heuristic work is — by far — most effectively motivated intrinsically. He outlines three powerful sources of intrinsic motivation (and how to think about them as a sales leader):

  • Autonomy (Reps want the ability to complete tasks in their own creative ways.)
  • Mastery (Reps want to become better at sales and business skills.)
  • Purpose (Reps want their work to contribute toward a larger goal.)

The great news is you can use these as sales team motivation. Here’s an infographic that explains what each intrinsic motivator is, how it works and what areas of sales you can apply it to for your reps.

3 ways to channel sales team motivation  

Have any other research-backed sources of sales team motivation? Let us know in the comments below!

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