All sales leaders want to motivate reps to high levels of performance and retain their top earners. What’s the secret to success in these areas?
To find out, you might start by asking sales reps what they want in exchange for their hard work. And one of the first things they’re likely to say is higher commissions and bigger bonuses.
In some ways, this makes sense. Everyone wants a stable income and to be able to provide for themselves and their families. And because salespeople are competitive, they typically appreciate benchmarks to measure how they’re doing, and money is an easy indicator to look at. If they’re making $10k more this year than last year, they feel like a success. If they can finally afford to buy big-ticket items (cars, clothes, gadgets) they feel like everyone else knows they’re a success, too.
It is one thing to be motivated by money, but it’s another to use money as a means to happiness, fulfillment, and meaning. While sales reps don’t always talk about these things, these factors have a big influence on their decision to stay with your company or start looking around for the next opportunity.
Science suggests that, past a certain point, money does not make us any happier. This video from AsapSCIENCE points out that people generally adapt quickly to higher levels of income. Research has shown that, in North America, income beyond $75,000 has no impact on our levels of daily happiness.
If you believe that part of keeping reps motivated means keeping them happy, then maybe it’s time to stop relying so heavily on cash as an incentive.
Reps will always appreciate your help in getting to the next level financially. But if you help them learn to define success and happiness outside of money, that creates a valuable dynamic of trust and support. Those qualities can actually become your competitive advantage — companies that have deeper pockets to pay blowout commissions will be less of a threat to poaching your reps.
In fact, there is evidence to uphold the idea that money is not the greatest long-term strategy for keeping reps around. The fact that money can be fleeting might be something that older and wiser reps learn to understand on their own — Peak Sales Recruiting points out that, over the course of a sales rep’s career, research has shown that higher earners report lower levels of interest in more money.
Money comes and goes, but the value of strong relationships never fails. As a sales leader, what steps are you currently taking to motivate and retain your reps, beyond using money?