Candice Coots
Content Marketing at SetSail
Table of contents:

If you want to hit record sales numbers and drive more revenue, you need to tap into sales motivation strategies that will get your reps hungry and firing on all cylinders.

In an ideal world, setting targets and monetary rewards for hitting those targets would be enough to push your reps to 100%.

But it’s not.

No two reps are the same, and everyone has different motivational needs.

Motivating sales reps is a complex process that requires dynamic thinking, a personalized approach, and is an ongoing process.

To help you out, in this article, we’re looking at 27+ of the best sales motivation strategies that work in 2021.

Most of which can be achieved, or at least aided by using the right software.

Sales used to be an all-or-nothing game. Make a sale, get a commission, and be praised for making that sale.

There was no way to progress you towards that win and increase your chances of winning. Because of that, most reps didn't hit their quota, and they quickly lost motivation.

20% of reps driving 80% of the revenue on average has become a norm.

With new data available and this shift to digital and machine learning, that is changing.

It turns out the best reps do the basics right at the right moment during the sales cycle.

Download our Signal-Based Selling eBook to learn how to focus sales on the signals that close deals and motivate reps to perform better.

To find out more about how you can motivate your sales rep to perform better than drive more revenue, here are 27+ of the best motivational strategies:

The Importance of Motivating Sales Reps

The importance of motivating sales reps cannot be overstated.

Motivated reps perform better, and reps that perform better make more sales and are less likely to leave and find another job. Motivation is also contagious. It helps build a healthy and positive culture of winning.

On the flip side, unmotivated reps not only have a poor performance for themselves, but they can drag down the entire sales team.

The good news is, it has never been easier to motivate reps than right now.

We have more data to work with than ever before, we have intelligent sales software that helps both sales reps and sales leaders better perform in their roles, and we better understand what makes sales reps tick.

27+ Sales Motivation Strategies That Really Work

If you’re looking for innovative and dynamic sales motivation strategies that work right now, then read on for 27 proven strategies you can start using today:

1. Set Great Rewards

Sales rewards are one of the most tried and tested and proven tools for motivating reps—rewards work. There is no doubt about it.

This doesn’t mean you can set any old rewards, however. The better the prize, the more motivating it’s going to be for reps.

The best part is, this doesn’t always mean you have to set expensive rewards. Sometimes thinking outside of the box and offering something personal, unique, or different will stir up some motivation.

You’ll know your team better than anyone. Maybe they’d like tickets to a sports game? Or, maybe some time off?

You could even offer to take one or more of your reps out for a meal if targets are met. This way, you can get to know them a bit better and strengthen your bond with your team.

2. Use Data-Driven Gamification

Gamification replicates the benefits of social networks and online games within selling. Essentially, creating a more engaging and fun selling environment.

The issue for a lot of companies is that gamification is being done the wrong way. It’s not tied to data, and this year is the year you need to switch to data-driven motivation and gamification.

Using SetSail, you can leverage data points to see exactly how each of your sales reps performs against their targets and in a global leaderboard.

You can then set monetary rewards for reaching quotas, encourage collaboration or friendly challenges, and promote a fun and more productive selling environment.

3. Improve Communication

The basic premise of sales is good communication, as is teamwork, and growing an organization.

The importance of communication simply cannot be overstated.

Communication is also a constant. Therefore, it’s something that you will have to continually work on and adjust as the need arises.

One thing we do know for sure, however, is that by being very deliberate about improving communication within your sales team, you’ll improve morale and motivation.

A few of the ways you can improve communication include:

  • Setting regular team and individual employee meetings
  • Always explain why you’re asking reps to do things
  • Always be available and always listen to what reps have to say
  • Keep workflows transparent
  • Share the data you’re using to make strategic decisions
  • Create collaborative selling environments

4. Build Trust

Trust sets the foundation for sound business practices, both internally and externally. Without establishing trust, you’re never going to get the best out of your reps.

It’s important to note that trust has to be a two-way thing, too. You need to tell and show your reps that you trust them and earn that trust back by backing up your actions.

Building trust starts by being supportive, honest and setting a good example. You need to be able to hold yourself accountable, too, and admit when you get things wrong.

Over time, as trust builds within your sales team, you’ll notice a positive impact on the intrinsic motivation of both individual reps and your team as a whole.

5. Ask Your Reps How They Want to Be Managed

Managing sales reps is hard. It’s not a task everyone is cut out for.

Everybody has a different personality and responds differently to different management styles. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to being a manager.

Some reps may need to be micromanaged, and they will respond well to it. On the other hand, some reps may be pushed to quitting if they feel like they don’t have the freedom to do their job independently .

Moreover, if you give some reps autonomy and the freedom to manage their own workload, they’ll flourish and continue to surprise you.

The simplest way to find out how to best manage a rep is to ask them how they want to be managed. Ask them what will make them the most comfortable, and you’ll find the answer to how you can best motivate them.

6. Create Goals and Targets

As we discussed, rewards are one of the main motivating driving forces for sales reps.

The way reps get those rewards is by achieving their sales goals and hitting targets. Sales have revolved around setting goals for almost as long as selling has existed. This is nothing new.

What is new is how we should be setting goals to motivate sales reps in this digital age of selling.

Sales used to be an all-or-nothing game; make a sale, get a commission. It worked like this because we lacked the kind of quality, granular sales data tools like SetSail provides today.

Using SetSail, you can identify the small wins that make the big wins possible for your team. You can then use this data to create actionable, smaller goals that will build your reps’ confidence and increase their motivation as they naturally progress towards that big sale.

7. Proactively Identify Coaching Needs

Sometimes motivating sales reps is not enough on its own. A rep also needs the tools, confidence, and skills to reach their goals - otherwise, they’ll quickly feel demotivated as those rewards are out of reach.

With the right combination of motivation, natural talents, and coaching, we know that each and every sales rep can exceed their goals (and potential).

SetSail collects more data points than any other software on the market today. Giving you deeper insights into precisely what each of your reps are doing well and the things they’re doing not so well.

This gives you data-backed insights into the areas where reps need coaching—enabling you to proactively offer the support they need to perform better.

8. Create a Global Sales Leaderboard

We already touched on how setting the right goals and using gamification helps motivate sales reps.

With SetSail, we found a way to combine both of these elements by creating one of the most comprehensive sales leaderboards of any sales software.

A global leaderboard enables everyone to see - in visual form - exactly how they are progressing towards their targets and where they rank against one another.

We made it possible for reps to send each other words of encouragement (or friendly banter) to one another and for sales leaders to set monetary rewards that reps can automatically collect upon hitting their targets.

9. Give Their Work a Deeper Meaning

A quote from business coach and best selling author Jim Collins best explains the impact of giving employees’ deeper meaning in their work:

“It is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.”

Finding meaning in work starts with defining goals and identifying the mission.

If you can communicate to your reps how their actions are helping your customers and contributing to the business’s overall success, they’re going to feel more responsible for the role they play.

10. Let Your Reps Know They’re Valued

A survey carried out by the American Psychological Association found that employees who feel valued at work displayed better mental and physical health, were more engaged with their work and co-workers, and were far more motivated than those who did not feel valued.

How do you make your reps feel more valued?

Some key actions form the foundation for helping reps feel more valued, these are:

  • Giving them some freedom to manage their work schedule and environment
  • By identifying coaching and training needs and investing in their development
  • Compensating them fairly and setting out a clear career progression path
  • Communicating and involving them in decision-making discussions
  • Setting rewards that go beyond simple monetary rewards, such as time off, recognition, etc.

11. Put Collaboration Before Competition

The sales environment is a competitive one by nature. With individual targets and quotas, and career progression on their minds, it’s easy for reps to get tunnel vision on their own goals.

Unless this is properly managed, however, this can cause unhealthy rivalries and can harm motivation within a team.

You need to remind your reps from time to time that their ultimate goal is to compete against your competitors.

It’s by claiming a larger market share as a team that everyone will benefit the most. Spending time sharing knowledge, mentoring new hires, and establishing excellent communication will raise everyone’s game.

12. Celebrate Small Wins as a Team

Using tools like SetSail to collect and analyze sales data, we’re constantly learning more about how the smaller wins stack up to make the bigger wins possible.

We’re talking about identifying activities like follow-ups, emails, calls, arranging meetings, any of those customer interactions that contribute to closing a sale.

We also know that celebrating wins as a team has a huge motivational influence on sales reps.

So, by combining these two things and celebrating those small wins as a team, you can lift the morale of your team and motivate more of your reps to achieve more of these ‘small wins.’

This will, in turn, bring more of the big wins into the picture without having to focus on chasing that sale.

13. Use Sales Intelligence to Better Understand Your Customers

Sales intelligence is the process of tracking, monitoring, and analyzing every interaction and aspect of your sales process.

This is only made possible - at least to a high degree of accuracy - by using sales intelligence software like SetSail.

SetSail tracks every meaningful customer interaction, from phone calls and messages to the micro-actions helping move your prospects along the sales pipeline. It then uses a combination of AI and behavioral science to turn sales intelligence into actionable insights.

You can use these insights to empower your reps with the kinds of insights and knowledge into what their customers want that they wouldn't otherwise be able to get.

This effectively gives your reps ‘inside knowledge’ when communicating with customers, which is a huge motivation booster.

14. Use Tools to Eliminate Repetitive Tasks

Ask any sales rep what the most significant frustration they face is, and most will tell you that they spend too much time on repetitive and administrative tasks and not enough time selling.

In fact, it’s estimated that, on average, reps only spend one-third of their time actually selling.

This is an obvious problem that affects how much revenue your reps are bringing in. The solution to this problem is using machine learning and AI to automate repetitive tasks.

SetSail is designed to identify these same tasks and automate or streamline many of those high-impact tasks that are keeping reps from being on the front line selling.

Sales reps are at their happiest when they’re doing what they enjoy and what increases their compensation; selling.

15. Know Your Rep’s Strengths and Weaknesses

A study published in the 2015 Strengths at Work Survey report revealed that 71% of employees who believe their managers can name their strengths feel more energized and motivated by their work.

Not only is it encouraging to reps to know that you are interested and invested enough to identify their strengths and weaknesses, but it also enables you to help them play to their strengths and work on their weaknesses.

16. Help Them Spend More Time Selling

As a sales leader, one of your most important tasks is helping your reps spend more time doing what they do best and what moves the needle - selling.

This is one of the areas where you’ll realize the impact of using SetSail. SetSail helps you identify tasks that you can automate, and provides insights and solutions into how you can automate those tasks.

A lot of users find SetSail also helps eliminate some time-consuming tasks that just aren’t needed. Streamlining their sales processes and reducing the time customers are spending in their pipeline.

17. Get Creative

The same list of traditional motivational strategies pop up everywhere, and for some sales teams, they work perfectly well.

For some teams, however, they don’t. If you’ve hit a wall trying to motivate your reps using ‘tried and tested methods, it’s time to get a little creative.

Many ideas that will work with your reps will need to be tailored to your organization. To give you some ideas to get started with, you could try:

  • Offering to take out the top salesperson for dinner
  • Arranging a 1-on-1 with the CEO of the company for a top performer
  • Allowing your team to come up with their own rewards
  • Organizing a fun team building day out, like paintballing, bowling, etc
  • Awarding the top seller their own parking space

18. Be Proactive About Offering Support

‘Support’ is one of the motivational buzzwords that gets thrown around a lot. But what does it really mean to you, and how can you provide the support your reps need?

How you support an individual rep will depend on their needs, but the core of supporting sales reps revolves around:

  • Employing the right technology to help them better perform in their role
  • Helping them better quality leads
  • Empowering your reps with knowledge and free-flowing communication
  • Identifying coaching needs and providing a solution
  • Being available and listening to their needs

As you can see, most of how you can support reps are facilitated by using the right software.

All of which is possible by employing SetSail.

SetSail collects more data points than any other software. Giving you deeper insights into exactly how your reps are performing and helping you identify personalized support solutions that will motivate your reps to be the best version of themselves.

19. Lead By Example

One of the cornerstones of being a great leader is leading by example. In the context of being a sales leader, this means showing your reps what is possible and helping them improve.

When you lead by example, you create a clear picture of what’s possible. This makes goals a lot more tangible for reps and will motivate them to push harder.

This doesn’t mean outselling your reps. That’s not your role. You can leverage your sales data to identify the small wins that are making a difference and show your reps to achieve those one at a time.

Keep in mind. The best reps do the basics right. They focus on achieving more of the small wins that lead to the big wins. It’s your role to lead by example and help your other reps replicate the actions of your top performers.

20. Help Identify Smaller Wins that Lead to the Big Wins

We’ve talked about how it’s crucial you get more of the smaller wins right if you want to achieve more of the bigger wins.

But how do you identify those critical smaller wins?

By using intelligent sales tracking software like SetSail, that’s how. It’s the only way you can accurately identify the small wins within your own sales cycle that are making the difference.

SetSail is designed to identify those high-impact small wins by collecting sales data points and leveraging AI and behavioral science to drive insights into what these actions are and how they’re impacting your results.

21. Outline a Path for Progression

Two of the most significant issues and costs associated with creating and maintaining a sales team for most organizations are ramp time and churn rate.

The average ramp time for a sales rep is between six and nine months, and the average sales rep tenure is just 1.5 years.

That means most organizations are looking at having just nine months to a year out of a sales rep operating at maximum productivity - if they’re lucky.

One of the main reasons sales reps leave an organization is the lack of clear career progression. Reps are hungry for new challenges and progression. If you don’t set up a clear path with achievable goals, their motivation will wane.

22. Don’t Micromanage Your Reps

We’ve touched on how important it is to build trust and how giving reps some autonomy to do their best work is a huge motivation driver.

Micromanaging reps has the opposite effect. It’s not always deliberate, a lot of sales leaders do not even realize when their micromanaging reps, and most do it with the best intentions.

But it’s worth taking a step back and evaluating how closely you’re managing your reps and the effect it may be having on their productivity and motivation.

Being overbearing and controlling how a rep goes about their work demonstrates you do not trust them. Identifying coaching needs and offering support to help them improve shows you trust them and are willing to invest in them.

23. Don't Blame or Shame

Sales is a competitive environment by nature. There will always be ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in terms of who is topping the sales leaderboard.

To truly motivate your team, you need to be very careful not to shame or blame any reps who are underperforming publicly.

Creating a blame culture has been found to have a negative impact on motivation. It reduces productivity and increases turnover.

Motivation often starts at the bottom. More specifically, by helping underperforming reps understand how they can start making small improvements.

You can use SetSail to both identify the winning behaviors of your top reps and help other reps replicate them. As well as identifying the weaknesses of your underperforming reps, and offer coaching tailored to their individual needs.

24. Streamline Onboarding for New Reps

Motivating reps is an ongoing process and a long-term game. It needs to start the moment they enter a company’s ecosystem and begin onboarding. Otherwise, they will leave before you get the chance to see their potential.

Around 20% of new hires leave within 45 days, increasing to 40% within six months.

Meaning, you’re not going to get the chance to see the best almost half of your new hires have to offer if you don’t have a streamlined and effective onboarding system.

On the flip side, research has shown that organizations with a robust onboarding process are 82% more likely to retain new hires, and the productivity of those hires will be improved by 70%.

The best way to streamline your onboarding process is to use the right technology. While the content-focused approach or leaving reps to digest company information is no longer as practical.

Using SetSail, you can take a data-driven approach to streamline a new hire’s onboarding experience and personalize it to them.

You can monitor how well they’re progressing, identify training needs early, provide the right coaching for them, and ultimately help equip them with the tools and knowledge they need to become a valued part of your team.

25. Promote Teamwork

Sales can easily feel like a solo effort. Reps have their own goals and targets to meet, they’re often competing against each other, and there is only so much room for career progression.

But the truth is that teamwork is what helps raise everyone’s game and motivates reps to perform better.

By leveraging the insights SetSail gives you into how your reps are performing, you can get your entire team on the same page and accelerate your revenue.

Having 20% of reps driving 80% of the revenue became the norm because we didn’t have the technology to reveal exactly what the winning behaviors of the 20% were.

We now have this technology, and we’re entering an exciting time for sales progression.

Using SetSail, you can create a culture of winning by identifying and sharing winning behaviors. This helps strengthen bonds among sales reps and promotes teamwork.

26. Praise Reps in Front of Everyone

Just as shaming or blaming a rep publicly is terrible for motivation. Publicly praising reps for small (or big) wins publicly is huge for motivation.

This can be as simple as literally shouting out to someone across the office for a job well done. In addition, it could mean handing out awards, starting a ‘win chart,’ or surprising reps with awards for their performance.

27. Use the Right Sales Tools

Ultimately, while there are tried and tested motivation strategies that go back as long as sales have been around - using modern sales tools like SetSail is by far the easiest way to motivate reps.

Sales is constantly changing. In fact, sales today looks nothing like it did just ten years ago.

We’re in a digital age right now, so it should come as no surprise that reps need sophisticated and intelligent sales tools to adequately perform in their roles.

The more technology you give your reps to automate, streamline, and make their roles more straightforward, the more motivated they will be when performing in their roles.


Motivating sales teams is challenging at times, but it’s easier than it has ever been with the right technology.

That’s where SetSail comes in.

SetSail is the first Signal-Based Selling software to combine AI and behavioral science to help businesses turn their sales data into better sales behaviors.

This intelligent software uses a data-driven approach to build custom end-to-end solutions that make a real difference to how sales teams perform.

SetSail is relied on by huge global brands like HubSpot, Cisco, and Dropbox. It’s a true end-to-end solution to help you gain insights into how your sales team is performing and ways you can improve productivity and performance. Tour the product →