For this article, Sanitary Maintenance asked members of its advisory board for their insight and expertise on how to motivate sales people. Here’s what they had to say:

What are effective ways of continuously motivating sales people?

One way we motivate our associates is through making them better; building their skill sets, which enables them to reach their potential as well as perform at a very high level when interfacing with our customers. This accomplishes a couple of things: It shows our associates that we are willing to invest in their training and education. It also helps them interact at a higher level with our customers, which ultimately, allows them to exceed our customers’ expectations.  

— Rick Fiest, Executive Vice President, JanPak Inc., Davidson, N.C.

We have found the most effective way of motivating sales people is through an uncapped commission program coupled with myriad sales achievement programs, bonus plans and sales training. We have achievement programs that range from honoring sales rep of the month to sales rep of the year with cash awards attached. We also focus on increasing and maintaining sales skills through training. We keep them motivated by investing in their development as sales professionals.
— Charles Wax, President, Waxie Sanitary Supply, San Diego

I have never been a fan and I have never worried about “motivating” salespeople. I have always felt that if you share the overall company strategy and let them be part of that strategy, the motivation will naturally come. We look for salespeople that are competitive, love “the win,” and want to be part of a team.
— Chris Nolan, President, H.T. Berry Co., Canton, Mass.

Good communication is a huge component to motivate beyond an incentive and reward structure. So, often we speak to our sales representatives; but by listening we better understand the frustrations they face. It is recognizably not easy to be alone out in the market and things don’t always go perfectly. We are constantly challenging ourselves to provide resources for our sales representatives so they can stay focused on being in front of the customers. Communication with the sales team is comparable to the coach on the sidelines letting the people on the field know we want to win and we are there to help.
— Mark Melzer, President, NASSCO, New Berlin, Wis.

Motivation is always a big word and a challenge, what seems to work best for us is the momentum factor. Focus, focus, focus — with intensity and more intensity. This generates the momentum to make more sales.
— Paul “Dutch” Owens, President, Gem Supply, Orlando, Fla.

Sales promotions, awards at meetings, ranking performance on various lines.
— Hank Josephs, President, Spruce Industries, Rahway, N.J.

Spiffs and internal competitions are two great ways to motivate salespeople. Providing marketing materials, customer rebates to get the customer interested, and continually promoting products, not necessarily new products, but bringing back some popular items or items that have started to decline. Salespeople love to sell and talk. So the more you can provide opportunities to sell and talk about the products, the more they will sell.
— Eric Cadell, V.P. of Operations, Dutch Hollow Janitorial Supplies, Belleville, Ill.

There are numerous elements that can achieve that goal on the micro and macro level, but there is nothing more effective than a stable leadership with a consistent vision that is developed with transparency and collaboration of the entire team. More important is the willingness to execute that vision.

Salespeople and the entire staff need to genuinely feel that they are not a means for a short-term financial goal. When people are not alienated from the vision, process and fruit, then you have a cohesive team that does not need a short-term temporary incentive. They are always invested and motivated.
— George Abiaad, President, Royal Corp., Santa Fe Springs, Calif.