8 Guaranteed Ways to Demotivate Your Salespeople

Motivation comes from within, but you can demotivate your salespeople by the decisions you make. There are some things companies shouldn’t do that make it difficult for sales reps to maintain their drive.

One of the most common questions I get is: How do I motivate my sales reps? Motivation comes from within a person as a response to our beliefs about a particular situation. External factors can impact motivation though. It depends on the individual and the circumstances. Universally, there are things that organizations allow to go on long enough that can impact the performance of the team.

Here are eight (8) things to avoid that can erode the motivation of salespeople:

1. Violate their core drivers
This may sound obvious, but you’ve got to know what motivates your sales reps individually. Some prefer more one-on-one time with you than others. Don’t try to develop a relationship with a “I’ll call you when I need you” sales rep. Instead, be their coach and keep it to that. For others, you’ll need to take the out for coffee and know more about their family. As long as they’re achieving their sales goals, allow them the flexibility they desire.

Solution: Use a sales assessment that measures core drivers (motivation) and then discuss what those drivers mean personally to your sales rep.

2. Micromanagement
Micromanagement is the act of managing with great or excessive control, or attention to minor details. Although this is a subjective concept, think about an overbearing boss you’ve had in the past and then evaluate yourself or your managers within this framework. Some examples would be controlling or monopolizing sales calls, preventing sales reps from making decisions themselves, and constant updates on every sales opportunity.

Solutions: Train the sales manager to allow sales reps more autonomy or provide him/her with self-awareness training.

3. Poor compensation plan
When the effort is greater than the reward, salespeople lose interest. The compensation plan cannot be misaligned with the responsibilities of the job. In a very basic sense, pay out higher commissions and lower salaries for sales roles that require more hunting for new customers. Pay out lower commissions and higher salaries for farming existing customers.

Solution: Put yourself in shoes of sales reps and retool the compensation plan by basing commissions on equitable performance.

4. Insufficient training
Training for salespeople usually falls into four primary categories – sales, product, personal, and technical. Without addressing each of these at some level, sales reps have to fill the gap themselves, diffusing their focus – and eroding sales and motivation. Product training is not sales training. Never confuse the two.

Solution: Identify where the team as a whole needs development in addition to individuals. Personal development plans bring clarity to training needs.

5. Lack of resources
With little or no investment in sales collateral, prospect lists, CRM, customer profile data, or technology, sales reps become despondent, struggling to generate new business because they lack the proper tools. Be sure to provide your sales reps with the tools they need to be successful. Otherwise you’re spending a lot of money on very expensive admin’s and secretaries. All the while your competitors are taking your customers. How well have you provided time-saving, value-added resources to your sales reps?

Solution: Eliminate excessive data entry by replacing a poor performing salesperson with a data entry person to free up sales time for the reps.

6. Overpriced/Undervalued product
Unless you have very high-demand product, pricing must reside within a competitive zone for your customers to buy. Regardless of the value your salespeople present, at a certain point they cannot justify the price. If not, salespeople will feel defeated by always losing out on price. You never want your salespeople selling on price, so don’t make it difficult for them.

Solution: Survey your customers to get feedback about what they value and the competitive price they are willing to pay.

7. Poor customer service
Remember, your sales rep just landed an account based on a promise – the promise of your company delivering on the expectations that were set during the sales process. Not delivering on that promise makes salespeople look bad and they lose confidence in the company and motivation to continue selling. Companies must service accounts at the level they were sold.

Solution: Address this with the head of customer service. Clearly define the expectations for the CS people to maintain continuity with the sales reps.

8. Ethical violations
Violating trust, whether it’s a public matter or within the company, can quickly deflate the drive of your sales team. For example, if you commit to paying a 7% commission on a sale, and you decide to pay only 4% because the sales rep landed a large deal, then you run the risk of losing that rep and the motivation of others. Other ethical violations can also erode motivation.

Solution: If the team knows what happened, then deal with it head on. Don’t skirt the issue, cover it up, dismiss it, or excuse it. Hold perpetrators accountable quickly.

Don’t do these things that will demotivate your salespeople. If you find that your organization is doing any of these things, you can make the change in order to improve morale and motivation. Take an objective approach to evaluating your management practices and company policies. You may find that with some simple adjustments, your sales team will thrive – and thank you for it.