Motivate the Whole Team

There's more to motivating your sales force than just rewarding the top producers, says Robert Pater, managing director of MoveSmart (, a Portland, Ore., consulting firm, and also a martial arts expert and author of Leading from Within: Martial Arts Skills for Dynamic Business and Management (Park Street Press, 1999). “Motivate novice reps with something that will help them to move up another level,” he suggests, such as bringing them to meetings with “mentor managers” they can learn from. “Don't use your highest-level producers,” he advises, “because they'll be too far beyond the beginners. The best choice would be mid-level producers, who will also enjoy the recognition of being asked to participate.”

Another way to motivate the whole team: Focus your attention on what the sales force is concerned about. From his practice of Wing Chun Kung Fu (a martial art developed by Bruce Lee), Pater says he has learned to focus his attention and other people's attention. He cites that ability as the secret of effective management. In a meeting, this can mean four potential levels of support:

  1. Just showing up
  2. Letting attendees know you care about their concerns
  3. Asking attendees to share their concerns
  4. Finding out how you can help

Finally, training is an effective motivator — if it's presented properly. “Don't just send your sales force to courses,” Pater says. “Tell them that you are doing it to thank them, to hone their potential, and to make them even more successful. I've seen too many cases where people thought they were being punished because their performance wasn't up to par. Make it clear that training is a reward.”