Managing and Motivating a Talented and Driven Sales Team Isn’t Easy

Roberta LewissmartPRENEUR Blog Series

Managing and motivating a seasoned sales force isn’t an easy feat by any means. 

The more successful a salesperson becomes, the more difficult it becomes to motivate and get them to participate in regular programs and incentives.  In fact, the top performers are the salespeople you’ll need to spend the most time managing.  The top sales performers are typically the top twenty percent of your sales personnel, probably generating over half of your monthly sales on any given month. 

It doesn’t take long for these guys to figure out the loopholes in incentive plans and structural procedures you have in place. When establishing incentive plans, including pay structures such as bonuses and incentives, you’ll need to keep this segment in mind when building and testing the plans.  

Money doesn’t motivate everyone equally. 

In one instance, where you are trying to sell older inventory in stock, you might create a SPIFF (Special Performance Incentive Fund), an immediate bonus for a sale. The SPIFF is already established on each item you’ve identified as needs-to-go, either discontinued model, return/replacements that you’ve refurbished, open-boxed items and other models the sales staff do not like nor want to sell.  All integration and sales businesses end up with stock they cannot move.

The organization’s top salespeople generally don’t care about SPIFF items, nor want to assist you in selling these items.  The top performers typically present/propose their unique go-to products, or the latest-greatest models now in stock, probably replacing these older models you are sitting on.  It is a dilemma, because the seasoned better salesperson is the best qualified to quickly sell these items that must move fast. The longer these items sit in your stock, the less money and profit will be made on each unit.  

So how do you motivate a sales staff, seasoned or not, to help you get rid of the identified SPIFF inventory?  

There is not one easy way.

  1. Publicly promote in-real-time, the SPIFF list, the total dollar value (at cost) of the amount you need to move.
  2. List the SPIFF sales leaders ranking for the month, update weekly prior to a weekly sales meeting. Include every salesperson on the list, so everyone can see who is selling, and more importantly, who is not.  The top salespeople never want to be on any list where they are not at or near the top, and never at the bottom.
  3. Recognize the top performers in some form each week (i.e., gift card). 
  4. Identify which salespeople are most likely to sell the items with the highest dollars, based on their brand preferences and ability to sell these items. 
  5. Approach each of the top performers with a list you would like them to “sell” personally.  Share that the monies not lost in old inventory are reinvested in the higher priced items they’d like to have more of in stock on going. Ask personally for their help with the items you’ve created on their unique SPIFF list. 

You’ll be surprised when you or your management staff can take each situation, or should I say opportunity, and turn it around by making it personal.  By asking them to help on an individual level on identified SPIFF products, based on their expertise, to sell these items, usually for a higher price than others could – they do. Make sure to share their personal efforts and success with the team on going.  This positive recognition reinforces their ongoing participation and results.  


This is just one situation and example for creating unique and personal solutions that work for motivating and managing top salespeople toward a goal/objective needed. Everyone wants to be viewed as valuable, important for the organization’s success, by their ability to make a difference with their personal effort and results.

About the Author

Roberta Lewis

Roberta Lewis is an industry veteran with over four decades of successful consumer electronics retailing, internet marketing, and manufacturing experience. Roberta Lewis and Associates was founded in 2005 to support the broad range of consumer electronics businesses including manufacturers, retailers, custom installation businesses, and group associations with marketing, advertising, public and consumer relations, product/brand awareness, and strategic sales management.