How do managers motivate salespeople to perform? Much research has revealed a number of tools that managers can deploy to motivate their sales team. Some of the tools can be considered as structural in nature, affecting the manner in which the job is done; the company interacts with its salespeople; the salesperson perceives their job; the compensation package encourages specific behavior. Other factors are non-structural, depending more upon the sales manager him/herself and the relationship he/she builds with the sales team.

It is perhaps the non-structural factors, the factors that depend upon the sales manager and the sales person themselves, that matter more in determining the performance level. Given a good leader, a salesperson will charge into any task despite the odds of success or the expected pay-out in order to please their manager. Moreover, a highly motivated salesperson will perform despite poor incentives and poor structure, and maybe even to spite poor leadership. But the essence of leadership, or innate characteristics that drive individuals to perform in all situations, is a subject of another set of articles.

In the following two articles, we look briefly at the structural factors that motivate sales performance and variations in their deployment.