Motivating the Sales Team


Tim J. Smith, PhD
Founder and CEO, Wiglaf Pricing

Published September 12, 2005

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.

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About The Author

Tim J. Smith, PhD, is the founder and CEO of Wiglaf Pricing, an Adjunct Professor of Marketing and Economics at DePaul University, and the author of Pricing Done Right (Wiley 2016) and Pricing Strategy (Cengage 2012). At Wiglaf Pricing, Tim leads client engagements. Smith’s popular business book, Pricing Done Right: The Pricing Framework Proven Successful by the World’s Most Profitable Companies, was noted by Dennis Stone, CEO of Overhead Door Corp, as "Essential reading… While many books cover the concepts of pricing, Pricing Done Right goes the additional step of applying the concepts in the real world." Tim’s textbook, Pricing Strategy: Setting Price Levels, Managing Price Discounts, & Establishing Price Structures, has been described by independent reviewers as “the most comprehensive pricing strategy book” on the market. As well as serving as the Academic Advisor to the Professional Pricing Society’s Certified Pricing Professional program, Tim is a member of the American Marketing Association and American Physical Society. He holds a BS in Physics and Chemistry from Southern Methodist University, a BA in Mathematics from Southern Methodist University, a PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Chicago, and an MBA with high honors in Strategy and Marketing from the University of Chicago GSB.