How To Combine Motivation with Accountability in Sales

By Mark McWatters, VP of Sales, Ambition
Four hands reaching for a carrot on a string attached to a stick.

In a time of increased remote work, the words “motivation” and “accountability” have become such common catchphrases that they’ve almost become synonymous with the very idea of working from home. Plus, let’s face it, working from home can feel isolating and overwhelming – resulting in a lack of motivation.

The reality: Sales leadership has lost their sales floors. This has led many sales leaders to wonder how to hold our reps accountable and motivate them while they all work from home.

But wait – salespeople have always spent much of their time in the field and away from the office. So this is simply another challenge in a different time.

Let’s take a closer look at some ways motivation and accountability play a role in a sales team’s success and some tools sales leaders can implement to help their reps stay on track.

Improve Company Culture to Boost Sales Productivity

The sales industry is one of the most intense and stressful industries out there. While many companies offer a base salary, most sales roles include a “not-guaranteed commission” that makes up roughly 50% of their total pay. So, not only are sales reps expected to close multiple deals; the idea of relying on commissions can add even more stress to a deal. Many times, this is the only thing holding them accountable — but it shouldn’t be.

It is easy to surmise that salespeople jump into this field just to make money. However, recognition is also a great way to motivate reps and improve company culture. A lot of the time, little wins can make a big difference in someone’s day. Simply setting up a demo request or sending a pricing sheet should be recognized by sales leaders. Celebrating those early-funnel KPIs can help motivate reps and encourage them to continue to reach the right selling behaviors. Recognition doesn’t mean it has to be a huge party or a $100 gift card. Sometimes, it’s just a simple one-to-one note or a call-out in a team stand-up that delivers a pat on the back.

For reps to achieve these small victories, however, they must know what early- and late-funnel KPIs they should be tracking toward. Give them the path to hit their number! The sales formula. How many meetings does it take to convert an opportunity? How many opportunities to closed-won? Teams without clarity on what they need to accomplish to meet organization goals simply aren’t able to be held accountable for their work. For leadership, establishing a clear set of expectations throughout the team is imperative. This allows reps to set and track goals based on those expectations. Creating a culture of proactive accountability can, in turn, help teams boost productivity and motivation.

Impact Individual Reps’ Success

Creating an environment where everyone is aligned toward a common goal helps individual sales reps stay on task with their personal responsibilities – which can help them remain accountable for those overarching company objectives. Additionally, teaching sales reps how their work fits into the larger picture can create a sense of pride and ownership in their work.

Through sales tracking, sales leaders can measure and visualize each rep’s contribution toward those larger team goals in real time. With visibility on where they currently stand, reps can see their targets and where they need to improve. This, in turn, helps teams become more motivated and productive. Also, utilizing gamification and competition strategies can help keep sales fun and motivate reps to hit both their individual and organizational goals.

Positively Affect the Company’s Performance

When your team is held accountable and motivated by the processes in place, they can devote more time and energy toward pushing the business forward. The great thing about accountability and motivation is that it inspires those to reach further and exceed their goals – also improving upon the company’s performance.

Salespeople who are productive and engaged oftentimes push their company to exceed competitors. In fact, according to a recent Gallup survey, highly engaged teams result in 21% greater profitability. Low morale and productivity are intangibles that greatly affect a company’s performance. For sales leaders, it is important to let your reps take the wheel – with parameters, of course. This will allow them to become more productive and happier, which can save time and improve your bottom line.

As we’ve mentioned, accountability can come in many different forms – and it’s not only for sales reps, but for sales leaders as well. Sales coaching is a way for sales leaders to help reps set achievable goals and provide feedback on performances to ensure they are staying motivated to grow at the company and are being held accountable for their performance. While many companies have implemented sales coaching, many do it incorrectly or do not follow through. In addition, many companies have implemented coaching but are not documenting it correctly; or, if it’s implemented and documented correctly, it isn’t properly tied to metrics.

Accountability starts from the top down and creates a snowball effect. If a sales leader isn’t taking sales coaching seriously, neither will their reps. Establishing accountability throughout the entire company, including with leadership, will create a more productive and successful organization.

Motivation and accountability are essential to a business. Without them, growth and success for any company will be hard to come by. As many companies still adapt to the struggles of working from home, finding out how to keep sales reps motivated and accountable should be at the top of an organization’s list. By implementing some of the sales tools mentioned above, there is no doubt your sales reps will be more successful – making your sales team happy and keeping your customers feeling fulfilled.

Mark McWatters is the VP of Sales at Ambition.