A Free Way to Motivate Reps

By Malcolm Fleschner

Sales managers are often told to do more with less; work smarter, not harder; and get peak performance from their teams despite increasingly limited resources. But there’s one motivational tool in the sales manager’s belt that is never in short supply: praise. Yet for some reason, many managers don’t use praise as a sales and motivation tool. The root cause of this usually stems from one of three reasons.

1. Sales managers don’t realize how much salespeople can learn from specific praise.

Many sales managers think praise means a pat on the back or “Great job on the call.” This is a nice thing to say, but it lacks strategy. Specific praise, however, can be a manager’s best friend and a great coaching tool. Try this instead: “That was a great open-ended question you asked at the end of the presentation, and it really helped the prospect open up. Nice job.” In some cases, this kind of praise can also serve as a segue to a longer coaching conversation on some specific aspect of the call.

2. Sales managers confuse recognition with praise.

Recognition is when you acknowledge a salesperson in front of his or her peers for exceptional performance, but a reward or prize is not praise. Recognition is a more general tool, whereas praise can and should be employed to achieve specific goals for improvement with individual salespeople.

3. Sales managers think it’s not their style to praise reps.

This is a case of sales managers holding themselves back from becoming better at their job. Giving praise has nothing to do with management style. Think about it: there’s not a profession in the world at which people are expected to prevail purely through natural ability. Any manager can learn to use specific, targeted praise until it becomes second nature. Learning to use praise effectively is just like any other sales-management best practice.

The best part? Praising your salespeople never costs you a dime.