Selling Power Blog

News & Insights for B2B Sales Leaders

August 28, 2023

The Massive Gap Between Sales Managers and Reps

By Jennifer Bosques Engle, Marketing Partnership and Events Manager, SalesScreen
Four larger lego people stand in a line in front of ten smaller lego people.

Sales is an innately emotional game, with most sales reps working to hit that quota and managers always trying to find ways to motivate their team to hit their true potential. This constant push and pull between managers and sales reps has led to a serious issue: Sales managers think they know how to motivate their team, but sales reps don’t agree. In a recent study we conducted across hundreds of sales reps and their managers, we found that 76% of managers think they know how to motivate their team but only 40% of sales reps agreed. So why does this gap exist and what does that mean for your sales team? Check out our full report here. Here are some of the crucial takeaways from our research.

Sales Managers & Reps Are On Different Wavelengths

Sales managers overwhelmingly believe that they are capable and cognisant of how to motivate and engage their sales team. As we mentioned before, 76% of all sales managers are extremely confident that they know how to motivate their entire team, but only 40% of their sales team agreed. This not only means that sales reps feel like they are getting left behind or looked over, they are also building a culture of animosity across the entire sales team.

An infographic shows the statistics for motivation between managers and reps

We’ve all heard the sports metaphors thrown out whenever we talk about sales, and if you are looking at your sales reps as a team and the manager as the coach, you are about to have a full-blown mutiny on your hands. This can come in the form of quiet quitting, disengagement, low motivation, or just bad attitudes. Any of these can be quarter killers, and when they are all happening at once, you can say goodbye to your pipeline. We recommend opening the lines of communication between your sales reps and managers in a safe and controlled environment. Having something like a feed where managers can see all the great work and call people out for doing great work is a great way to start recognizing more and struggling less.

Motivation = Morale

Low motivation is one of the most easily visualized struggles, as any manager with eyes can see numbers dropping, hear phone calls grinding to a halt, or just take a look at the recent sales reports. But poorly motivated sales teams often struggle with poor morale. According to our survey, 67% of sales managers struggling with low individual motivation also cited poor morale as one of their top struggles. So not only are their teams struggling just to pick up the phone or send out their sequences, they feel bad about it too. No sales rep wants to struggle, so working WITH your team instead of against them is key. Try reaching out to your reps individually to ask them what competitions they have enjoyed, what kind of work they’ve liked the most, and try to shift the conversation about how you as a manager can make the company a better place for them to work. A little bit of interest really goes a long way.

An infographic shows the statistics for morale between managers and reps

What Works For Some

If you have ever taken a personality test, you know that no two people are exactly the same, and your sales team is made up of four main player types, or personalities. We break them down using Richard Bartle’s player types of Killers, Socializers, Achievers, and Explorers. For example, you know that some of your sales reps love to crush every competition, no matter the metric, those are your killers. On the other hand, some reps really like working together to build better sequences and finish big projects, these are your socializers.

What we have discovered is that most sales managers fall under the killer player type, after all, their drive and motivation often shines in sales. These managers really know how to engage other killers, who only make up 14% of all sales reps, but oftentimes fall short when trying to motivate other personality types.

These insights are just the tip of the iceberg of our full report, so make sure you click here to get your free download! If you are interested in fully upgrading your sales team and motivating them to really hit their full potential, check out our full sales gamification program as well!

Headshot of Jennifer Bosques Engle

Jennifer Bosques Engle is Marketing Partnership and Events Manager of SalesScreen.