Sales Management, Motivation and the Bottom Line

Bob Urichuck

Sales Management, Motivation and the Bottom Line

Sales management is expected to keep the front line—the sales team—motivated to contribute to the company’s bottom line.

But, how can someone motivate others if they themselves are not motivated?

You already know that motivation is not something you do to another. You can only motivate yourself. As the sales manager, all you can do is create an environment in which each team member motivates themselves.

So, what motivates sales managers? How do they stay motivated? We can draw valuable insights from the results of the Insigniam 2014 Middle Management Survey.

What Matters to Middle Management?

In 2014, Insigniam surveyed middle management in Global 1000 companies. Their results are based on responses from 200 managers in the healthcare, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, manufacturing, fast moving consumer goods, energy, and biotech industries.

Insigniam asked middle managers to think about the factors they felt are most motivating to them in their job environment, whether those factors are external things that encourage them to deliver top results, or internal motivators that give them the drive to succeed in their position.

Some 37 percent of managers responded that the type of work they do motivates them, while 21 percent said they are motivated most by leading others.

Reputation and recognition play a key factor for 15 percent of managers, who are motivated by being well thought of or praised. Managers are also devoted to producing high-level results for clients, as 11 percent are motivated by their client or customer expectations.

Only 3 percent of managers find their leader or leaders to be a primary source of motivation, another 3 percent are motivated by the need to be promoted.

As Insigniam notes, middle managers are motivated by the work they do and the people they lead. A key insight was that: “the bigger and more plentiful the opportunity for making a meaningful contribution to the future of their enterprises, the more satisfied the middle manager.”

Insignium reported that 81% of middle managers believe their work makes a difference.

Another recent study quantifies purpose as a key factor in retention. Partnered with the Harvard Business Review, The Energy Project 2013 survey found that the way people feel at work profoundly influences how they perform.

…employees who derive meaning and significance from their work were more than three times as likely to stay with their organizations — the highest single impact of any variable. These employees also reported 1.7 times higher job satisfaction and they were 1.4 times more engaged at work.

Obstacles and Implications

We know that acting as both leaders and coaches, good managers are essential in bringing out the best in others, ensuring happy and motivated teams. And it’s common knowledge that a motivated and engaged environment attracts and retains top performers, resulting in better performance, increased productivity and measurable bottom-line results.

But the Insigniam survey reveals that significant issues exist among many of those occupying the middle management ranks. Namely, issues related to declining opportunities to progress professionally, shifting priorities and a lack of autonomy and a disconnect with the people to whom they report. Some 61% report they would not be happy staying in their jobs for the next five years.

As summarized so well in Sales middle managers – what motivates them the most?

Companies cannot develop and sustain a superior sales force without putting great emphasis on the importance of the front-line sales manager role.  Unfortunately we have seen a fair number of companies that failed to do so. 

Our best suggestion is don’t fall into that trap – invest the time, effort, and money to recruit, develop, and retain the best possible cadre of front-line sales managers in your industry – the results will be such that you will never have to look back.

Bob Urichuck is an internationally sought after speaker, trainer—founder of the "Buyer Focused" Velocity Selling System—and best-selling author in six languages. His latest books, Velocity Selling: How to Attract, Engage and Empower Buyers to Buy, and How to Motivate Your Team in 30 Days are new in 2014.

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