The Coaching Effect Blog

The Coaching Effect Blog

    4 things that motivate sales reps

    by Kristi Shoemaker / August 25, 2010

    Posted by: Kristi Shoemaker, EcSELL Institute

    Our research director, Jaime Davis-Thomas, recently came across some interesting information on what motivates a sales person.

    An article published by Harvard Business Review, titled "Employee Motivation: A Powerful New Model", suggests that people are motivated by 4 basic emotional desires.

    1. To acquire

    2. To bond

    3. To comprehend

    4. To defend

    Most sales compensation plans are fairly effective at addressing the desire to acquire and the desire to defend.  For example, sales compensation plans recognize and reward a sales rep for getting new business and often this reward includes bonuses and and other perks. Perks can be trips, prizes or it can be recognition and status. 

    With regard to the desire to defend, most sales people want to protect their reputation and standing within the organization. Most sales compensation plans leverage the competitive nature of sales people by constantly comparing the results of others on the sales team.

    But, what about the desire to bond and the desire to comprehend? According to this Harvard Business Review article, we all want to understand the world around us. We want it to make sense, and as important, we want to make a meaningful contribution. Sales people have an inherent desire to help customers.  Ask yourself, does your compensation plan do anything to reward the desire to bond? Are you, as a Sales Manager, coaching your sales reps to move their client relationships from a transactional one to a valued partner? (BTW we have a webinar in November on the subject of how your sales reps can systematically move and deepen their client relationships so they become a trusted partner rather than an order taker. It also includes best practices on coaching techniques to help them make this change. Coming in November 2010. Email me if you are interested in learning more!

    Then ask, who is helping sales reps with their desire to comprehend. It is human nature to want to learn and continue to grow. In this instance the Sales Manager's role is very important.

    The Sales Manager is actually part of the "compensation" to a sales producer.  The expertise, coaching, and professional development a Sales Manager can provide may be just as important as monetary compensation.  At EcSELL Institute ( we have found that leading and coaching sales reps should be one of a Sales Managers greatest concerns.

    Is your compensation plan structured to meet the desires of your team?  Do you have the carrot in the right place to incent the right behaviors? Are you aware of the newest trends in compensation plans?  If not, you should attend EcSELL Institute's 6 PIllar Workshop where will will address these questions and present cutting edge best practices around each. Learn more at:


    Tags: Compensation Plans

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    Kristi Shoemaker

    Kristi Shoemaker

    Kristi is a marketing communications and public relations expert with over 30+ years of experience in a variety of industries. She was an integral part of EcSell's go-to-market strategy and execution from 2008 - 2012. Kristi enjoys taking a holistic approach by integrating all the key marketing disciplines to create synergies that generate maximum results. She is currently the president of KLS Consulting in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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