How Much Do You Know About Team Motivation Traits?


As you prepare for the new year, are you dealing with the same old problem? I’m talking about how the top 20% of your sales team brings in over half of your revenue. With the labor market in turmoil, sales managers everywhere worry whether their top talent will leave. To protect the revenue stream, aggressive sales managers often study the processes used by their A‑level reps and then try to train and coach their other reps to use the same tactics. Your sales managers can get the “process” wrong on a number of levels. If they rely only on personality tests to understand their team members, they don’t get a clear picture of what’s behind specific behaviors. Sales managers should study the results of comprehensive psychometric assessments to fully understand motivation traits. This information is also key when you decide which reps to put on new accounts.

Team Motivation Traits, Hiring and Promoting

Unless they’ve been trained as professional behavioral analysts in how to analyze an employee’s actions, your managers will miss a few details when it comes to motivation traits. Consider the following scenario. After a blowout year during which your top seller has shared the details of their compensation package with coworkers, one of your solid account managers asks you for a different role. They envision themselves bringing home the kind of money your rainmaker brags about. You may decide that your account manager has passion and interest, and you figure they can learn to become an A‑level sales rep.

Project yourself one year into the future and realize your account manager has yet to close a single deal. You may have invested significant resources into training and coaching this person, but they don’t seem to be catching on. What has gone wrong? You may have failed to take key aspects of the account manager’s work behavior and motivation into account.

Drive Traits

Your next concern should be whether you can improve their performance and how. If their assessment scores on the core work trait associated with drive is low, you may have trouble convincing the rep to work harder to achieve their goals. Our research shows that one of the top struggles for today’s sales managers when they talk with their reps is time commitment. Your top seller likely earns their hefty pay package because they are willing to work all day and part of the night to close a deal. If your aspiring sales star doesn’t possess sufficient drive, they’ll have trouble getting where they want to be.

Motivation Traits

Another critical issue may be motivation. Your account manager may tell you they are financially motivated. Their assessment results may reveal something else. If their motivational driver for creativity is higher than their desire to win or make money, they may end up turning off prospects, especially if they have an unusual way of presenting information or engaging with customers.

Before you promote reps in your department, ask them to take a sales acumen and psychometric assessment. The sales acumen assessment will reveal whether your current account manager has the natural ability to negotiate and close deals. Without this skill, they may struggle to be as successful as your top seller. A low score in this trait doesn’t mean your rep will fail. Coachability is another critical data point in the assessment, and if your rep is enthusiastic about being coached, they can learn critical sales skills.

Selling to a New Type of Customer

In plotting your department’s success in the next year and beyond, have you determined which core skills will be most important? If your organization is rolling out a new product line and you’ll be targeting a new type of customer, you may not want or need a clone of your top seller. Consider the plight of hotels and motels, hit hard by the pandemic. Sales managers in this industry had to pivot quickly and determine whether they were targeting the right prospects once the economy began to reopen. Industry experts advised operators to “carefully evaluate each member of the team to make sure they can hunt.”

In the go-​go years leading up to the pandemic, many lodging sales professionals had fallen into the pattern of responding to RFPs and weren’t accustomed to reaching out to look for new business. If your top seller is an RFP expert, you’ll need to round out your team by hiring a sales pro who can prospect the right kind of buyer. Watch the assessment results of your candidates to find your next hunter. But make sure they also know how to sell to the buyer you want to target.

When you understand team motivation traits, you'll be able to successfully manage your sales department.

Photo by Prateek Katyal from Pexels