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Motivating a Sales Team Without Budgets

Recently our organization took away set budgets for our sales reps with the mindset that the pressure can cause desperation and unethical sales practices. Most of our organization has seen a decrease in production since the change.

Can you TRULY gain the results you need without the ability to both manage and lead your team? Especially if you can no longer hold your sales reps accountable for poor performance.

What I've found in this new environment is that it's even more important to find what motivates your team internally. I have fortunately continued to see positive results, however I am looking for advice in order to sustain the results I am seeing.


I think you are right on regarding finding what motivates each individual. Quite a bit has been written from a research perspective regarding motivation theories & ideas. Some of that information may be useful to you. I emphasize the research part because plenty has been written from a pop culture standpoint on motivation as well but I have not found that nearly as useful.

Cut backs are an unfortunate response lately. Many find it difficult to deal with the change and just (as you mention) start to do unethical practices. I agree in finding ways to redirect them in a positive road. As a leader we need to assure to keep our team members on the best path possible.

That is a difficult situation to be in. It's challenging motivating a team without holding them accountable for budgets. My question would be what other area's of the job can you hold them accountable for? Generally speaking there are lot's of area's where we can still hold them accountable. Do you have specific processes in place that must be followed, ie scripts? I would focus on leading/ managing through accountability in the area's you can. Are they on time? Do they complete other job duties that might lead up to them completing budgets? The budget is the result of the work they are doing, if they are doing poor work you will get poor results. Try to focus on leading them though completing all the tasks that will get the result they are looking for. Example would be: If you sell cell phones, Rep doesn't make the sale. Don't question why they didn't make the sale, question the process that lead to the failed result. Did they follow all the necessary steps to make the sale, did they do it with enthusiasm? If they skip apart of the sales process, that's where you hold them accountable not at the end.

this is great advice. Remember the budget results are the lagging indicators, what are they telling you? Are there leading indicators of poor performance that you can address ahead of time to prevent this?

Dr. Ryan Meers

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