This is one of the most requested topics by sales managers world-wide. The truth is that there are literally thousands of was to motivate sales teams but it only takes a few to make your team more happy and productive.
1. Learn a little about each person on your team. Do they like movies, music, plays or skiing? Look for opportunities to reward them with something that represents their interest. You will be saying that you appreciate what they did and that you are thinking of them as an individual, not just a number.
2. Thank their spouse. One of my CEO's send a card to my wife with an note that said, "Thank you for doing without Steve during the past few weeks. The work he was doing was important to us and I appreciate your sacrifice and understanding." It worked!
3. Reward progress. Too often we wait to reward the final sale or reaching the quote and people get burned out on the way. Reward small actions that lead the way and you'll keep them fired up for the long haul.
4. Tell everyone. While some people like their rewards in private, others are motivated by the knowledge that others know what they did. Find opportunities to thank them publicly. Company newsletters and local press releases work very well for this.
5. Get in the game. When the boss gets in the game, it makes it more fun for all. Promise to do something crazy or distasteful if they win the contest. The more public the better. This is a good time to call the press!
6. Pit teams against each other. Personal rivalries only go so far, but team rivalries have special value. Every member of the team will work to help the others do their part. In the end, you will create a self-motivating team.
7. Don't make the reward too big. Some companies feel that the bigger the prize the better, but I have seen this backfire when sales people realize that they can't reach the goal and it means 50% of their annual pay is on the line.
8. Sooner is better than later. Contests that pay out at the end of the year can create year-end blitzes or slackers depending on where they are in the fourth quarter. Try a quarterly contest to keep their eye on the ball all year long.
9. Ask them! For a change of pace, let your sales people develop a contest. You'll be amazed at how hard they work at their own game.
10. Watch yourself, they do. Keeping people motivated is often as simple as staying motivated yourself. If you are down or negative about the market or company, they will follow your lead. The opposite is also true. Smile and the world smiles with you!