Every sales manager and leader focuses on how to motivate and engage their sales teams. Motivation is key to success, especially in sales – but it doesn’t always operate in the way we expect.

The two most common forms of motivation are pleasure-seeking and pain avoidance. Most people are wired primarily for one or the other – either to seek out things they like or to avoid things they don’t.

In other words, your staff already have a built-in motivation system. All you have to do is engage it.

  1. Understand how both types of motivation drive behavior.

Let’s say you have two sales professionals. Person A is ambitious and driven, and recently surprised you by asking for greater accountability in their work. Person B is a planner: they approach work by identifying potential problems, preparing for them and then executing their plan.

From these two descriptions, it’s possible to determine that Person A is primarily motivated by pleasure seeking and Person B by pain avoidance.

By watching their day to day work, you can determine what drives each of your team members. You can use that information to improve your support of their work.

  1. Rethink your approach to each type of motivation.

Sales leaders tend to think that pleasure-seeking types are easiest to motivate. After all, they’re usually the first to jump in to a new project. They’re easily inspired and love to say “yes” to new ideas.

It’s true that pain-avoiding types are more hesitant to start new projects and more skeptical. Behind these traits, however, is a desire to plan and question now so that the team can win in the future. By responding to their questions and need for planning, sales managers can provide the foundation these types need to launch their best work.

  1. Encourage questions from everyone on the team.

Encouraging your team to ask questions has two benefits. First, it encourages the pleasure-seekers to think critically for a moment, to engage with the potential problems instead of assuming everything will be great. Second, it encourages the pain-avoiders to contribute their valuable perspective to the situation. This group understands that you take them seriously because you treat their work seriously.

At SMR Group, our recruiters connect pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device companies to some of the best sales and marketing talent available today. To learn more, contact us.

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