Motivating your sales and marketing team

Motivating your sales and marketing team{{}}Effective motivation can significantly boost the performance of your marketing team. Sales people in particular often respond well to a combination of financial incentives and management support, driving increased sales and profitability

Financial incentives

Financial incentives such as sales commission can have a powerful influence on behaviour. To be successful, incentives should be based on what you want people to achieve. For example, commissions might be based on the profitability of sales rather than simply revenue, and only payable when customers pay rather than when orders are placed. Higher incentives can be offered for winning new business rather than simply taking repeat orders.

Some aspects of wider marketing roles lend themselves to similar incentives. For example, you might offer a bonus for a marketing campaign that generates an above average response rate or a higher than expected number of new leads. Success in less immediately measurable marketing activities, such as branding, might be encouraged with a bonus related to the overall performance of the business.

Competitive remuneration packages help you attract and retain quality employees. Offering relatively low basic pay and high incentive payments can reduce the strain on cashflow but may risk encouraging an over aggressive approach to sales. It may be worth considering longer term incentives, such as share options, to compete for high calibre marketing managers.

Setting sales targets and other key performance indicators is an essential part of using financial incentives. Targets should be a realistic assessment of what is achievable, taking into account market conditions. Employees are more likely to buy in to targets that are agreed rather than imposed.

Motivation and support

Marketing employees at all levels can benefit from coaching support, particularly when they are relatively new to the role. Make yourself available as a resource - for example, if a salesperson wants you to attend a crucial meeting to help close a big deal.

Employees respond to praise; criticising staff for problems that are outside their control is counterproductive. It’s important, too, that employees feel they are being treated fairly: for example, by ensuring that the most profitable sales accounts are shared out equitably.

Regular meetings and open communication are important. Short term campaigns and incentives can help reinvigorate a stale team. Teambuilding events can help boost morale provided they are not seen by staff as an unwelcome imposition.


Poorly planned targets and incentives can drive damaging behaviour. For example, telesales staff with a target for the number of sales calls made may hit the target - but without calling the right people or making any sales. Salespeople may overpromise to win sales while after-sale customer service is neglected.

Clear policies are needed to ensure the whole marketing department works as a team: for example, to prevent salespeople ‘poaching’ their colleagues’ clients. Recognition needs to be given to the contribution other members of the marketing team may make to winning each sale and overall business performance. Shared incentives based on overall team performance can be an option.