How can you engage your salespeople outside of the compensation lever?

Jusqu’à présent, les entreprises ont majoritairement privilégié le levier rémunération pour inciter leurs vendeurs à se dépasser.

Today, this lever is no longer sufficient to motivate salespeople: recruitment difficulties, high turnover... from now on, you need other arguments to ensure that your sales teams give their best and invest in the long term! The meaning given to their work, the possibility of taking initiatives and the opportunity to participate in a collective adventure are now part of the elements that count in the eyes of salespeople.


Motivation is not activated by pressing a button!

The question of salespeople's commitment calls for a humbling precondition:

"You can't motivate someone: you can just create the right conditions for a person to activate his or her own engines.


This may seem obvious, but it puts a damper on some of the prevailing rhetoric offering 'turnkey' solutions for generating engagement within sales teams (from mobile apps to team building activities to incentives of all kinds).


Let's be clear, while these solutions can have a real ripple effect and stimulate the involvement of a sales team in the short term, the notion of engagement appeals to the deeper drivers of individuals, and these drivers have evolved in recent years.


Meaning' and values increasingly important, especially among 'young people

Overall, there has been a shift in employees' priorities, including in the commercial sector: less focused on money as an end in itself or on attributes of power, employees are now placing more and more importance on the meaning of their work and the values conveyed by the company they work for, or plan to join.


This is particularly true of the younger generation entering the labour market today, as highlighted by the latest Universum study1 , which shows a growing attachment of students to CSR, ethics and equality criteria in their career choices:

"1 in 3 students think that ethics is an important issue (especially on the business side), and 26% of them attach importance to the ethical principles of companies. »


The success of the Student Manifesto for an Ecological Awakening, launched by students from leading business schools, including HEC, in which they say they are ready to boycott companies that do not commit to ecology, even if it means earning less, is also proof of this.


Money no longer makes you happy... or at least not committed!

Although this prevalence of values and ethics in career choices must be qualified (this same study shows that beyond the rhetoric, business school students still choose companies that offer high income prospects and constitute a good reference for their CVs), it is important to bear in mind that the financial criterion is no longer the only one that counts, and that the drivers of salespeople have become multiple.

Beyond ethics, several criteria have become essential in the career choices of salespeople, including: having an immediate impact in the company, experiencing collective "professional challenges", or being autonomous in their work.


So how do you integrate this change in sales aspirations into your management style?


The new levers of engagement for salespeople

Here are several areas you can work on to encourage the commitment of your sales teams and develop the attractiveness of your company:

  •      Work on the values of the company and its raison d'être: The feeling of being useful is a determining factor in the notion of commitment! And to contribute to this, there is nothing like defining your company's mission, giving meaning to its actions and showing its positive impact on society. This is what Simon Sinek calls the "Golden Circle", which corresponds to the "WHY?" in his clear diagram describing what makes one company much more attractive and commercially successful than another.
  •   Encourage autonomy and initiative: Encouraging initiative means allowing your salespeople to participate in decisions that concern them and to be involved in the organisation of their daily work (for example, by asking them to define the means to be used to achieve their objectives). This also means letting them experiment (a new pitch, a new e-mail sequence, the operation of a new CRM tool, etc.) within a defined framework (objectives, time, etc.) by trusting them and giving them the right to make mistakes.
  •   Develop "Co-operation" and the sharing of good practices: In a constantly evolving environment, the playing field is constantly changing, and the best of one moment is not necessarily the best of the next! Therefore, encouraging the sharing of good practices internally is a good way to value the best performers while ensuring that not everything rests on their shoulders. To do this, you can encourage the setting up of times during which a member of the sales team will train his colleagues on a tool, a technique or an approach that he applies with better results than the others. In this way, the team will benefit from both emulation and collaboration, and everyone will have the opportunity to develop their strengths.


A change of posture for managers

If these levers are based on values and give pride of place to collaborative logics, their activation is not necessarily idealistic and is not "free" for companies: not only is it a factor of commitment and stability for teams, but the implementation of these levers is favourable to agility and innovation, and therefore ultimately to the sustainability and performance of your company.


However, it implies a real change of attitude, which may be counter-intuitive for many managers: the management methods "inherited" from the last few decades were largely based on a "command and control" logic.

Today, it is a question of placing more value on "doing better" than on "doing good", even if this sometimes takes longer at the start.


By shifting the role of employees from the execution of upstream and often top-down systems to reflection and initiative-taking, the role of managers is changing significantly. Their task is now to build a secure and stimulating framework, to create trust and to foster competence development.


Much more in a "coach" position and in a support logic, they question and listen to their teams without necessarily wanting to know everything, in order to help them find the best solutions by themselves.


From now on, the competence of sales managers is no longer measured by the quality of their answers, but by the quality of their questions!


This approach is less obvious to activate than the financial lever alone, but it also gives meaning and value to the mission of the sales managers themselves!


Are you facing a crisis situation? Have you considered repositioning your sales action? To find out how, watch this webinar:


  1. Universum 2019 annual survey on "The main career trends of students in Business and Engineering Schools". A summary of the results can be consulted via this link: http: //
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