19 sales motivation techniques that'll (actually) motivate your sales team

by Ryan Robinson
sales-motivation-techniques best ways to motivate sales team

We all have our off days. That’s a given. But a string of days with low motivation can do more than just put us in a slump, it can seriously impact results. That's why today, we're covering our proven sales motivation techniques that'll motivate your sales team.

When you start to feel yourself sliding down that path of losing momentum, it’s a good idea to look at people who’ve been there, made it to the other side and see how they did it.

These sales motivation quotes and techniques aren’t a replacement for hard work, but rather snackable pieces of actionable inspiration to set you back on track when it's time to motivate your sales team.

And because we believe progress is measured in action, we paired each of these sales motivation tidbits with a specific action item you can take today—to boost your productivity, give you a virtual high-five when you’re feeling low, and seriously motivate your sales team when they're in a slump.

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1. "Don’t try to be a man of success, try to be a man of value." - Albert Einstein

sales-motivation-techniques-albert einstein how to motivate your sales team

What this quote means (in a sales motivation context):

There’s a reason people react so negatively when they feel a salesperson is being too ‘sales-y’. A successful sales process doesn’t waste time talking about you, but rather what your offering can do for your potential client. How do you add value to their lives? How is working with you going to transform them? There’s more to what we do as salespeople than just the numbers.

Action you can take today (to motivate your sales team):

Instead of obsessing over stats, become a great storyteller. Show your prospects the story of their lives before, during, and after they become your client and the transformative value that you’re adding. Nail down this value story before jumping on your next call and become a ‘person of value’. Rehearse and workshop how this story can play out in different scenarios to motivate your sales team and get them excited with the prospect of helping customers build a better future.

2. "You can't turn a no to a yes without a maybe in between." - Francis Underwood

sales-motivation-techniques-francis underwood motivate sales team

What this quote means (in a sales motivation context):

The path to a sale is never as simple as A to B. There’s a whole alphabet between your first conversation and closing the sale. Don’t get discouraged when you hit a wall asking for the close. Think about how that ‘maybe’ is really just a ‘yes’ in disguise, and use that challenge to fuel your sales motivation all over again.

Action you can take today (to motivate your sales team):

Create a list of common concerns that cause your prospects to answer with a ‘maybe’ and clearly explain why those concerns are unfounded. Educate and motivate your sales team to approach these objections with a renewed sense of purpose. Knowing these road blocks and being able to explain the solutions to them simply, clearly, and confidently will help you keep the conversation moving on the path to a yes. ‘Maybe’ is where great salespeople live. They know that anything other than a flat out ‘no’ is a step towards a yes.

3. "You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle

sales-motivation-techniques-aristotle motivate your sales team

What this quote means (in a sales motivation context):

How you choose to live your days is how you choose to live your life. Are you willing to put in the time every day to reach the level of success you truly want? Are you willing to miss that dinner or not go out for drinks because you’re working towards something bigger? These are the choices that define who you are and how successful you’ll be as a salesperson. If this quote isn't a powerful sales motivation tool, I don't know what is.

Action you can take today (to motivate your sales team):

Focus on habits, not goals. Frame your day around incentivizing and rewarding yourself for repeating a habit, like making your 40 calls for the day, instead of putting a daily dollar amount on a magic pedestal. Create a repeatable process for yourself, which you know will get you where you want and that you can do every single day without fail. This way, you’re focusing on actions you control rather than putting all the pressure on results that might not come—that's how to motivate your sales team in a way that keeps them excited to show back up for work the next day.

4. "You just can't beat the person who never gives up." - Babe Ruth

sales-motivation-techniques-babe ruth motivate sales team

What this quote means (in a sales motivation context)

Simply put, success most often comes to those who refuse to quit. A little less simply put, behavioral economists studying human motivation discovered something called Time Inconsistency—which is the brain’s tendency to value immediate rewards more highly than future rewards. Unfortunately, selling is less about winning every little skirmish and more about winning the war. This means pushing through down days, boosting your sales motivation and forcing yourself to do the work even when you aren’t ‘feeling it’, and most of all—never, ever giving up.

Action you can take today (to motivate your sales team):

Take a step back and look at the bigger picture of your sales strategy. It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day of sales and lose sight of where you want yourself to be in a month, a year, hell, even five years. Commit to the long-term vision of what you want to achieve and never give up. Use that vision of future you to inspire you along the way when life gets you down. Pass this process on to help motivate your sales team and keep them focused on just how great of a reward it'll be once they're standing at the top of the mountain.

5. "Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action." - Walter Anderson

sales-motivation-techniques-walter anderson how to motivate sales team

What this quote means (in a sales motivation context):

We’re all procrastinators at some point. But ironically, the guilt and frustration we feel from not starting is often worse than the pain of actually doing the work. The anxiety we feel when faced with a huge list of prospects or massive sales goals can seem insurmountable, but something amazing happens once we actually start working: The fear goes away and the to-do list all of a sudden seems more doable. Use this sales motivation quote as a constant reminder to bias yourself and your team toward taking action.

Action you can take today (to motivate your sales team):

List the one thing you can do right now, no matter how small, that will help you move forward. When you're all in a slump, do this activity in a group to motivate your sales team and pinpoint a specific action you can all take to start feeling the momentum again. Is the action as simple as making that first call? Or replying to an email? Try to get even more specific. Instead of saying, “I’ll call 5 prospects on Wednesday,” say, “I’ll call 5 prospects on Wednesday between 10–11am.” Break down bigger tasks into small items you can easily get started on and watch your sales motivation skyrocket.  

6. "Success is never owned; it is only rented—and the rent is due every day." - Rory Vaden

sales-motivation-techniques-rory vaden motivate sales team

What this quote means (in a sales motivation context):

In sales (and in life) there’s never a good time to rest on your past achievements. The success you have today came from what you did yesterday. And if you sit back and stop doing what got you here, it’ll go away just as quickly as it came. Your quota refills at the beginning of each month, right? Choose to use this reminder as sales motivation to come out the gates strong every single day. You owe it to yourself and your business to put in the work and keep paying your dues.

Action you can take today (to motivate your sales team):

What’s the rent that you paid in the past that allows you to live in the success of your present? Was it dedication? Was it taking risks? Was it constant education and personal growth? Whatever it was, start your day by making a big payment in that same form of rent that's worked so well. Recognize the skills and qualities that got you where you are today and repeat them daily. Write them down and make sure you set aside time for them every single day. Run through this activity with each new member during your sales training & do refresher sessions during retreats to motivate your sales team time and time again around this crucial truth.

7. "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." - Bruce Lee

sales-motivation-techniques-bruce lee how to motivate sales team

What this quote means (in a sales motivation context):

What’s more important: To be a jack of all trades or a master of one? There will always be some new tool, task, or other distraction that wants to take your attention away today (and tomorrow). But every second spent on an unimportant task is a second taken away from working towards mastery. Focus is our greatest asset on the path to success.

Action you can take today (to motivate your sales team):

What’s your ‘one kick’? What skill or technique, if mastered, would bring you and your team the biggest level of success? Take a moment and think about what you put your energy into every day and whether or not you’re working on the right skills. In the past, I’ve gone so far as to set a reminder every few hours to ask me if I’m working on the right thing at this moment, or if I’ve been distracted again. Make yourself a force to be reckoned with and motivate your sales team with rewards for implementing this same high level of self-awareness.

8. "Pressure is a privilege." - Billie Jean King

sales-motivation-techniques-billie jean king motivate your sales team

What this quote means (in a sales motivation context):

Feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders? Guess what, that’s a good thing. Being pressured means you’re in a position where the actions you take truly matter. You’ve set goals that are challenging. You’re motivated to be better than who you are today. Remember that pressure is just a byproduct of your own success—and you can channel that into a constant source of sales motivation to get back up and do the work all over again each day.

Action you can take today (to motivate your sales team):

Create a ‘small wins scrapbook’—a collection of recent successes that you can look back on to remind yourself just how far you’ve come and why you’re feeling pressured to do more today. It’s all too easy to just move on after hitting another goal or making a sale without taking the time to appreciate the work you’ve done. Take that time to celebrate the small wins, motivate your sales team by highlighting those wins and value what everyone on your team does on a daily basis.

9. "Change before you have to." - Jack Welch

sales-motivation-techniques-jack welch motivate sales team

What this quote means (in a sales motivation context):

If you keep doing what you’ve always done, the best you’ll get is what you already have. Unfortunately, the human brain is hardwired to take the path of least resistance, which more often than not means sticking to business as usual, even when you know that changing now will help you in the future. Use this universal truth that the only thing guaranteed in business is change, as sales motivation to constantly innovate and improve your processes.

Action you can take today (to motivate your sales team):

Write down the one thing in your heart you know you need to change to make your life and career better in the future. This might be something you’ve known for a long time but haven’t felt the need to act on because there’s not enough pressure in your environment to make you feel like you have to. Now, tell yourself this one thing is going to destroy your career. Every day, look at that one thing and ask yourself ‘Do I really want to wait until I have to do this? Or do I want to be the person I want to be on my own terms?’ Motivate your sales team with looking critically at yourselves and doing this activity as well.

10. "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." - Albert Einstein

sales-motivation-techniques-albert einstein quote motivate your sales team

What this quote means (in a sales motivation context):

It takes a deep understanding to be able to create something simple. Think of Steve Jobs, who famously made Apple engineers make every function on the original iPod accessible in 3 clicks, just because he knew that simplicity was the key to massive sales. I think it worked out pretty well for him. And the positive end result you can expect from achieving a deep understanding of how to sell your product will serve as sales motivation enough to keep pushing forward.

Action you can take today (to motivate your sales team):

Test your pitch’s ‘simple factor’ by taking it outside your bubble. Call up your parents, partner or even a friend in a totally different profession and try it out on them. Do they know what you’re talking about? Can you answer questions that come up that you might think are ‘obvious’? Can you make it as simple as possible? Encourage your direct reports to run this experiment and use the results as a teaching opportunity that can motivate your sales team toward seeking further expertise.

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11. "Everything we want is on the other side of fear." - George Addair

sales-motivation-techniques-george addair motivate your sales team today

What this quote means (in a sales motivation context):

Fear is a sign that you’re on the right path. Trying new things, taking risks, and going after the unknown are all scary experiences that should serve as strong ways to increase sales motivation on a daily basis. That's because they’re also exactly what we need to do when we want to grow. We can’t let something as harmless as a little fear stand between us and what we want.

Action you can take today (to motivate your sales team):

Write down the biggest fears that you face every single day and imagine each one going to its extreme conclusion. Are you afraid of a large prospect turning you down? Take it one step further and imagine them yelling at you. Or calling your boss to complain. Or egging your house in the middle of the night. Imagining an extreme outcome to our fears lets us realize just how inconsequential they really are and helps us power through them. When someone on your team is lagging behind  the rest of the pack, use this activity to walk them through why their fears (or insecurities) need not hold them back from achieving great results. That should also motivate your sales team to help each other grow professionally.

12. "There is no such thing as failure. There are only results." - Tony Robbins

sales-motivation-techniques-tony robbins how to motivate your sales team

What this quote means (in a sales motivation context):

No matter what you do, the fact that you did something is more important than the outcome. Every action helps us move forward, whether it shows us the right way to act, or even just clarifies what we shouldn’t be doing. The only real failure is in not acting, because we've neither achieved a result nor have we grown in any way. While this principle can be applied in all areas of life, it's a particularly useful bit of sales motivation when you're running up against many failures in a row.

Action you can take today (to motivate your sales team):

Change your perspective around what you see as ‘failure’ by realizing that each one has helped you in some way. Start by listing out your past five ‘failures’. Now write down what you learned from each one. Did a prospect turn you down because you messed up your pitch? Maybe you learned that you need to do more prep before a call or rewrite a section of your script. It might be painful to revisit those experiences at first, but as you become more comfortable spending time in your own ‘failures’ you’ll start to realize that they are just stepping stones on the path to personal success. Use this activity to motivate your sales team into focusing back on the importance of activity goals versus only looking at financial targets.

13. "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

sales-motivation-techniques-ralph waldo emerson how to motivate sales team

What this quote means (in a sales motivation context):

Salespeople face more negativity than almost any other profession (just be thankful you’re not a politician!) and it’s all too easy to let that negativity make us think that we should just conform to what other people are doing or telling you. But the problem is that by emulating others, the best we can ever be is Number Two. To be truly great, you need to be yourself and lean into leveraging your own unique strengths to sell better.

Action you can take today (to motivate your sales team):

Don’t focus on the negatives. Make a list of the moments when your unique selling style worked or times when you went with your gut and came out with the win. This activity will significantly help motivate younger members of your sales team to have more confidence in their approach. Remember too, that there are so many factors in the selling process that are out of your control and that a ‘no’ doesn’t necessarily mean you did anything wrong. Stick with the positives and aim for that top spot.

14. "It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not weakness. That is life." - Jean Luc Picard

sales-motivation-techniques-jean luc picard motivate sales team

What this quote means (in a sales motivation context):

No matter how hard you prepare, how well you pitch, or how much work you put in, sometimes it’s just not your day. That’s it. Life can be chaotic and trying to rationalize every little event will drive you crazy. Beyond just being a useful piece of sales motivation, this dose of reality will help recover from objections, mistakes and failures in all aspects of your job & personal life.

Action you can take today (to motivate your sales team):

Separate yourself from your losses. The next time you get a no, instead of analyzing what you did to lose the sale, look at it from a few different angles. Was there something going on in your prospect’s business that made them not want to buy? Or are there changes happening in the market? The key is to look at the bigger picture to identify other causes that contributed to the deal not being closed—and you can use this review process as a way to motivate your sales team into taking this process into their own hands too. As personal development guru Zig Ziglar puts it: “Failure is an event, not a person.”

15. "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." - Abraham Lincoln

sales-motivation-techniques-abraham lincoln motivate your sales team

What this quote means (in a sales motivation context):

Productivity is about more than just your amount of time spent working. It’s not about just doing, but doing the right things in the best ways possible. Why do more work when you can get the same results in less time? Keeping this quote as a post-it note next to my monitor has served as a very helpful sales motivation reminder to slow down and make sure I'm fully prepared before hopping onto a pitch call with a prospect.

Action you can take today (to motivate your sales team):

Spend the time now to save yourself exponentially more time in the future. Does that mean hiring someone else to find your leads or implementing a new CMS that will let you work better and faster with every future client? What about investing a few hours now, into creating a beautiful pitch deck that can better sell to prospects for the months to come? Before you dive into just doing your next task, think of how you can first sharpen your own axe. Motivate your sales team to think critically about this and you'll identify many more opportunities for becoming a more efficient sales organization.

16. "Everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth." - Mike Tyson

sales-motivation-techniques-mike tyson motivate your sales team

What this quote means (in a sales motivation context):

Don’t get in the ring with Mike Tyson! Seriously though, on the flip side of our previous sales motivation technique, Tyson’s fists are the perfect metaphor for a problem so many of us fall into: over preparation. We believe that just because we have plans or we’ve prepped in advance that things can’t go wrong. But the thing about a ‘plan’ is that it’s really just another name for a best guess.

Action you can take today (to motivate your sales team):

Plan for the unexpected by setting up systems so that no matter what comes your way, you’ve got something to fall back on. What’s a system? Simply put, it’s the backbone of your sales plan that can guide you back onto the right path when things fall apart. The act of simply having a system like this in place will motivate your sales team to experiment more. Client angry with you? Have a system in place for discounts that you can offer on the spot. Call with a prospect go worse than expected? Have a system of follow ups in place to smooth things over and push them back towards the close.

17. "Losers focus on winners and winners focus on winning."

sales-motivation-techniques-losers focus on winners motivate sales team

What this quote means (in a sales motivation context):

Haters gonna hate, but those who achieve real success only focus on themselves and pushing their own limits. Chasing someone else or obsessing over what they did can blind you from focusing on the most important person of all: yourself. Use this sales motivation technique to keep your eye on the prize that matters most.

Action you can take today (to motivate your sales team):

Stop the hate. When you start comparing yourself to others, take the emotional context out of the equation, put your ego aside, and turn those feelings of inadequacy or jealousy into a positive learning experience. Encourage and motivate your sales team to focus on improving their own metrics, rather than obsessing over how to beat the person sitting across from them. Moreover, what can you learn from that person that can help increase your own productivity or make yourself more successful? The best revenge is to be a better version of yourself.

18. "If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward." - Martin Luther King Jr.

sales-motivation-techniques-martin luther king jr motivate your sales team

What this quote means (in a sales motivation context):

The smallest step will get you that much closer to your final destination. This sales motivation technique is particularly useful in the midst of multiple rejections. Remember that we create our own path to success one step at a time, and even if you don’t know exactly where you’re going, moving in just about any direction (except backwards!) is all it takes to get closer to achieving our goals.

Action you can take today (to motivate your sales team):

Find your momentum tipping point. There’s a mental process called the Zeigarnik Effect, which kicks in when you are close to finishing a task, propelling you towards the finish line like you’re running from a hoard of zombies. What is it that pushes you or your team towards the finish line? Hemingway would always stop writing mid-sentence so that when he returned to work the next day he knew where to start, effectively forcing himself into ‘must finish’ mode. How can you use this tactic to motivate your sales team into starting each day with a full battery, charged up and ready to accelerate into the day's tasks?

19. "When people give me all these great compliments, I thank them, but still go back to my room and practice." - B.B. King

sales-motivation-techniques-bb king motivate sales team

What this quote means (in a sales motivation context):

Extrinsic motivation like praise and monetary success should always be secondary to intrinsic motivation. What is it about what you’re doing that truly drives you to keep at it every single day? When the praise fades or the sales dry up, what is it that will keep you going? Tap into that underlying factor to really find your true well of sales motivation that'll keep you going for the long-haul.

Action you can take today (to motivate your sales team):

Find your core motivator. Write a list of the things that motivate you to keep at it every single day. Is it the money? Pride? Personal growth? Praise from your team or boss? Be honest. Now categorize them by extrinsic and intrinsic and rank how important each one is to you. This activity should give you (and your sales team) a great tool to return to any time you feel your sales motivation waning and need a reminder of why you’re putting in the hustle.

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Sales motivation is a well that unfortunately runs dry sometimes. But with a few simple exercises and some changes in perspective, we can fill that back up.

Use these sales motivation techniques and action items as a guide to put you back on the path to success, motivate your sales team and start seeing real results again.

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