Six effective ways to motivate your sales team during the ‘dog days’

Welcome to the dog days of summer—that time when the temperature and humidity are still unbearable, families are trying to squeeze in the last days of summer vacation before going back to school and (it seems) most of your customers, and prospects, are out of the office.

As a manager, it can be hard to motivate your sales team when their customers hesitate to buy, or when they hear “no” hundreds of times. Here are some ideas—some of them common sense—to keep your team on task and hitting their numbers during these dog days, when they would much rather be hitting the beach or golf balls.

Analyze individual motivations. Each team member has his or her own unique drive that makes them a good salesperson. When figuring out how to motivate these people, you first need to determine if they are intrinsically or extrinsically motivated. Intrinsically motivated sellers are driven by an internal desire to succeed and are extremely competitive. They want to learn and grow by mastering their skills to reach personal goals. Extrinsically motivated sellers look for money, recognition or other, tangible, rewards. They often work to avoid negative consequences and stay out of trouble.

Provide access to additional knowledge or tools. Intrinsically motivated people thirst for more knowledge and, quite often, will jump at the chance for the opportunity to fine-tune their craft. Whether it’s additional training, conferences, webinars or speakers featuring subject-matter experts, these team members will want to participate in order to improve their skill set.  Ask them if they have everything they need to succeed—whether it’s sales-tracking systems, sales-training software, research tools or databases—then make the investment to help improve their selling abilities during the mid-summer slump.

Give credit where credit is due. When your sales team succeeds, be certain to recognize everyone who contributed. Sales support staff, who work hard, only to have the credit go the sellers quickly become frustrated or disillusioned. Acknowledge even the smallest contributions with praise to set a pattern of positive reinforcement, which can be the difference between an apathetic group and a highly motivated team.

Provide public recognition. Thanking employees, in front of their peers, inspires them to succeed and acknowledging them publicly provides a sense of accomplishment and pride. This can be as simple as a group email or an official ceremony with plaques or trophies. (Both intrinsic and extrinsic sales employees appreciate public recognition.) Scaling the recognition to the level of success encourages salespeople to work toward higher goals and provides additional motivation during slower summer months.

Reward even the rejections. Salespeople hear lots of “no”s on a daily basis and intrinsically motivated sellers need to be encouraged by their hard work, even if it doesn’t always pay off. Have them track the number of “no”s they receive in a week, or a month, then let them know you have noticed their efforts, even when they haven’t resulted in sales. If your group is more extrinsically motivated, award them with a gift card or other token of appreciation. 

Take a field trip. Celebrate the wins with a trip for the entire team—a little time out of the office. Take an afternoon off and go to lunch at a nice restaurant, a day at a recreation space or a bowling alley. Anything that allows the team to enjoy wins, as a group, provides additional motivation and fosters a stronger team bond to help power them through slower periods.

An effective company requires dedicated, motivated salespeople to achieve success, but salespeople won’t excel if not properly motivated. Pay attention to intrinsic and extrinsic motivations of your team and provide them with the tools, recognition, awards and team building, especially during the challenging dog days. 

Jim Marshall is owner, and president, of Sandler Training of Tampa Bay which provides sales, corporate and management training to high-achieving companies and individuals. Contact him at 813.287.1500 or

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