Why Commissions Aren’t Enough: How to Motivate Outside Sales Teams

Alejandro Morales
5 min readApr 8, 2021

More and more, outside sales teams form a large part of many companies’ sales forces. However, as they don’t typically work in the office and may have independent schedules, they tend to be overlooked. This can create a sense of disconnection from the organization as a whole. Employee demotivation can hamper their chances to learn and grow professionally, affecting the company’s performance.

Companies are finding that simply offering competitive commissions is no longer enough to keep agents performing at their highest levels. Encouraging agents’ connectedness with organizational goals is key to maintain high employee engagement in the long run.

Fortunately, advances in technology have made it easier to create a greater sense of community by offering modern dynamic methods. Even so, boosting motivation requieres a lot of time, thought and effort. Worry not! We’ll give you some useful tips that will help your field agents become more motivated and engaged than ever.

Build in Accessible Incentives

Outsides sales teams traditionally receive commissions as part of their incentives structure, but including additional and goal-oriented incentives can help greatly boost motivation.

According to a Selling Rewards study, it’s important that companies get reliable information on their agents’ behavior to ensure they’re acting aligned with their organizational goals. In outside sales teams, the lack of this data is compensated by a results-based contract that pays commissions in strict relation to sales volume. On the downside, when a prospect doesn’t become an actual sale, it generates high levels of uncertainty among sales reps.

The study presents two types of performance measurement systems: While outcome systems control the results of the selling process, behavior systems focus on the individual stages of the process. The first one implies little tracking of activities and effort, and is associated with high levels of commissions. Behavior systems on the other hand, imply a more detailed evaluation of performance. This way, sales managers can clearly identify what areas each rep best fits in, helping them pursue long-term goals.

This is why offering new rewards for accomplishments such as closing deals quickly and generating new leads or referrals, is a great way to promote key activities beyond just sales. Similarly, rewarding personal and professional progress shows that the organization is invested in its agents’ success. Small appreciations such as highlighting the skills in which reps stand out is vital for boosting morale and increasing confidence.

Promote Team Building and Communication

A major part of the disconnection agents feel from the rest of the team stems from not knowing what everyone else is up to, how they work and what they could improve. Having a tool in place to help the team learn from their peers’ achievements is essential for improving sales performance. Not only does it foster transparency (and therefore, trust) in the company, but it also generates camaraderie and a sense of recognition among agents.

Communication plays a big role in this, since it ensures team cohesion and inclusion. By holding regular meetings where teams can analyze and discuss metrics, review the cycle and current challenges, companies can strengthen bonds among their agents.

On an individual level, research reveals that employee motivation can increase 3x if they receive feedback from their managers at least a few times per month. Holding one-on-one meetings between managers and sales reps destined to review their progress is great way to recognize agents’ achievements and provide them support with any roadblock they might be facing.

Encourage Healthy Competition

Promoting healthy competition can bring out the best of sales reps as they will push past their limits to keep up with their peers. Seeing your colleagues hit their sales target might work as a motivator for stretching one’s limits. However, the nature of outside sales forces might make it difficult for employees to see their team members’ progress.

Setting up competition instances and rewarding top performers can serve as a way of engaging agents with a shared goal, while making them feel valuable. Not only will your outside sales teams feel connected, but also they also will try to boost their performance.

On this subject, gamification software is an effective way of engaging teams with their work, progress and goals, while encouraging healthy competition and growth.

A study titled “Gamification: Motivation and Engagement”, shows a strong connection between gamification and psychological theory behaviorism. It shows that rewarding people through game mechanics such as the acquisition of points and badges, promotes certain desirable behaviors. Additionally, gamification mechanics add collaboration and competition into the mix, resulting in a sense of belonging. Incorporate game mechanics into your sales process and promote friendly competition among your agents.

Track Team Analytics

Another daunting task for sales teams, but one that can be easily achieved through technology, is team analytics tracking. Knowing the areas each agent excels in, is necessary for any salesperson’s personal and professional growth.

Before, this was considered a tedious task since data was highly scattered making it hard to analyze. However, this process was greatly simplified through many software tools that provide precise data to analyze and act on.

Tracking and sharing team KPIs is a powerful way to engage agents with their performance metrics and help them benchmark their progress. Make sure you share a mix of overall metrics and individual and group KPIs. This will give you a closer insight of your team goals’ progress.

Outside sales teams can get solid results when given the right encouragement. Nowadays, commissions are but a small portion of this equation. Individual development is key to ensure engagement and this can only be achieved by shifting traditional paradigms.

Because of this, we believe that Hurrah! Leaderboards could be a great solution for helping your sales forces become more engaged and motivated than ever, while improving your success tracking. Hurrah! is a fun performance tracking solution that connects to a wide variety of CRM and databases. It allows you to share fully customized KPIs and real-time feedback to your team members no matter where they are.

Begin the transformation today and opt for modern, more dynamic solution such as Hurrah! and turn your field agents into motivated, productive and happy employees!

To learn more about the employee engagement solution for outside sales teams, sign up for a risk-free Demo.

Originally published on CRMGamified blog by CRMGamified

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Alejandro Morales

CEO at CRM Gamified, where we aim to help companies recognize, reward and motivate their people by using gamification techniques. https://crmgamified.com/