4-ways-to-motivate-middle-performing-salespeople.jpgThink about the best coaches or the best managers you’ve ever encountered. What did they do that made them great? Often, they have the ability to motivate and push you to greater success. The skill behind those traits is the ability to meet people where they are.

There are many sales organizations out there that fall into that 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the revenue comes from 20 percent of the people. If you could improve that ratio, your sales results would improve exponentially. So how do you motivate those middle performing salespeople in a way that improves their productivity and emotionally connects them to being an A player?

Identify the Challenge.

Too often, sales leaders wrongly perceive middle performers as not being motivated. When in reality, the issue may be a lack of necessary experience, unfocused training or under-developed skills that are necessary to excel in the role. Salespeople are motivated when they feel like they can succeed in the role. Motivation is a combination of training, coaching, mentoring and enablement.

Here’s 4 Ways to Get More Out of Your Middle Performers

Enable them to Execute at the Buyer-level

Too often sales organizations fail to equip their salespeople to be successful at the buyer-level, meaning they can effectively articulate the value of what their selling and what makes it different than the competition in a way that has meaning to the buyer. The best way for organizations to help their salespeople execute is to build clarity around these essential questions:

  • What problems do you solve for your customers?
  • How do you specifically solve those problems?
  • How do you do it differently than your competition?
  • What’s your proof?

If you asked your executive team, marketing, your sales reps, your managers, these questions – how many different answers would you get? Think about what that type of environment does to your salespeople, especially for those who may be struggling because of a lack of training or development.

You are assuming that they’ll figure out the value and differentiation of the solution, instead of owning that clarity as an organization. It’s not solely up to you as a sales leader, it’s up to leaders across your company to build that consistency. It’s a fundamental component to repeatable revenue growth.

Teach Managers to Teach

Being a great sales manager is fundamentally different than being a great salesperson. It requires different skills and different behaviors. Managers need training and they need to be enabled to (1) meet people where they are and (2) effectively coach.

We use our Skill/Will model to help managers meet people where they are. We also cover it in this webinar. Rolling out a simple coaching model for your managers to use can help equip them with a tool they can use in any feedback situation. We use an easy model of Tell, Show, Observe, Provide Feedback.

  • Tell: you want to make sure your reps know what is expected of them – the activities and the behaviors you need them to demonstrate
  • Show: your managers need to show them what you want them to do. People learn from watching others. If you want them to utilize a particular behavior when selling for example, you need to show them. Have them sit on sales calls, have them watch your sales presentations, etc…
  • Observe: Watch what they do, provide practice opportunities like role plays. Give yourself the opportunity to watch them in action so you can provide the right type of feedback.
  • Feedback: Create an environment where reps have the opportunity to practice. In any feedback session, ask the reps to rate their own performance by offering two things they like and two things they would change. They’ll likely reveal any struggles themselves, allowing you to provide future action steps and maintain a positive-tone for the conversation.

Use Your Top Performers

Your top salespeople can be an asset to increasing productivity for your middle performers. People learn by watching. Providing opportunities for your B-level players to watch how your top players execute a sales process can be an effective way to improve their performance. It also extends your reach as a manager by delegating some of those coaching opportunities.


Mentoring has long been a staple of the development process, but too many organizations take a more hands-off, casual approach to the process. A full 56% of high-performing companies say that having a “high-touch coaching/mentoring” program is essential to the success of their employees. Peer-to-peer coaching programs as well as extended time with high-level management both seem to be particularly effective at growing and retaining future leaders.