Is money the best way to motivate

Rewarding sales teams with money is a tactic that employers have used for decades. However, in recent years, economists, psychologists and sociologist alike claim that money may not motivate all people.

Perhaps Notorious B.I.G. was on to something when he coined the line, “Mo Money Mo Problems”.

Cash incentives, whether through bonus systems, pay increases or commissions have long been used to motivate sales teams to close more deals. While the ideology that reward enhances performance holds true today, it’s not always effective for all employees.

Let me explain.

Daniel Pink, author of To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, first illustrated the concept that not all employees are motivated by cash incentives two years ago in this Ted Talk:

According to Pink, cash incentives work well for employees who perform small straightforward tasks. Conversely, when the work is more complex and requires conceptual creative thinking, cash doesn’t rule everything. In fact, it’s financial incentives that can have a reverse impact and take away from performance.

Money is a motivator; there’s no denying that. And if we don’t pay our employees enough they won’t perform as expected or be likely to stick around. But it’s not all about the might dollar; here are a few ways to motivate your team that aren’t based on cash incentives:

1. Empower Employees

A great motivator is empowerment. Employees that are empowered to make decisions, solve problems and pitch innovative ideas, not only enhances employee satisfaction but it also engages employees. When we have autonomy in our job we are more likely to perform better, we are more committed to the company and feel pride in our work.

2. Growth and Development

As human beings, we naturally strive for improvement. We seek challenges and find solutions to improve our lives, our careers and our relationships with others. Pink describes this type of motivation as “mastery”, that people just want to be better at stuff. Employees are motivated by the desire to produce work that’s seen as a valuable contribution to the company.

3. Inspire Purpose

It’s important for organizations to inspire a sense of purpose in employees. I can remember in school when learning complex and intricate math theories, thinking,

“I’ll never use this, what’s the purpose in this?” When employees understand their unique role in the success of an organization they are motivated to perform well and gain a deeper satisfaction in their work.

The concept of motivating by inspiring a sense of purpose leads to flow in employees. “Flow” is described as a mental state of complete energized focus, involvement and enjoyment in the process of an activity.

Understanding how to effectively motivate our sales teams is beneficial to the success of our organizations and the happiness of our employees.

What are some effective ways you motivate your sales team? What are the desired and actual results of these techniques?