Motivation in a Sales Force

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorUniversity, Master's February 2008

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The idea of writing for the significance of motivation in a sales force came up to me when I read about the case of Kathryn.

Kathryn works as a sales rep manager in Biolab pharmaceutical company that is a huge manufacturer of Ethical drugs noted for its biological and blood related products.

Although she was expecting to get a promotion as a reward for her 3 year contribution in the firm, the results came up against her expectations. She didn?t manage to take the promotion as she was accused that she wasn?t able to motivate her sales reps as worked harder. On the other hand, Kathryn states that as her sales reps were new on the job and they are busy on learning the job and that when they learn the job they should try to work harder. She also believes that the compensation policies referring to sales department are very strong motives for sales reps to work harder.

In a discussion that she has with her husband she decided to talk to her manager and explain him that she has worked very hard for the company. She is planning to mention him that the sales managerial literature of the company clarifies that the firm?s compensational policies provide the bulk of motivational thrust.

Regarding Kathryn?s case, we observe a personality that has no motivational skills as she seems not to recognize and understand the value motivating others in order to perform well and add value to the firm. She seems to have no idea of what motivates people in a work field as she doesn?t bother to understand her reps and help them interested for the job, feel secure or well informed about growth and promotional opportunities recognizing their efforts, and showing empathy to their problems.

Kathryn?s philosophies about motivation are mistaken. During the conversation with her husband Kathryn states that because she was the one that hired the sales reps, the one who trained them and sets all the compensation policies she has done her work above average.

Although I agree with her that if the sales reps are new in the job, they first have to learn the job and then work harder on the other hand it is her responsibility to motivate them, teach them to work faster and triggering them to get interested for the job. And Compensations are not the only motive that will stimulate people to work harder.

And there is confusion in her mind regarding motivation. Motivation is a topic of continuing psychological significance and is also one which continues to attract the attention of those who would influence and manage the motivation of other people in organizations. If somebody knows what motivates others, and then automatically he or she knows which buttons to press to make others work harder, he/she knows what levers to press to make its subordinates change attitudes and what rewards and sanctions will get others support for a particular package of changes ? so to influence behaviors in desirable directions.

According to Masslow?s theory of needs sales people have firstly physiological, safety, social, esteem and self actualization needs. During its career a sales person must satisfy all those needs.

Most important are the physiological needs, the basic needs that a person has for food, shelter etc. A good and decent income must fulfill those needs. Then safety needs. Those are covered through a safe and stable work environment that the manager and the sales reps have to create. Social needs are covered through social relationships and acceptance from others, A sales manager has to make sure that his or her sales reps are able to work as a team for a common goal, in an environment of constant meetings in order to cooperate, exchange valuable information and share their observations This environment has to provide the same opportunities for each members in order to work properly and effective for the sales reps. A sales manager has to make sure that his or her sales reps are able to work as a team for a common goal that they are meeting in a stable basis in order to cooperate, share their observations, feel part of a team and competence doesn?t not affect their relationships, as they have to work for a common goal. As we move on to Masslow?s Pyramid, esteem needs take place. Sales managers must be sure that their sales reps feel fully that their performance is recognized and they are rewarded for their hard work. Last but not least are the needs for self actualization. Reps have to feel independent, that they are able to make decisions and take action in the work field in order creativity to occur. Thus a sales manager has to provide some authority to sales reps, to promote executive training and assignments to special projects.

If a sales manager doesn?t want to apply in such a deep analysis he or she has can refer at least to the Dual factor theory in which needs are categorized into two segments. The hygiene factors and then the motivational factors. The first refer to the basic needs that a person has through a job such as compensations, job security etc. The second are referring to secondary needs such as recognition, social and self actualization needs.

Expectancy theory on the other hand states that managers provide the starting point for understanding and individual?s motivation. Sales reps do not only have to cover their needs but they also evaluate the rewards that take for a special effort and if those rewards are attainable to their performance and if hard effort leads to improved performance. Sales reps have to clarify what they have to do in order to perform better and sales managers are those that are responsible for avoiding any kind of role conflicts that may occur in a sales department. Thus managers have to advise reps, train them, update them with new information, help them as they suppose to have more experience in the work field and push them to work harder and more tactful in order to achieve efficiency and effectiveness and add value to the organization.

As sales reps sometimes fall in the trap of role ambiguity and role conflict managers have to provide clear plans in order those two not to occur. Role ambiguity happens when the sales person hasn?t clarified what it is expected from him or her and role conflict is presented when sales people are confused of whom they have to serve; the sales manager or the organization. Managers have to by ethical and clarify to the sales reps that they are not the leaders but parts of the organization that work as a mean for sales people to work as a team for a specific vision a specific mission and a common goal all in favor of the organization.

All the above mentioned issues differ among sales representatives according to their personal characteristics. Demographic characteristics, psychological traits, experience and career stages are evidence that a sales manager has to take into serious consideration in order to lead a sales team.

Management?s task is to select the right combination of motivators the right motivational mix for a given sales force.

In order a sales person to motivate effective its sales reps has to understand that there are two kind of motivational tools. The financial rewards and the none financial ones.

Financial rewards are focused on compensation plans such as salaries, commissions and sales contests that are followed by prizes. Non financial rewards are focused on recognitions awards, encouragement and opportunities for promotion. Also sales meetings and team building schedules are one of the most common methods of motivating sales forces. The most important aspect of sales meetings is communication that makes people feel that they are part of a team, exchange information and reward recognition for their achievements. Thus a creative competition is possible to arise.

Motivation in an organizational context is a social process in which some people try to influence others to work harder and more effective. Organizations as social arrangements are depended on being able to motivate their members to join to stay and to perform at acceptable levels. Organization managers are thus very interested in theories of motivation in the hope that they will discover techniques for motivating people to work harder and also be loyal, committed, flexible and innovative.

The most widely used technique which motivation theories have generated is the technique of job enrichment. Job enrichment is a technique for changing the design and experience for work to enhance employee need satisfaction and to improve work motivation and performance.

In order a sales people to achieve its goal the job has to fulfill experience meaningfulness that is the extent to which the individuals considers the work to be meaningful, valuable and worthwhile, experienced responsibility which the extent to which individual feels accountable for the work output and knowledge of results which is the extent to which individuals understand how well they are performing.

There are 5 concepts that can help the manager to enrich the job for its sales reps.

Firstly or she can provide a form of combined tasks, in order to give employees more than one part of the work to do. This increases the variety of the job and the contribution that the individual makes to the product or service. On the other hand he can form natural work units by which employees can have meaningful sequence of work to perform than a fragmented part of what is required. This increases the contribution that the individual makes to the work and increases the significance of the job. To establish customer relationships, is another way of job enrichment. Give employees responsibility for making personal contact with others within and outside the organization for whom they work. This increases variety, gives the person freedom in performing the work and also increases the opportunities for receiving feedback. In contribution with opening feedback channel that is to give employees direct relationship with clients and direct performance summaries job becomes more interested for the reps as social and self actualization needs are cultivated.

In conclusion my opinion regarding Kathryn?s case is that Kathryn focuses only on the training programs and believes that the only things that will drive and motivate her sales reps are the compensation policies. Kathryn must understand that her reps in order to work effective and efficient, that they have other needs beyond money and as she has other needs such as rewards, recognition and interest for her job.

Because compensation policies are preplanned from the company, Kathryn has to find other ways to motivate her sales reps. Meetings new training programs, projects that will provide them knowledge, recognition and encouragement are some elements of the motivational mix that should combined with a well executed sales management program.

Kathryn has to reevaluate her philosophy of motivation as she has togive more emphasis in non financial rewards and especially in the importance of team work and job enrichment.

Before she talks to her superior and explain him how she feels I think that Kathryn has to calm and reevaluate all her philosophies about motivation. In her position I would care more for the mistakes that led me to failure. My opinion is that before she makes any attack it would be better for her to ask her manager what he believes her mistakes were and to analyze them with him in order to improve her self. In order to succeed she has to feel a part of a team and this is the first step.

WORK SITED Hackman, J.R.,Oldham, G., Janson, R. and Purdy, K.1975 ?a new strategy for job enrichment?, California Management review, vol 17, no.4, pp.57-71 Georgopoulos, B.S., Mahoney, G.M. and Jones, N.W., 1957, ?A path ? goal approach to productivity?, Journal of applied Psychology, vol.41, no 6, pp345-353 Spiro, Rosann L, Gregory A. Rich, 2003, Directing sales force Operation, ?Management of a sales force?, vol.11pp.223-249