Sales Process

Motivating Your Sales Team: Values vs. Beliefs

Motivating Your Sales Team: Values vs. Beliefs


Motivating For Performance
 is one of the fundamental issues facing supervisors and leaders in the Brave New World, and nowhere is this more critical as in commercial environments.


Entrepreneurs and small business owners often ask me, “How do you get salespeople to perform when their motivation drops?”

Money is indeed a factor, and structuring your compensation is critical.  But let’s assume you’re a small business owner, you’ve got a small sales team in place with a fair financial arrangement, and you’re looking at other ways to motivate.

First, think about what motivates you in life, and at work.  Now think what might motivate one of your colleagues.  Do the same things inspire the two of you?

Maybe “yes” to some things, and “no” to others.  But the truth is, we’re all motivated by different things.  We all have a different set of values and beliefs.

Yet values and beliefs are not the same things.  It is important to understand this difference when attempting to motivate team members.


Values define what each of us wants out of life.  These are people’s priorities on what they deem to be important.  Examples of personal values are:

  • Material wealth
  • Career success
  • Prominence and fame
  • Family and friends
  • Loyalty
  • Security
  • Independence and self-reliance
  • Community involvement
  • Freedom

Personal values are usually established early in life, by adolescence, sometimes as late as early adulthood.

Major life-changing events may change a person’s values at a later stage.  But a supervisor who tries to persuade a worker to change his/her values will almost always fail.

As leaders, we should therefore not try to change people’s values.  It’s counter-productive.  We will lose more than we gain.


Beliefs are behind what people perceive to be “cause and effect.”  For example, we believe that something must happen in order to get what we want.  Or that we must do something for something else to happen a certain way.

Beliefs are more external than values.  They form our perception of how the world works.

Examples of personal beliefs are:

  • “Nice guys finish last in this business.”
  • “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
  • “Nobody wants our product.”
  • “Preparation brings results.”
  • “Success is one part inspiration and 99 parts perspiration.”
  • “If you don’t take risks, you’ll never do anything great.”

Leaders will have better success at motivating their salespeople if they focus on influencing their beliefs, as opposed to trying to change their values.  Even in beliefs, leaders should focus only on their people’s beliefs about the business.  Choose your challenges wisely.

Communication Is Not A City In Kazakhstan

If you’re sensing your sales team has lost motivation, is beginning to burn out, or simply needs a good dose of motivation, the first thing you must do is open a dialogue in a private environment.

The second thing you must do is… listen first.  Ask good questions, and really listen.

Get the salesperson’s view of their business world.  Understand their perspective of the marketplace.  Explore their beliefs… toward their buyers, your products, your mutual challenges.

As a leader, you should be in touch with the hearts and minds of your people.

If their beliefs are misguided, slowly but openly move the discussion towards your point-of-view.  If they resist, try to understand why.  Maybe your own beliefs will change in the process, or maybe they’ll come around.  But a significant first step will have been made.

Motivation Is Close To Home

Now, what decisions you need to make – as a result of what you’ve both learned about how the world works – cannot be identified here, but you will be one significant step closer to a more motivated salesperson.

Outside of changing compensation, how do you motivate your salespeople when the going gets rough?


Photo by MonoCounty