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what motivates sales reps

A motivated seller will try harder and work longer, knowing that the reward is not just in the results, but in the work itself. A channel partner sales team full of driven individuals will direct more sales your way. That’s a time tested fact. But how to get the sales professionals motivated in the first place? What motivates sales partners?

The answer is simple. You need to encourage them to believe in the product themselves, while also making it easy for them to sell. Of course, a sales incentive also will pay dividends, but the motivation from commission alone is usually not quite as effective as when it is combined with the first two tactics. And you will also see a bump in sales figures when pride and internal recognition are on the line.

Confidence in What They’re Selling

Let’s focus on one area at a time. What motivates channel sales reps the most is having a product that they can actually stand behind. If you have buy-in amongst your partner sales partners, that’ll make it much easier for them to sell the product to others. In effect, you need to make the product marketable enough that the reps in the channel would buy it themselves given a business need for it.

Buy-in among reps can also fall into another category, and that’s how the product can impact the buyer. If they see value in the product for applications outside of their own needs, that’s a surefire way for them to increase sales. They now have leverage in additional areas. A positive attitude is often contagious, and sales is no exception. Give the partner sales reps a chance to see value in your offerings, and they’ll use this optimism to increase sales in the channel.

Ease of Sales

Another huge contributor to what motivates sales partners is the ease with which they can sell the product. You might have a great product with outstanding features and incredible buy-in from your channel partners, but this only goes so far. If the sales reps have to go through an arduous process to create sales proposals, this will decrease sales.

Make it easy for the sales reps to do whatever they deem necessary to lock down sales. This could be calculating their margins in the channel to determine how best to make an attractive deal, or creating multiple quotes to provide options for a picky customer. 

A partner portal provides instantaneous access to trainings, playbooks, co-branded marketing materials, smooth deal registration, and other features designed to enable the sales process. This speeds up turnaround times and enables partners to be more effective so they ultimately see big financial rewards. And, as we all know, nothing motivates channel partners quite like a regular profit.


As opposed to many other ways to motivate sales partners, incentives are a wholly extrinsic factor for motivation. Simple: you sell more, you get rewarded more. The key here isn’t that you should or should not be providing incentives. It’s how you should balance them. You need to reward high sellers, but not to the point where the diminutive size or outright lack of reward for the lower ranks turns into discouragement.



Sometimes, an incentive doesn’t serve so much as a motivator on its own, but provides a platform for high-performing sellers to be recognized. Sometimes that’s more important than the value of whatever incentive is tacked on.



Without going into a deep psychological discussion, pride is a motivator for a vast number of human decisions. Sales reps are still human after all, and they can readily accept that by selling more, they can be proud of the work they do. Even more, they can take pride in the fact that they outsold last quarter’s numbers, or are within the top 25% of the sales team, or any other metric that they find to be motivating.

In fact, when looking at what motivates sales partners, it seems as though the last three items can be fairly intertwined. An incentive can be motivation enough alone, but the pride gained from the recognition when the incentive was awarded can also be a motivator to continue the sales success into the next term.

Bottom Line About Sales Partner Motivation

In some ways, the challenge with figuring out what drives sales reps isn’t in finding the big areas that you can focus on. It’s in the details, such as how you’ll be able to maintain a fresh sense of buy-in after sales in the channel have been steady for a while.

Do you have any ways you’ve successfully motivated channel sales partners? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2016 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.