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Friday, July 23, 2010

Motivations and Achievements

“Will I be able to achieve the sales target?” This would be the first question of sales personnel once the target has been set. Aside from motivations, there are other factors to be considered in fulfilling a goal. Motivation alone is not enough. The goal or objective, or the target itself is very important. Before tackling motivation as huge factor in achieving something, it is first important to emphasize that the target itself should be “attainable” in order for the individuals concerned to start feeling motivated. In layman’s term, the target itself needs to be “realistic”. If the average sales of an organization, say a company called NL&C ranges from $15,000 to $20,000, setting a target of $50,000 for each person is quasi-impossible. Thus, the sales team in this instance would not even try to think of achieving such a “dreamy” target. On the other hand, if the sales manager sets a target of $30,000, that may get everyone moving if the rewards for this achievement is worth the effort. This is where real motivation comes in.

Studies have shown that there is a growing consensus that “any model of work motivation should include the underlying process variables that explain how goals affect work motivation” (Wright, 2004; Kanfer 1992; Katzell and Thompson 1990; Mitchell 1997).The book Human Resource Management by R. Wamyn Mondt has taught yours truly the foundations when it comes to motivation and management, but when NL&C asked for advice, thinking “outside the textbook” and imagining a real world is necessary. Thus, as advice to the sales manager, the sales force of NL&C may get motivated to achieve their targets when there is/are:

1. Not too high basic pay but relatively higher commission – this makes the sales person sell more as he or she gets a chunk of what he or she sells;

2. Reward points and cash awards – the amount of sales can be converted to points. These points may be converted to cash, travel, or equivalent after a certain level is reached. For example, 10 points is awarded per $10,000 sales revenue and 1000 points is convertible to a week fully covered holiday for two in Boracay Islands in the tropical Philippines or in Pukhet Thailand. Cash awards are given for example to highest seller of the period;

3. Organizational position step-up– this is a traditional approach but all the same effective. Once a sales agent reaches sales level of $1,500,000, that person becomes “senior sales associate” and while the junior earns 10% commission rate, the senior gets 12%: this surely is a great way to motivate;

4. Recognition programs- every month there is a “Plaque of Best Sales Person” or the likes to recognize the efforts of those who worked hard and in most cases, the trophy or plaque carries also a certain amount of cash with it. In this manner, not only the cash motivates the team-member but also the honor being recognized by and presented to the whole organization as an achiever.

Above are only some of the many ways to motivate in sales force. It is however very important as a manager to be careful whether to apply the "praise vs. blame" ( Graham, 1994, p. 5) approach. It is not a simple approach of management as it may demoralize the team if applied wrongfully while it may motivate team members at times. A “terror type” of manager may motivate “scared” team-members but may demoralize them as well with fear.

Moreover, it was noted that “motivation must be understood not as a series of separate "needs" but as the dynamic aspect of the very functioning of a living organism." (Nuttin, 1984, p. 60) This means that sales agent B can be more motivated this time to get the award because he is attracted to agent F in the team and wants to show her what an “achiever” he is. This was not the case last month when agent F was not a member of the organization yet.

Another good factor to consider when talking about motivation is that “intrinsic motivation is self-generated, extrinsic motivation requires a continual supply of funds or other external (and costly) rewards."(Lawler, 1998). Thus, if an organization like NL&C needs to motivate its sales team at a lower expense, they must be creative and trigger the intrinsic motivating factors in them. That is actually possible as one study says, “all the motivation they need can be found in them." (Dunphy & Aupperle, 2001, p. 18). Thus, no reason for us all not to be one of those who are motivated.


Dunphy, S. M., & Aupperle, K. E. (2001, October). Flight Plan: Motivation. T&D, 55, 18.

Lawler, J. J. (1998). Not Just for the Money: an Economic Theory of Personal Motivation. Personnel Psychology, 51(3), 740+.

(1994). 1 Introduction to Motivation: Theory and Research. In Motivation: Theory and Research, O'Neil, H. F. & Drillings, M. (Eds.) (pp. 1-6). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Nuttin, J. (1984). Motivation, Planning, and Action: A Relational Theory of Behavior Dynamics (Lorion, R. P. & Dumas, J. E., Trans.). Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press; Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Wright, B. E. (2004). The Role of Work Context in Work Motivation: A Public Sector Application of Goal and Social Cognitive Theories. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 14(1), 59+.

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