Keeping Your All-Star Agents Motivated

Every manager knows that sometimes their fellow sales agents lack motivation.  Let’s face it, it’s an issue that comes and goes in any business.  At FPG, we strive to keep our agents motivated at all times; but it can prove difficult.  Here are some strategies to use in order to keep your team strong, enthused, and determined to reach company goals.


First, consider that everyone on a team is not the same.


In fact, each person needs to be treated differently.  An article by Thomas Steenburgh and Michael Ahearne with the Harvard Business Review, says that progressive companies tend to treat their sales force like a “portfolio of investments, that require different levels and kinds of attention.”  Each person on a team has a different internal drive from the next – what motivates one won’t necessarily motivate the next.

The article breaks down salespeople into three different categories: star, laggard, and core performers. If you are a star performer, for instance, you may be able to tackle anything that stands in your way, but if a ceiling is imposed on your efforts, your motivation takes a nose dive.  If you are a laggard performer, perhaps you need extra attention, guidance, and assistance making your sales goals.  A little help can go a long way with a laggard performer.  The core performance group tends to fall somewhere in the middle – they may not get much attention but are often highly motivated by incentives.  Here are some ideas for how to motivate each type of these agents.


The Star

According to Ahearne and Steenburgh, star performers typically view the end goal as attainable, regardless of stepping stones crossed on the way there.  They are already motivated by reaching the highest goal possible.  These may typically be free-spirited, self-motivated, high energy individuals.  However, if this group feels held back, either by commission ceilings or limits, it can affect their motivation over the long haul.  In this situation, they may work less once a goal threshold has been met.  They need to be continually challenged.  A leader would be wise to find ways to reward these agents above and beyond their normal incentives, thus keeping the fire alive and the goals constantly evolving.


The Laggard

This group often contains new hires in need of additional training and senior sales agents who have become complacent.  Research shows that this group is often motivated by continual rewards – bonuses or perks that happen more frequently, reminding the laggards that they have something to look forward to.  They may also need more recurring goals to keep them on track.  Most importantly, they need attention and affirmation to keep going.  Well-designed strategies and goals within your group can “increase a laggard’s sense of responsibility to the team and motivate stars to help the laggards out.”


The Core

Core performers need multiple targets to keep them focused – the more the better.  This keeps them focused on achieving short, reasonable goals and gives them the personal satisfaction needed to go after the next goal.  Each tier represents a next-level achievement for core performers and drives them to press on.



Everyone, to some degree, is motivated by prizes.  At FPG, we love our prizes – both giving them and getting them!  We are big on rewards and place a strong emphasis on taking care of our agents.  When setting internal prize or contest goals for your agents, consider how to make the prizes able to be attained by each performance category – set realistic goals and expectations, assist those who need more assistance, reward everyone fairly based on their level of performance, and find a way to reward each group separately from the next.


Overall Takeaway

Remember the old adage, “Different strokes for different folks.”  No two people are the same.  Similarly, every agent adds a unique value to their agency.  The ultimate goal is to think about the individuals on your team, identify what their personality type is, and discover what is most likely to motivate them – then, tailor your training and programs and rewards towards each group.


Always remember, we are all in this together! Let’s keep up the great work!

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