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People Management

6 Proven Ways to Motivate Your Remote Sales Team Without Burning Them Out

February 14, 2022
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5 mins

Motivate your sales team with these six proven ways to drive results (without burnout). Learn how to create a psychologically safe environment, hold impactful one-on-ones, and more.

Lawrence Barker
Motivate your sales team with these six proven ways to drive results (without burnout). Learn how to create a psychologically safe environment, hold impactful one-on-ones, and more.

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Have you ever struggled to hit aggressive sales targets without burning your team out? 

Sales managers (and teams) are always in the spotlight. If you can’t achieve your targets, the whole company feels the impact. You need to produce results, but how can you do it in a way that doesn’t burn your team out and create even bigger issues? 

Here are six proven ways you can motivate your remote sales team to achieve goals, without risking burnout and all the problems that come with it.

1. Create a psychologically safe environment

Safety is one of our most basic needs as humans.

You don’t have to worry about creating a physically safe workplace when leading a remote sales team, but do you know if you’ve created a psychologically safe environment for your team?

Psychologically safety is a vital group dynamic every leader should cultivate, but it’s often misunderstood. It’s different from trust. Your team members may trust you as a leader, but that doesn’t mean you’ve created a psychologically safe space for your whole group. 

In a psychologically safe space, the whole group believes no one will be punished or humiliated for speaking up. It’s safe to share ideas, concerns, or mistakes because you know you won’t be put down for it. Failure isn’t final, it’s a learning opportunity.

It’s not easy to create a psychologically safe culture on a remote sales team, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. There are many ways to build a psychologically safe environment for your team, but here are four ways to get started:

  1. Lead with vulnerability.
  2. Set rules for safe discussions and healthy conflict.
  3. Show consistent care for your team members.
  4. Create time for rest. 

Brooke Bachesta, Revenue Enablement Manager at, highlights how important it is to be intentional about creating a psychologically healthy culture when talking about making time for rest on her team:

“Building in time for rest is super important. That could mean sitting down with reps and planning ahead for a week-long vacation, or creating a spiff for a long weekend if you hit your quota early. As salespeople, I find that it’s super hard to take time off because it’s easy to get caught in the mindset that “I could always be doing more.” But mental health breaks are JUST as important as making those extra dials when it comes to long-term success!”

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2. Hold impactful one-on-ones

All one-on-ones are not created equal. 

Whether one-on-ones are a new concept or an established part of your routine, it’s easy for them to default to nothing more than a chance to share status updates. While updates are important, you can get them in other ways, so don’t waste your precious one-on-one time on them.

The key to having impactful one-on-ones is to make them about your direct report. Focus the conversation on them and their needs:

  • How can you support them better? 
  • What roadblocks can you help remove? 
  • What are their career goals and how can you help them achieve them? 

Questions like these will drive fruitful conversations and help motivate your direct reports.  

As you close out your one-on-ones, capture next steps and prioritize any commitments you make to your team. Doing so will build trust and demonstrate that you have their backs. You’ll be more aligned with each member of your sales team, and you’ll be better positioned to find unique ways to keep them engaged for the long run.

If you’re not already having regular one-on-ones with your team members, there’s no better time to start than this week! 

3. Invest in effective remote training

Effective remote training is critical for long-term motivation because no one likes feeling ill-equipped to do their jobs. Training is important for new hires and experienced members of your team. 

New hires are like sponges during onboarding. Since they’re new, they’re eager to learn and they quickly absorb all kinds of information about cultural norms and their new roles. 

To make the most of this season, prioritize creating a clear onboarding process and up-to-date documentation. Consider matching each new hire up with an experienced team member to function as a mentor and resource for them (bonus: this also helps your tenured team members stay sharp).

You may need to take a more customized approach to train your more experienced team members. Training can be tailored in several ways:

  • To help them progress on their career goals.
  • To address skill gaps and opportunities.
  • To refresh them on key processes.
  • To teach them new tools.

Creating custom e-learning courses is a great way to up-skill your remote sales team in a flexible, scalable way. 

4. Offer strong incentives

Offering the right incentives is a powerful lever. You can use them to keep your sales team motivated, especially when you’ve got aggressive sales targets to hit.

But choosing the right incentives for your sales team can be tricky. Your approach will vary based on your budget and your teams’ personalities, but there are some great best practices you can keep in mind to shape your incentive program:

  1. Uncapped is usually best. If you put a cap on the commission your sales team can earn, you’re telling them that once they’ve achieved the cap they should slow down. Why keep pushing if they can’t earn more? Maybe they’d be better off moving the deals in their pipeline into next month to make sure they can hit goal next month. To avoid this demotivating situation, default to uncapped commissions wherever possible.

  1. Consider your sales cycle length. If a typical deal takes months or quarters to close, you risk your team losing motivation part way through the funnel. You can combat this urge by using pre-sales incentives. Reward your team for things like moving deals to certain stages or reaching certain milestones (e.g. holding a successful demo).

  1. One size doesn’t fit all. Most sales teams have variable pay, so a primary incentive is always helping reps earn more money. But don’t assume money is your team’s sole motivation. Try introducing some variation into your incentive program. You can offer gift cards, tickets to special events, additional training opportunities, and more. 

5. Create a culture of recognition

Celebrating wins—even small wins—can have a massive impact on motivation and productivity.

If you want to keep your team motivated for the long haul, you need to find ways to recognize and celebrate peoples’ achievements regularly. Fortunately, it’s easy to get started on this immediately. 

To start today, try calling out some of your team members’ wins in Slack or a company-wide email. From there, build habits and systems that make recognition a normal part of your team and company culture. 

That may mean creating a peer bonus system. Or it could mean using Cameo to send your team custom video messages from their favorite celebrities. Or perhaps it means you spend $50 on Starbucks gift cards and send them to your team after a hard week.

The sky (and your creativity) are the only limits!

6. Focus on employee engagement

Burnout doesn’t happen overnight. By paying attention to employee engagement, you can often spot early warning signs that let you prevent burnout from ever happening. 

Employee engagement is a measure of the connection between an employee and their employer. It’s a tool you can use to gauge how your team is feeling about their roles and your company.

The benefits of engaged employees
are vast: higher productivity, less absenteeism, higher retention, and more. In short, engagement is not something you want to leave to chance.

Each of the strategies suggested in this article will help you keep your team engaged. But the best way to create an engaged team is to always keep engagement on your radar. 

That’s one reason so many companies have seen benefits from using Kona’s easy daily check-ins. By opening up a way for you to listen to your team and understand how they’re feeling every day, Kona makes it easy for you to keep one eye on employee engagement and prevent burnout before it happens. 

If you’re looking for a solution to help you prevent burnout on your remote sales team, Kona can help. You can get started for free (in less than five minutes).

Meet the Author

Lawrence Barker

Lawrence uses his decade of customer experience leadership to create content for B2B SaaS companies that love their customers. He writes on a broad range of topics, all with the aim of helping human-centered companies attract the right customers and empower them to be successful.

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