I used to love Bill Nye the Science Guy when I was kid. Okay, I still love Bill Nye! Bill made science feel easy by taking complex topics and relating them to things in our everyday life. Vectors, Bill would teach, were quantities that had magnitude and direction. Clear measurement is key for scientists to produce great results, and the same elements are true when creating a winning formula for sales productivity.

In sales, magnitude equals motivation, and productivity will never happen without clear direction. It’s just like science! All the motivation in the world won’t propel your sales team anywhere until you channel that energy toward specific goals. You must first communicate effectively what you want to achieve, and then tailor rewards to those goals.

People will do precisely what you pay them to do. If you pay them only for sales, customer service will suffer. Pay them to compete, and they’ll find ways to sabotage each other, often, but not always, subconsciously. Sales leaders have to be smarter than that.
This six-step formula will help you make your sales team more successful and productive:

Graphic image of man and women pointing out the six step formula to boost sales team productivity


The most important aspect of creating a successful sales formula is to set in place a clear process to inspect exactly what you expect from your sales team.

“Inspecting what you expect has two core elements,” says David Smith, VP of Small and Midsize Business at Microsoft. “First, having aligned and clear measures for business success. These measures are formal and documented and have integrity. The measures also have no questions as to the accountability model and who owns what. This is ‘what we expect.’ Second is that there is a simple and consistent process to ‘inspect’ what is expected.”


Harvard Business Review’s study of sales motivation reinforces the fact that, although commissions bring sales people to work, money is rarely the key motivator once they arrive.

According to the study, many companies saw vastly better performance by treating sales teams like investment portfolios, with special attention and compensation for each personality type. The study broke sales teams into stars, core performers, and laggards.

Stars need both recognition and comp plans without caps to encourage them to go further and achieve more.

Core performers are more motivated when there are levels of prizes because they know they can’t reach star status, but they don’t want to be identified as laggards.

Laggards may be just gearing up or preparing to move on. Developing a strong pipeline of new sales talent is the greatest motivator for laggards due to the “man on the bench” effect referenced in the Harvard study.


The right kind of healthy competition can be incredibly motivational, giving everyone in sales a reason to reach for the stars. The wrong kind of competition just destroys teamwork, encourages cannibalization, and makes everyone suspicious of everyone else.

Guess which type is more common?

Gamification is designed to separate the motivational aspects of competition from the unproductive effects of rivalries. For example, you can launch a fantasy sports platform where sales people are drafted every week. Different metrics can be placed on various positions on the team so the team collaborates to reach goals.

Go beyond just “number of closes,” which will only lead to churn unless balanced metrics are in place. Rewarding measures like referrals, customer satisfaction, and brand reach mean more for company health over the long term.

As an example, Microsoft recently acquired Fantasy Sales Team, an innovative sales gamification platform that helps organizations boost sales productivity, drive revenue, and improve CRM adoption through collaboration and team-based competition.


Choose rewards that align with company strategy. They should be work-related incentives, like the latest Surface Pro tablet. A tip: survey the team to make sure prizes aren’t devices that they already own or are demotivating in any way.

By doing this, you will both reward the winners and test productivity-enhancing technology that helps them do their jobs better. And if it works well, it can be rolled out to the rest of the team.

Another good way to combine rewards with productivity is with a team outing. Let the winner choose a restaurant for a team dinner, or arrange a team-building day at an amusement park chosen by the winner, for example.


Have you noticed how many apps claim to improve your productivity? A lot of companies just go ahead and sign up for scores of these productivity apps, and in most cases all this “productivity” does is slow down the sales cycle.

Assess your sales team to find out which tools are used most often by the most productive team members, and then make sure those tools integrate easily with your CRM solution. To get started, use this list of 3rd party partner solutions that work with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Your team should have sufficient training to do their jobs without being frustrated by technology. When you get rid of extraneous apps and the security threats they bring, they will be able to focus and become experts on the most productive tools.


Finally, the ultimate tool your team needs is a healthy pipeline. The best companies generate the most leads when their sales departments are aligned with their marketing functions, ensuring everyone works towards unified business goals. Make sure your sales team understands the current marketing campaigns and resources in place so they can use those tactics to help grow their pipelines and focus on what they do best…. SELLING!

Check out the ModernBiz campaign for marketing materials that can be used out of the box or customized to meet your unique marketing needs, and visit Smart Partner Marketing for advice from Microsoft experts and partners.

Happy selling!

Alex S Signature

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