What If You Make Motivation Your Competitive Advantage?

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Guest Post by: Christian Erburu is the founder and CEO for Monitae based in Barcelona, Spain.


We all have suffered at some point from a lack of motivation at work. It specially affects entrepreneurs launching a startup in a bumpy road.

It´s well known that dopamine, a feel-good chemical produced by the brain, is triggered by in pleasurable and joyous moments. Recent research now indicates, it has more to do with wanting and motivation. Another study reveals that high-achievers are far more likely to be manic depressives.

What if being happy could make you a better entrepreneur?

As all entrepreneurs know, happy people are clearly more positive, creative, and productive, even if they have a lower compensation plan. A happier sales team will deliver better results, increasing the number of quota- hitters and raising overall client satisfaction.

That being said, employee engagement and motivation are not easy to deal with. Maybe it’s because they are much more influenced by factors that are not explicitly results, and because when we talk about how motivated our team is there are many reasons that things could go bad: a low-value product, insufficient sales training or misguided quota-setting.

Hey, looks like we have a chicken-and-egg situation here. An under- motivated workforce will produce low results and poor results will decrease motivation.

Luckily, there are some ways to cheat the problem, at least for your salespeople, and not all of them should cause friction between the team members.

Here are my views.

Setting different levels of attention and accounting for individual differences are part of a good approach to the problem. How do you motivate core performers without discouraging the laggards? Well, Thomas Steenburgh and Michael Ahearne did an excellent job describing their vision in the HBR article Motivating Salespeople: What really works.

Their central theme is that managers should set varying standards and prize levels to motivate staff, divided into core performers, laggards, and stars. Core performers react positively to the push to exert more effort and reach additional tiers. Laggards, on the other hand, typically aim for and are satisfied with achieving the first-tier target, and are more motivated when they feel some social pressure, like sales leaderboards or pace setting goals.

Motivating stars is more challenging. Stars generally are very driven by financial compensation, so it´s important to include overachievement commissions, avoid placing any ceiling on their commissions, and offer at least as many prizes in any sales contest as there are stars in the sales force.


There’s no magic formula that fits all teams and situations. You will have to dedicate some time for trial-and-error experiments to identify the method that works best for your personnel needs. Remember that when it comes to motivating your team, you are not alone; everybody in the company can do their best to change a tough process into something simpler, faster, and more productive that ultimately will raise the entire workforce morale.


Author´s Bio

Monitae logoChristian Erburu is the founder and CEO for Monitae. He has been an entrepreneur for the last 14 years and, after four startups and many mistakes, he knows well all the bumps you may find along the way to market acceptance. He is a technology geek and Spanish wine lover. Monitae is a software startup that helps sales teams achieve their highest potential through the power of friendly sales competitions. Managers can also easily build up courses to coach the team and motivate the behaviors that drive results.