What truly motivates people? A recent study from MIT found that, surprisingly, not everyone is motivated by money. In fact, those performing more cognitive tasks, such as sales, were less inclined to see money as a motivator.

In addition to understanding motivation among your sales team, be aware of the shift from the “me” centered workplace to the “we” centered workplace. In this kind of work environment, it’s less about the individual and more about collaboration.

If we can get our teams motivated and working together, we’ll have a better workplace for employees, which can lead to happier customers and more profits.

Embrace the Performance Pyramid

At some point in our schooling, most of us have heard about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. At the base of Maslow’s pyramid are physiological needs, such as food and warmth. The second most important need is safety. Then, social needs, esteem needs and, finally, self-actualization at the top of the pyramid.

 I’ve applied theses needs to create a performance pyramid. At the base, all employees want to feel safe and secure in their jobs. If this need isn’t met, they typically don’t perform well. Employees should also know when the business is doing well and when it isn’t.

Moving up the pyramid, the second need is rewards. All employees, regardless of their position, should be rewarded for a job well done. These rewards can be anything from offering summer hours or giving an additional day off around a holiday.

The third need in the pyramid is growth. Everyone is looking for growth opportunities. Are you providing them to your employees? Is there a path laid out so they can see how they might move up in the dealership or gain more responsibilities in their current position?

The next two parts of the pyramid are affiliation and work/life harmony. Consider asking people to lead certain committees, for instance. And, recognize the importance of the work/life balance for yourself and your employees.

Develop Your Leadership Style

Many people don’t really know what their leadership style is. This is something you want to define and develop. There are 6 different leadership styles:

  1. Visionary: “Come with me” approach, stating the overall goal, but giving people the freedom to choose their own means of achieving it
  2. Coaching: Focused on personal development rather than immediate work-related tasks
  3. Affiliative: “People come first” attitude
  4. Democratic: Giving employees a voice in decisions
  5. Pacesetting: Setting high performance standards and exemplifying them
  6. Commanding: “Do what I say” approach

The visionary style of leadership will have the most positive impact on your dealership and should be the leadership style you should strive for. Adapt your style little-by-little to achieve a visionary leadership style.

Accountability Equals Motivation

Most of the time, accountability is left to the individual and there are no company metrics. It’s very important for us to always establish accountability metrics. Do not wait until there is a problem to put standards in place. A good wait to start this process is to develop 3 core accountability expectations for every department. Then, work with your team to help define how these expectations can be achieved.


Image, credited to Ryan Dohrn

Whatever your role is in leadership at your dealership, the experiences that you create for individual team members drive their belief in you. If you’ve created great experiences, this will lead to better beliefs and more positive actions.