Ask someone in the presence of other people if their company and sales organization drives value for their customers, and they’ll say yes. Ask them confidentially in a research study, and you’ll get a wholly different answer.

Everyone says value makes a difference in sales and business results. We wanted to test that assumption and see just what kind of difference it makes. As a part of our “Top-Performing Sales Organization” research, we studied 472 sellers and executives at mid-size and large companies globally.

Of 72 core factors we studied, five were geared toward assessing an organization’s customer focus and value orientation:

  • Our sales organization focuses on driving maximum value for the customer.
  • Our sales force structure is aligned with the way our customers prefer to buy from us.
  • Our sales process is customer-focused and maps to our buyers’ buying processes.
  • Our sales process is flexible to apply to our buyers’ various roles and situations.
  • Our company leaders prioritize developing sellers to be as valuable to our buyers as possible.

Sixteen percent of respondents agreed with all five. We compared this group, which we labeled Value-Driving Sales Organizations, with the remaining 84 percent, which we called Non-Value-Driving Sales Organizations. The differences between the two groups are fascinating.

Value-Driving Sales Organizations:

  • Were more likely than Non-Value-Driving Sales Organizations to grow revenue (90% vs. 72%)
  • Had higher win rates on their proposals (54% vs. 45%)
  • Had lower undesired year-over-year sales force turnover (27% vs. 39%)

This last point indicates that the sellers like where they work and believe in what they’re selling. Sellers will tell you, “If I believe in what I’m selling, I can sell so much more of it.” When sellers work at an organization they believe prioritizes driving customer value, and when their leaders prioritize helping sellers to create said value, seller motivation is, in fact, drastically higher.

It was interesting just how high the motivation ratings were for Value-Driving Sales Organizations compared to Non-Value-Driving Sales Organizations. Certainly, sellers bring their own intrinsic motivation to their jobs, but it’s up to the organization to tap into seller motivation at a high level and sustain it. Having a true focus on value for buyers— “true” meaning that everyone says they focus on value, but in reality some do and some don’t—correlates highly to seller motivation. Perhaps nothing is as demotivating to sellers as needing to hit quota and selling as much as possible regardless of whether it adds value to buyers.

Too many organizations focus on motivation directly—they bring in a “rah-rah” speaker and try to “psych up” the sales force to hit their quotas. This method doesn’t work as well as simply driving value for customers.

Motivation in Value-Driving vs. Non-Value-Driving Sales Organizations

Motivation in Value-Driving vs. Non-Value-Driving Sales Organizations

When organizations focus on driving value—when leaders really mean it and aren’t just giving customer value lip service—motivation just about doubles.

The title of this article, “How to Double Sales Force Motivation,” perhaps even undersells the point. If, for example, 44 percent of Non-Value-Driving Sales Organizations have cultures that drive and support seller motivation, you can’t get much higher than double! And yet, even in this case, it does. Double would be 88 percent, and Value-Driving Sales Organizations achieve 96 percent on this point.

In any case, the message is clear: Focus on value, and you’ll unleash seller motivation.