7 Best Practices to Design Motivating Consequences for Pharmaceutical Sales Teams

June 2018 | By Danielle Hochstein, Ph.D.

motivating-pharma-sales-teams-with-consequencesIs your pharmaceutical sales team motivated? If you are like most sales leaders, you look to KPIs to find out. And that’s a good start – after all, making your sales targets at least indicates that you are putting in the work to be successful. Or, a nice bonus might be the motivator to continue hitting sales targets.

However, we tend to overlook the fact that sales environments are high-pressure, punishing environments to work in, especially when it comes to pharmaceutical sales. Salespeople often face barriers that are out of their control, and failures can stack up quickly.

So, how do you get your sales teams to deliver consistently, stay motivated, and think outside of the box to generate new opportunities?

Many of us are energized by sales conversations, which is likely a reason you got into sales in the first place. The best sales teams have leaders who go the extra mile. They know how to continuously encourage and support the individual sales drive in a targeted way. And that’s where consequences come in.

What Do We Mean By Consequence?

At the core, a consequence is something that happens as a direct result of an action. Like driving up your heart rate after a good workout. Or receiving that yummy burger after placing an order at Shake Shack.

How does this apply to sales? With consequences, you can encourage behaviors that will lead to results, and keep people motivated and engaged. Sales leaders who are good motivators consider these best practices when designing consequences for their pharma sales teams:

1. Baseline

The first step is to be really clear about the behavior you are trying to impact. What exactly do you want to accomplish? What does success look like? Be specific and objective about the behaviors you are currently seeing and what behaviors you want to see from individual sales team members.

2. Effect

What are you trying to do with the consequences you provide? Do you want to encourage a behavior (make it more likely it happens again next time)? Do you want to discourage a behavior (make it less likely to happen again)? Consider the effects of the consequence carefully before you set them in motion.

3. Personal Value

Every individual has different motivations. Do you know what type of consequences are important to the individuals on your team? We often wrongly assume that what motivates us is what also motivates others. Make sure you understand what your sales team members value, so you can better customize your consequences. One common indicator for what your team members value may come from looking at generational differences and related preferences. But remember- never assume you know what motivates people. Find out from them!

4. Range

When we hear the word consequence, we often think back to our childhood when our parents would say, “Don’t do this, or you’ll face the consequences.” We knew then and there the consequences wouldn’t be pleasant and probably involve some sort of punishment. But, consequences don’t always have to be punishing.

In fact, at any given time there is a wide range of consequences we can choose from to motivate others. For example, providing positive verbal or written feedback is a consequence, and one that most of us value. You can think of tangible consequences, like a bonus, or intangible consequences like giving someone access to an activity or responsibility they really want. Sometimes, simply letting people engage in their work and ensuring they get to experience the successful completion of a task can be motivating. In other words, don’t get stuck with the few consequences you always use. Try to broaden your range.

5. Timing

In today’s world, we are inundated by feedback all day long. Our smartphones continuously beep, whistle, and ring, telling us about what people think about our tweets, emails, or Instagram posts. We’re accustomed to getting a near-instant response or reaction to everything we do. So, when you think about applying consequences with your team, keep in mind that the most impactful consequences tend to be those that are applied within a close timeframe to the actual behavior.

6. Predictability

How likely are your pharmaceutical sales team members to actually experience a given consequence? When you plan to use consequences to drive specific behavior, make sure you are consistent with delivering the consequences. That’s the only way to ensure you reap the maximum results.

7. Commitment

Sustainable behavior change takes time. Giving encouraging consequences for a brief period may give you a brief improvement in performance, but habits don’t change instantly. Ensure you are staying the course until you know the desired behavior can continue with less frequent encouragement.

When you consider these best practices and implement consequences in a thoughtful way, you’re sure to get the results you want. And, these won’t just be short-term improvements. You will see long-term improvements leading to a new level of success for your pharmaceutical sales team.


7 Things To Consider When Using Consequences To Shape Behavior. Download The Infographic.

Topics: Pharmaceutical Sales