Using Game of Thrones to Understand Sales Motivation

A comprehensive sales motivation strategy isn’t always easy. Your salespeople might be bringing home the gold or losing their heads under pressure. Some may be motivated by travel incentives, while others value hard-earned, tangible trophies over cash rewards. With so many different personality types in any given sales team, it can be tough to know exactly how to motivate salespeople all at once. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide using Game of Thrones Houses as analogues for three different sales personality types.

A typical sales team usually has three types of salespeople: the laggard performers (Greyjoys—underachievers, complainers, glass-half-empty attitude), the average/standard performers (Starks—reliable, steadfast, decent performers), and stars performers (Lannisters—go-getters, enthusiastic, top performers). Dr. Rod Napier first introduced this idea as the 20-60-20 rule, asserting that most sales teams contain 20% negatives, 60% middles, and 20% positives. Your office may not follow this formula exactly (maybe you have a whole team of positives, or maybe you have an office crammed with negatives), but understanding these three types can be a helpful tool in creating effective sales incentive strategies and driving sales.

There are a few quick tips to keep in mind when considering the 20-60-20 rule and how to best motivate salespeople from each “House”:

How to Motivate Salespeople from House Greyjoy:

Negative Greyjoys can be a drain not only on team morale but also your time. Instead of spending hours listening to complaints and trying to fix problems (hint: Greyjoys will always find problems), try motivating them with peer recognition. Affirmation from coworkers can help push them to stay positive and moving forward–whatever floats their boat!

 How to Motivate Salespeople from House Stark:

Your salesforce is probably mostly made up of Starks—average performers who are dependable and self-sufficient. It can be easy to overlook them since they’re just keeping up the status quo. However, since Starks are your largest group, to increase sales among their group will have the biggest effect on your numbers. Offering training incentives can motivate Starks to hone their skills and help them get ahead.

How to Motivate Salespeople from House Lannister:

For your best performers, it can be easy to get bored once you’ve already climbed to the top. That’s why you should reward your Lannisters with exclusive rewards and travel incentives. They’ll feel appreciated being part of an elite group, and they’ll be sure to keep up the hard work so that crown doesn’t slip.