Appreciation. Often confused with recognition, this form of motivation focuses on the associate's contribution to the greater good of the organization. Ideally, each associate's value in that respect is mutually understood and measured, making it easier for managers to express appreciation and inspire motivation. Often, says Mehrmann, appreciation comes in the form of training and professional development to sustain or expand the employee's value to the company. A new computer or software that lets an associate do a better job or meet an objective also fits the bill.

Recognition. This tactic is about personal performance, specifically attaining a stated, agreed-upon goal. It can also apply to a team, group, or division. Recognition can be written or verbal but is ideally supplemented with a lasting gesture, such as a certificate or award. Given publicly, the award also may motivate others to earn the same level of recognition.

Compensation. Sales associates, especially, are measured by their contributions to a company's bottom line–and measure their value, in large part, by what the company pays them and how. Clearly defined, easily understood commission or bonus plans are a common, effective motivator for the sales team.