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Sales - 6 min READ

The big list of sales incentive ideas (besides money)

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Author photo: Surbhi Dhawan

Surbhi Dhawan


Is your sales team lagging behind on their targets or not approaching clients with the same energy as usual? With aggressive quotas, commission-based pay, and frequent rejections, your sales team is bound to experience an occupational burnout at some point.

Unfortunately, while companies are always looking to boost sales and increase their bottom lines, they usually overlook the relationship between employee engagement and sales numbers. As a result, only 20% of employees are actually content with their current jobs and 79% are happy to move on because they don’t feel appreciated or valued by their managers, resulting in a lack of employee recognition.

So, how exactly do you prevent your salespeople from getting stuck in a rut?
Motivating your employees requires constant positive reinforcement and sales incentives, whether it’s in the form of cash, gift cards, latest gadgets, or other physical rewards.

By implementing an incentive program at your workplace with team incentive ideas, you can dramatically increase your team’s success rate in accomplishing their goals, and increase employee appreciation.

Let’s take a look at a few sales incentive ideas that you can use to help your reps close more deals and meet their quota:

Individual SPIFs

Some salespeople have an innate drive to perform, while others need more guidance, motivation, and incentive to meet their targets. Given the individual differences, it’s important to treat your sales team as a portfolio of investments that requires varying levels of attention.

Implement a Sales Performance Incentive Fund (SPIF) for individual team members, so everyone can choose their own goals and an immediate reward for achieving each.

For example, a salesperson can increase their monthly call volume by 5% in exchange for an extravagant meal at their preferred fine-dining restaurant. As a result of the employee incentive and goal satisfaction from a sales rep, they’re highly incentivized to work towards the goal while keeping tabs on their progress.

With personal SPIFs, you’re rewarding not just top performers, but also the other indispensable team members—the ones who cover for their colleagues or put in the occasional overtime. With an equitable distribution of incentives, you can improve organizational performance because everyone is keen to observe and emulate the success of their team members.

Professional development opportunities for employee recognition

According to the American Psychological Association, only 44% of employees are satisfied with the growth and learning opportunities provided by their companies:

So, incentives that accelerate professional development are more beneficial for your salespeople in the long-term. After all, a gift card is a one-time prize that they’d soon forget about, but an investment in professional growth is a win-win for both your company and the salesperson.

Instead of cash or a gift card, some companies arrange for their top performers to attend executive dinners or senior management meetings as team incentive ideas.

Alternatively, for an employee incentive idea, you can:

  • Send them to big conferences like SaaStr or OutBound, where they can network with the industry pioneers and thought leaders they admire.
But first, share these conference networking tips with them.
  • Sign them up for an online course or an advanced sales certification course that improves their learning curve and advances their careers.
  • Partner them with a “mentor” figure in the company for a day to address skill gaps, and discuss improvement methods.
  • Hook them up with a premium subscription of a tool/software that helps them become a better salesperson and employee.
  • Take the traditional route and give them a book-set by their favorite growth-hacking expert.

With professional development opportunities, your team will be even more equipped to navigate workplace challenges and deliver beyond their sales quota. Now that's long-term vision.

Personal development opportunities

Happy employees are 31% more productive and secure 37% more deals than their peers who’re unsatisfied with their personal lives.

No matter how fast-paced your business is, employees are more than the work they put in at the office. Everyone has hidden passions they’d like to pursue and hobbies they want to devote more time to.

Tapping into the mutual interests of your salespeople and rewarding them with team-building activities, as part of an incentive plan, can sometimes be better than bar-hopping after work.

Here are some ideas:

  • For the health-conscious members, you can offer a one-month Crossfit or a yoga studio membership.
  • Send them tickets to a theatre or a ballet performance, as an employee incentive idea. If you’d rather opt for something more conventional, go for movies, marathons, stand-up comedy gigs, or an indie band they’d enjoy.
Creative gifts for your team are literally everywhere online—Odeon's just one example.
  • Arrange for a local baker or photographer to hold a one-day workshop as an employee incentive. If you want to be creative (and a little ridiculous!), sign up your top performers for a class on woodworking, archaeology, miniature painting, or wine tasting!
  • Sign them up for a monthly subscription box for an incentive idea. You have so many options to choose from—grooming products, books, Japanese candies, stationery, coffee, dog goodies, gourmet treats, or socks!
  • Offer them a family staycation at a nearby tourist spot for the weekend. You can even ask them to pick a spot and you can cover the lodging (as your budget allows).
  • Give them vouchers for a relaxing day at the spa, so your employees can come into work recharged and ready to sell.

With incentives that cater to a salesperson’s personal interests, you’re telling them that what they do outside of work is equally important to you as what they do at work. You’re not just the person who crunches numbers every week anymore, but a leader who always has a great incentive idea and who cares about what excites their team.

Workplace incentives

Many salespeople prefer workplace incentives that make their job easier, as opposed to a monetary bonus or other tangible rewards.

Choosing sales incentives that positively impact your team’s daily work responsibilities are a great way to value your employees and acknowledge the efforts of your top performers. After all, when you’re setting ambitious goals, you should match them with comparative rewards.

Want to convert more hot leads into paying customers? Offer an extra day off to the first three reps who close 10 deals in a week.

Depending on your company policies, here are a few other ways to incentivize salespeople:

  • Option to telecommute once a month. With remote workers, you not only save money on office space and utilities, but also ensure that your salespeople are less stressed and more productive.
  • An exclusive parking spot that’s assigned to them for a week. Since other employees will walk by it every day, it will also motivate them to kick their sales up a notch.
  • Double lunchtime for a day. 56% of the employees take less than 30 minutes for lunch because they’re worried about upsetting their managers. By encouraging longer lunch breaks, you’re contributing directly towards employee creativity and mental health.
  • Arrange for dogs to come to the office for supervised playtime with the team. You can also make this into a ‘bring your pet to work’ day. Dogs allow your employees to interact in a positive setting, and are especially useful for providing support during a difficult sales sprint.
  • Offer them one-time napping privileges. When your top performers are burning the midnight lamp to close deals, reward them with a sleep break at work. In fact, a recent study found that when employees nap for an hour during the day, they have more professional composure and complete the tasks assigned to them at a much faster rate than their sleep-deprived co-workers. And who doesn’t want to prevent sales burnout?
  • Give extra PTO hours that your employees can save up for a full or half day.

Considering that your salespeople will be spending most of their day at the office, workplace incentives gives them an opportunity to unwind between juggling meetings and presenting demos.

Sales incentives keep your employees happy, loyal, engaged and motivated.

Ninety percent of business leaders are aware of the advantages of an employee engagement strategy, but only 25% of them actually are actively working towards implementing it.

When properly structured and executed, sales incentive programs boost employee retention, productivity, performance—and ultimately, the number of sales. As long as you set realistic goals, deliver on your promises, measure results against the cost of investment, and ask for feedback, you’ll have a higher chance of success while rewarding your salespeople.

Remember, you don’t necessarily need to burn a hole in your pocket to set up a sales incentive plan that works—there are many cost-effective ideas to choose from to enhance employee appreciation.

What sales incentives will you be investing in for your employees?

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