Keeping your sales team motivated is key to achieving your revenue goals. Though commission-based compensation goes a long way, if you want your reps to consistently exceed their quotas, you need to provide a variety of other incentives that motivate them to go the extra mile.
Researchers found that, regardless of the rewards at stake, sales incentive programs must be two criteria to be effective:
- They are long-term and reward employees regularly. Studies show that incentive programs that last a year or longer improve performance by an average of 44% compared to 20% for programs that last less than a week.
- They are based on quotas instead of contests. The issue with competitions is that they are only motivating for your top performers. Everyone else knows that their chances of winning are slim, so they don’t put in any extra effort. Quotas, on the other hand, give everyone an equal opportunity to get the incentive.
For maximum impact, you need to provide a variety of non-monetary SPIFs that appeal to your team’s interests, desire for work-life balance, and professional goals. Here are 9 types of sales incentives that will keep your team passionate about exceeding their goals.
1) Give Your Reps Extra Flextime and PTO When They’ve Reached Quota
Research shows that 96% of employees need work flexibility to accommodate their family, wellness, and other personal needs, yet only 42% have it.
One of the easiest ways to incentivize your sales team to close deals faster is giving them flextime and extra PTO for consistently reaching their goals.
There are two ways your reps can use this incentive:
- They can work flexible hours as long as they are consistently reaching their quotas. This is a hugely motivating SPIF for parents and others with responsibilities outside of work.
- Once they exceed their monthly and quarterly quotas, they don’t have to work until the next quota period starts. This will incentivize people who enjoy seasonal outdoor activities and other time-consuming hobbies.
If your employees are hitting their quotas with high quality deals, let them manage their schedule with no questions asked. The freedom to design their schedule will incentivize them to remain a top performer.
However, if their performance does drop, reintroduce standard work hours. It will motivate them to get back on track and regain the flexibility to accommodate personal activities.
2) Host Celebration Dinners with Your Team
One of the risks of having a robust sales incentive program is you may create a culture where every rep focuses on achieving their individual goals, and they refuse to support their colleagues. To prevent this, you need to base some incentives on team performance.
One of the easiest team-based SPIFs is celebration dinners. Every time your team exceeds their monthly quota, take them out for a fancy dinner to celebrate. Not only does this show you appreciate their hard work, but it also allows them to bond outside of hectic work hours.
3) Reward Them with Event Tickets
Offer tickets to games, concerts, plays, and other events during months when hitting quota is especially challenging due to seasonality and other factors that affect buyer intent. This kind of short-term incentive helps keep your sales team motivated and allows them to do something fun after a month of working long hours.
To maximize the influence of this SPIF, poll your team to find out what kinds of events they’re interested in. This helps you secure tickets to events that they look forward to attending.
4) Donate a Percentage of Their Sales to Charity
Surveys show that 71% of employees want their companies to provide opportunities for them to use their roles to make a positive impact. Though most sales roles aren’t inherently philanthropic, you can help your team raise money for their favorite charities by donating 1% of total sales to the charity of their choice.
Unlike other SPIFs that offer a fun reward, this one encourages your team to go above and beyond since the harder they work, the greater the impact they’ll have. At the end of the sales period, they’ll feel a great sense of pride at the money they raised for their charity.
This sales incentive is exceptionally motivating during the holiday months and after natural disasters since that’s when your team is most likely to be looking for ways to give back.
5) Assign Highly Coveted Mentorship Opportunities
If you’re leading a team of junior reps, some of the best sales incentives you can offer are career advancement opportunities. Any ambitious rep knows that being mentored by a senior sales executive is one of the most impactful ways to learn how to be an effective salesperson.
Rather than hope mentorships form organically, set a challenging but achievable goal, and assign senior sales executives to mentor anyone who reaches it. To make the opportunity highly desirable, give it structure.
Knowing that they’ll get to meet with their mentor at a specific frequency and shadow some key meetings makes the program far more motivating than if reps find a mentor with no expectations about what the relationship is going to look like.
6) Give Them a Virtual Sales Assistant
One of the most frustrating parts of the job for top producers is having to waste time on tedious activities, including:
- Prospect research
- Updating their CRM & other systems
- Reaching out & following up with cold prospects
- Researching leads
To help your top sales executives spend more time on revenue-generating activities and incentivize them to remain with your company, give them a virtual sales assistant.
Virtual sales assistants can tackle all of those tedious tasks and more to allow your top-producing executives to focus on developing stronger relationships with prospects. Not only does this increase revenue, but it also encourages higher loyalty since it’s an incentive, they likely won’t get anywhere else.
To use this SPIF as a motivator, offer to any salesperson who earns a certain amount of revenue. Providing sales support based on performance instead of seniority encourages ambitious reps at all levels of your organization to strive to gain an assistant.
Interested in offering sales support but don't want to deal with freelancers? Discover if our managed, virtual assistant is right for you.
7) Offer Overachievement Commissions, Instead of Caps
Many organizations cap commissions to control the cost of their sales teams; however, all it does is irritate your top performers, so they don’t reach their full potential. Research has found that when organizations limit commissions, salespeople always sell less than the maximum, even if they can sell more. After all, why should they continue working if they’re no longer getting paid?
On the flip side, additional studies have found that revenue increases by an average of 17% when companies offer an overachievement commission rate that rewards reps for exceeding their quotas.
If your commission rate is an appropriate percentage of revenue, you’ll always get an ROI by letting your salespeople reach their full potential.
8) Provide Meaningful Recognition
Sales is an emotionally draining field. Reps are constantly ignored, rejected, and mistrusted by the prospects they’re selling to while facing ever-increasing pressure to close more deals. Through all this, they have to remain positive and optimistic so that they can give an authentic pitch.
Given the difficulties of the job, one of the easiest ways to keep your reps motivated is to provide meaningful recognition.
To do so, start by asking each of your direct reports if they prefer public or private recognition. Knowing this is key for you to provide positive feedback that your team appreciates. Then, whenever someone goes above and beyond, reaches a milestone, or sets a new record, praise them via the medium they enjoy most. Share why they’re doing an impressive job and don’t hold back; they’ve worked hard and deserve to know that you appreciate their effort.
9) Offer Professional Development Opportunities
Professional development opportunities are an effective SPIF to encourage your team to continuously upgrade their skillset and show that you’re committed to their long-term success.
There are three general types of professional development opportunities you can offer:
- A stipend for your sales team to attend seminars and classes of their choice.
- Access to an online learning platform such as LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, and Skillsoft.
- In-house training programs.
Which option you choose depends on your goals:
- If you’re offering professional development opportunities purely as a sales incentive, option one is great since it lets your team pursue the classes that interest them most.
- If you want your team to have the flexibility to explore various topics that interest them, but you also want to track their results, purchase licenses for a learning platform.
- If you want your team to acquire a particular set of skills that will prepare them to advance in your organization, creating an in-house training program is your best option.
Depending on the size of your sales team, you may even use a combination of options to properly incentivize employees at different seniority levels.
About the Author: Emily formerly led Prialto's content production and distribution team with a special passion for helping people realize success. Her work and collaborations have appeared in Entrepreneur, Inc. and the Observer among others.