Incentives are a fundamental part of outbound sales development. If you want your sales team to stay motivated and hit their numbers, you need a strong compensation strategy. But finding the right balance between hitting quotas and maintaining client relationships can be tricky.
Most salespeople expect compensation of some sort, but recent research suggests financial incentives may not be as effective as we once thought. If closing deals is rewarded at the expense of good behavior and customer experience, the long-term effect can be highly detrimental.
This article explores the best ways to incentivize sales team behaviors without sacrificing customer relationships or creating an overly competitive work environment. Follow these tips to reduce turnover, generate more revenue, and ensure greater employee satisfaction–without relying solely on financial compensation.
Connecting outbound sales to purpose
Most outbound sales leaders set goals for their reps and leave it at that. But if you want your sales team to feel a sense of internal motivation, you need to communicate the purpose behind those metrics. Why is it important for your team to reach that revenue goal? Help your reps see the bigger picture so they know what they’re working towards.
Take this one step further and make sure everyone on your sales team understands the company’s mission and the difference they’re making in customers’ lives. When you receive positive reviews from satisfied customers, share that feedback with the team. It’s your job to ensure your reps understand the meaning behind their work.
As this article in Forbes explains, a sense of purpose is a greater indicator of sales success than any financial or external reward–not to mention, customers can tell if a salesperson believes in what they’re selling.
Emphasize relationships over revenue
Of course, the goal in sales development is to close the deal, but hard selling can be a major turn-off for customers. If your sales compensation strategy revolves solely around the number of deals closed, that’s going to create an issue. It may even lead to a toxic work environment as reps compete over accounts.
Instead, set incentives that focus on relationship-building. Reward behaviors that clients find valuable, illicit regular feedback from past customers, and add relationship-building to your sales development playbook.
One way to do this is to combine traditional sales compensation with relationship-based rewards. For example, rewarding employees 50% upon deal close and 50% upon the customer reaching a lifetime value (LTV) milestone. Focus on the quality of relationships rather than the number of deals closed. Once you shift this perspective for your team, sales will naturally follow.
An important distinction here is the shift from number-based quotas to behavior-based goals.
Focusing on behaviors rather than outcomes ensures long-term success, rather than working your reps into the ground to reach a certain quota.
Tips for sales development leaders
As an outbound sales leader, it’s your responsibility to set an example by demonstrating the behavior you want to see in your team and creating an environment that supports them in their goals.
Consider talent optimization techniques to ensure every team member is playing to their strengths. Skills and personality assessments can also help you tailor your coaching to each individual. This attention to detail will help your team stay motivated and enable you to offer personalized rewards, like paid higher education or development training in their area of interest.
One common mistake managers make is using sales compensation tactics that pit reps against one another. This creates a high-stress environment, lower morale, and burnout–and leads to costly sales team turnover rates.
Instead, managers should aim to foster collaboration in their teams. Encourage open communication between team members and help them work through any disagreements that come up. If you’re thinking of introducing a new incentive but aren’t sure what kind of rewards your team would most appreciate, ask them. They’ll appreciate being involved in the process.
Alternatives to financial sales compensation
If traditional sales compensation is no longer effective, what’s the alternative? Considering the points above on purpose, relationships and teamwork, the best sales compensation isn’t monetary at all. Instead, try out non-financial incentives like paid time off, flex-time, and greater employee benefits.
When in doubt, simply showing appreciation can go a long way. According to a study published in the Huffington Post, 80 percent of employees say they’re more motivated when their manager shows appreciation for their work, compared to less than 40 percent who say they’re motivated by a demanding boss or out of fear of losing their job.
Keeping your sales team motivated long term
Incentives should focus on celebrating your team’s wins: call out good behavior for public recognition, encourage strong relationships both internally and with customers, and empower your sales team to reach their goals with hands-on support and guidance.
Instead of creating competition between reps, focus on team-based goals. Then when you achieve them, reward the entire team for a job well done. Over time, these simple shifts will make all the difference in motivating your sales team.
If you need help keeping your team motivated, our coaching and consulting service: Outbound Success can help your sales team find the best approach and mentality to outbound prospecting, so they continue to produce results month after month.
Throughout 2021, we had the fortune of interviewing 50+ sales development experts on the Predictable Revenue Podcast.
These pages are packed full of insightful advice, actionable tips, and thought-provoking interviews with some of the world’s foremost sales experts.