Non-monetary Incentives to Motivate Your Sales Team

Feb 11, 2020
Author: Sujan Patel

A company’s most valuable asset is its people. It’s something we all inherently know, but we pay lip service to it more than we actually take action on it. According to a study from the Work Institute, a whopping 41.4 million US employees left their jobs voluntarily in 2018. That’s an 8.3% bump up since 2017, and a staggering 88% increase since 2010. That same study goes on to claim that as this trend continues, it’ll result in a 35% turnover rate by 2023.

In the current information age, people have more options than ever. Your human resources are more valuable – and more costly to replace – than ever before. Hiring costs, onboarding and training, continual learning and development, and the cost of time with unfilled roles can add up fast. And those are the tangibles. It’s difficult to capture every expense or factor in intangible costs like employee morale. 

One of the best ways to stay ahead of the turnover trends stirring worldwide is to offer incentives to your team – and these incentives don’t always have to be a higher commission. Here are some ideas for non-monetary incentives you can provide to your sales team to keep them motivated and engaged.

Food and Refreshments

Who doesn’t love and appreciate free food and drink? As a society, we’re obsessed with food. All our social gatherings revolve around it – think family dinners, BBQs, and Sunday brunches. Even when we’re not consuming it, we’re thinking about it. 

A recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 32% of companies provided free snacks and beverages in 2018, which is up from 20% in 2014. With free food trending across offices, it’s a no-brainer to keep up with the times and treat your sales staff from time to time. Free food can easily be taken for granted, so try to tie it to some sort of celebration or accomplishment. 

For example, create a Champion’s Dinner for the exceptional sales reps that hit their quarterly numbers. Make it a fine dining experience that wows them and incentivizes them to keep hitting their numbers. If your budget is tighter, consider a lunch with the CEO as a prize for the highest producing sales rep each quarter. Whatever you do, make it worthwhile and exciting to invoke the competitive nature of your sales staff.

Travel, Party, or Playtime Incentives

According to a recent survey, nearly half of HR leaders say employee burnout is responsible for up to 50% of their annual workforce turnover. That’s a figure you shouldn’t take lightly and one that’s totally solvable. You can start today by offering extra days off around the holidays for those that hit their quota. Or a PTO day off the books if they hit their numbers this month.

Work-life balance should be highly encouraged, and so should taking vacations and making time to have fun. Invite them to take a break and get their creative juices flowing by offering some fun amenities in the office like ping-pong tables, basketball hoops, and pool tables. 

Consider hosting an annual sales trip for the top-performing sales reps while you’re at it – all-expenses-paid travel is a great way to motivate employees, especially when it’s exclusive.  Hit the slopes in Whistler or soak up the sun in Turks and Caicos. Find something that fits your budget and, again, make it exceptional. It should be something they look forward to and fight to make a reality each year.

Awards and Shoutouts

Free stuff is a consistent crowd-pleaser. It’s simple, effective, and something everyone can rally behind. Starting a sales contest is as easy as setting a goal and coming up with some valuable prizes people can get for hitting the goals you set. 

You can go as simple as gift cards (many stores offer bulk gift card discounts) and household items like high-end coffee makers. Or you could go the high-tech route with smartwatches, tablets, or wireless speaker systems. Experiences also make great prizes, such as tickets to concerts, sporting events, festivals, or even movie tickets. Take it to another level by providing recurring memberships to local gyms, wine clubs, or spas. It’s not uncommon for top sales reps to even get preferred parking. Get creative here.

If you’re looking for something less flashy, public praise is another great option. A mass email from you or an executive praising them to the department (or the entire company) can be a moment they never forget. Sometimes even a quick Slack message from the CEO or department director recognizing their contribution can make somebody’s day.

Flexibility and Opportunities

For some people, it’s not about gadgets, trips, or public praise. It’s about respect, greater flexibility, and autonomy. It’s about finding even more opportunities to excel at their job. 

Consider letting your team members set their own hours if they hit their sales goals. A reward like that costs you nothing but goes a long way in bolstering an employee’s satisfaction and loyalty. As long as they hit their numbers, it shouldn’t matter if they’re in the office during specific hours. You could take it a step further and even let them work remotely on certain days.

If letting people set their own hours or work remotely isn’t an option, consider implementing this idea on a smaller scale, such as rewarding people with a half-day on Friday. For some people, cutting out early while their peers are stuck dialing and emailing is the ultimate motivation.

Lastly, some people are motivated solely by advancement opportunities. Your company likely has new initiates for the upcoming year or decade. Bring those top performers into the fold and get them involved by letting them drive projects, run meetings, or give company presentations. Get them the exposure and recognition they crave. It’s a win-win for everyone. 

You can also offer professional development opportunities for your top performers. The best-performing sales organizations are twice as likely to provide ongoing training as low-performing ones. Get them tickets to growth conferences, advanced selling seminars, or weekend workshops where they can level up their skills.

In today’s climate, companies have to be more strategic regarding employee retention. Employees are simply humans who happen to be at work – and those humans have needs, desires, and most importantly, options

Create a rewarding culture. One that enables growth and recognizes your employee’s impact. Motivating your sales team with non-monetary incentives like travel perks, prizes, or leadership opportunities is one such way. In the end, you have to keep innovating to stay ahead of the market trends and solidify your company’s long-term investment in its people.

How else are you motivating your sales staff in a non-monetary way? 

Sujan Patel is a partner at Ramp Ventures & co-founder Mailshake. He has over 15 years of marketing experience and has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, Intuit and many other Fortune 500 caliber companies.