Non-cash sales incentives guaranteed to motivate your team

Back to blog 25 August 2017

If you were to examine the different sales incentives that drive members of your sales team, you’d likely come up with a wide variety of different approaches. From bonuses and rewards through to pay rises, there are plenty of cash-based motivators that can be used to bring out the best in your sales team. But what about non-cash sales incentives?

We know that sales people are motivated by factors beyond the financial. For instance, our BMS Sales Index found that the number one reason sales people leave their jobs is a lack of career progression – as opposed to a lack of money. Studies show that workers feel more motivated to do their best work when incentives are offered, but it’s up to you what those incentives are.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of non-cash incentives that are easy to implement and can help encourage your team to deliver results.

Paid time off

Whether it’s getting an extra-long lunch break or finishing early on a Friday, all team members value the opportunity to enjoy some paid time off. Offering your sales people the chance to take a break on the company can pay off when it comes to boosting productivity. One study, called Project: Time Off, reveals that a whopping 77% of HR managers believe that employees who take most or all of their allocated holiday days are more productive in the workplace than those who neglect to take paid time off. A similar number of HR managers believe those who use their annual leave entitlements are also higher performers and have increased job satisfaction.

Allowing your sales people to take paid time off can also enhance their work-life balance, something that is becoming increasingly important for the modern employee. Millennials, in particular, are demanding a better work-life balance from their employers, with a 2016 Deloitte study finding this the single most important factor (excluding salary) when evaluating job opportunities. Give your team the chance to start late or finish early if they have appointments, take a long lunch break from time to time and enjoy an afternoon off when they’ve hit target. As long as your team members maintain their work levels and remain productive, such flexibility can help to boost your retention levels and show your staff you care.

Career experience

We know career training, development and progression is important to sales people, yet many organisations aren’t incentivising this enough. One 2014 Towers Watson study revealed that just 33% of those surveyed had managers who were effective at conducting career development discussions, and even fewer said their organisations monitored the effectiveness of career management programmes.

Show your commitment to your sales team’s development by offering one-on-one time with senior sales leaders, mentorship programmes or shadowing. Offer to work on presentations and calls with sales people, passing on your skills and experience to help them develop theirs. You could also offer more structured training programmes to help your sales people hone their core sales skills and develop new ones. This is a great approach to tie in with a promotion or coordinated development programme.

Reward effort as well as wins

Incentivising wins – whether it’s securing a new client, closing a major deal or meeting targets – is always going to be an effective way to motivate driven sales people. However, not every sales interaction comes with a positive outcome, so you need to incentivise sales people to keep productivity levels high regardless of the responses they’re getting.

Sales people receive a lot of negative responses on a daily basis, whether that’s people hanging up during cold calls or potential leads declining to progress the deal any further, so it’s important to build resilience in your team to handle this. Reward your team for the effort they’re making on a daily basis, as well as the success they achieve. If your team is trying hard, generating a lot of sales activity and hitting the phones every day, show your appreciation for this – even if they’re hearing ‘no’ more often than ‘yes’.

Team incentives

Individual rewards remain an effective way of recognising the efforts of your star sales people, but group and team incentives should also be used to encourage hard work. Group-based reward systems out-perform individual approaches and produce more cooperative behaviour, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Business Research, and team rewards also encourage a more collaborative and cohesive work environment.

As a sales manager, you should look to reward behaviour that advances the goals of your organisation. Encourage teamwork and a friendly work environment by offering team lunches, social activities after hours and sports leagues to help nurture collaboration. You want your team to share a collective responsibility to succeed, without running the risk of allowing under-performers to skate by on their peers’ success. Do this by recognising the individuals who are working to achieve team success, whether that’s by staying late, helping their colleagues to close a deal or simply enhancing the team environment. When teams hit target, reward them as a group, rather than focusing only on the top performer.

Implementing your incentives

Whether you opt for one or all of the above non-cash sales incentives, it’s important to remember a few key points. The first is that sales people are motivated by different things, and it’s up to you as their manager to understand these differences and offer choices that align with them. You must ensure incentives are communicated to and understood by your team in order for them to strive to achieve them, and you should always acknowledge strong performances verbally and in front of peers, regardless of the incentive on offer. Once you have achieved these points, you’re well on your way to having a more engaged and productive sales team.

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