Part of your responsibility as a manager is creating sales incentives that motivate your salespeople to do their best.
Most of us rely on a combination of both internal and external motivators.
We have some innate drive pushing us forward, guiding us to achieve certain things. But we’re also motivated by the things around us – including the money we make.
So, what are the sales incentives that work best?
Table of Contents
- What Are Sales Incentives?
- Monetary Sales Incentives
- Physical Prizes & Incentives
- Intangible Rewards
- Entertainment and Experiences
- Personal Development Prizes
- Why Sales Incentives Matter
- What’s Next?
What Are Sales Incentives?
A sales incentive is any reward, prize, or possibility that motivates your salespeople to improve their performance.
It could be a basic monetary reward, like a $1,000 cash bonus, or something non-monetary, like the promise of an office-wide celebration.
What matters is that this thing motivates your salespeople.
Monetary Sales Incentives
Now, let’s get into the sales incentive ideas you can use to motivate your sales team!
The most straightforward and simple way to incentivize your salespeople is with monetary rewards.
Sure, these won’t stimulate intrinsic motivation if it’s not already there. And they can be quite expensive.
But they do a great job of motivating people because they’re useful to anyone and desired by everyone.
1. A cash bonus.
Why complicate things? Give people a cash bonus, preferably in an envelope, when they achieve a certain target. It doesn’t take much to make people feel good about their accomplishments.
2. Check bonuses.
You can also distribute checks. There’s honestly not much of a difference, though checks can make accounting a little easier.
3. A raise.
You should be offering raises to your top performing salespeople based on their achievements. The more experienced they become, and the more productive they become, the more you should pay them.
It will keep them motivated to work harder – and motivate others to do the same.
4. Gift cards.
Like the idea of cash but can’t stand the thought of how generic it is? Try gift cards. They’re as good as cash at stores, restaurants, and other places.
Physical Prizes & Incentives
Physical prizes can be more powerful motivators at times – especially when they’re used as a visual reminder of the incentive’s existence. Showcasing the item in front of the group on a regular basis can inspire salespeople on their toughest days.
These are some of the best physical prizes you can offer.
The latest iPhone, a flat screen TV, a surround sound speaker system – they’re all cool. They’re all sexy. They’re all a bit expensive, too.
But they’re amazing motivators for your top performers.
6. Small appliances.
Small appliances also work well. Who would say no to a fancy coffee maker or a toaster oven? Okay, maybe these won’t work for every target audience. But they’re reasonably affordable and practical.
A set of nice headphones is utilitarian. You can use them to block sound, listen to your favorite music, or enjoy podcasts with crisp audio while you’re doing other things.
8. Office furniture.
Your salespeople probably spend a lot of time at the office (or in their home offices), so why not liven things up with some new piece of furniture or equipment?
A standing desk or a fancy chair could be the perfect incentive to motivate a better performance from your team.
9. A vehicle.
Yeah, okay, this one’s a bit much. But it could be an amazing year-end reward for your top performer.
Or, instead of a car or a truck, you could offer a snazzy bicycle.
10. Equipment for a new hobby.
Get your salespeople started on a new hobby with a cool prize. Something like a table saw or an electric guitar!
Sales incentives don’t have to be tangible. They can come in the form of an improvement to work experience.
11. Extra days off.
Why not reward your best salespeople with some extra time off? An extra vacation day or two is plenty of motivation to do your best.
12. Flex time.
Give your best performers a reward by allowing them to customize their own schedules (at least occasionally).
13. Work from home days.
Some salespeople will certainly work harder if it means getting to work remotely more often.
14. A parking space.
Anyone who’s worked at a physical office with a bad parking situation knows the value of a dedicated space.
Consider offering a private, exclusive parking space for the “salesperson of the month” or to someone who achieves some impressive, specific goal.
15. A new office.
Hey – wouldn’t it be nice to have that bigger office down the hall? Of course it would. But you have to earn it.
16. A “choose your own reward” reward.
If you don’t feel like being creative or if you’re just stumped on what to offer your salespeople, consider letting them choose their own reward.
What do they want? Can you offer it?
Entertainment and Experiences
Another common category of sales incentives is in the realm of entertainment and experiences.
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These are some of your best options:
17. Show tickets.
Get tickets to a stage performance, a rock concert, or some other big event. If it’s impressive enough, it’s going to make people work extra hard.
18. Theme park tickets.
Similarly, you can give away tickets to a local theme park.
19. Sports tickets.
Sporting event tickets can also be powerful – especially if you provide them in bulk so your winners can take a group of people to enjoy the event (and brag about their success).
20. An office party.
Rewards don’t have to be so individualistic. You could also offer rewards for the entire team, such as an office party if they reach some collective milestone.
21. An office trip.
In line with this idea, you could take the entire office on an interesting trip – like going whitewater rafting together.
22. A camping trip.
Sponsor your top salespeople to go on a camping trip, or enjoy nature in some other way. It’s fun time off from work and a memorable experience overall.
23. Wine tasting.
Wine tasting feels fancy, engaging, and enjoyable to most – and it’s an ideal sales incentive as long as no one shows up tipsy the next day.
24. A cooking class.
Many of us love cooking. Almost all of us love eating. A cooking class is an interesting and unique experience that most of us would find rewarding.
25. Gym memberships.
Want to help your salespeople stay in better shape and improve their confidence and health at the same time?
A gym membership isn’t the sexiest sales incentive on this list, but it’s one of the most universally useful.
26. An escape room outing.
Escape rooms are known for being intellectually stimulating, sometimes thrilling team bonding experiences. And they’re not expensive, either – consider offering this engagement as a reward.
27. Subscription deliveries.
Sign your best performers up for some kind of subscription program or delivery service – like a “jelly of the month club,” but better.
Personal Development Prizes
The salespeople you have earning rewards are probably the most skilled and most motivated members of your team already.
But it never hurts to offer some extra opportunities for personal and professional development as a reward for sales performance:
28. Sales development rewards.
Give your top salesperson an opportunity to shadow someone else or have dinner with a famous sales expert. Any opportunity they have to improve their performance and career further is going to be motivating.
29. Paid training.
Similarly, you can offer paid training to some of your best team members. Even if you could argue that your lowest performers need it most…
30. Paid online courses.
Sign your best performers up for some online courses they’re interested in (assuming they actually want to take them).
31. In-person classes.
Of course, you can meet more people and get more out of the experience if it’s an in person class (for the most part).
32. Seminars and workshops.
Certain seminars and workshops could also be a reward – just be aware that some people might see these as a punishment.
33. Language or hobby classes.
You can also offer language classes or classes for other hobbies, assuming they’re interesting enough to your target audience.
Why Sales Incentives Matter
Why do sales incentives matter?
Three main reasons:
1. Direct motivation.
A sales incentive is a carrot dangling in front of your salespeople to encourage them to close more sales (or achieve some other metric for success).
If I told you to run a mile, you probably wouldn’t do it. If I told you I’d pay you $10,000 to run a mile, I bet you’d start running immediately.
People want stuff. If you give them that stuff in exchange for doing a thing, they’ll be more likely to do the thing.
It’s direct motivation to be more productive and do a better job.
2. Indirect motivation and morale.
Sales incentives also carry a kind of indirect motivation. They can make employees more engaged.
They can boost morale. They can make the office environment a bit more interesting and exciting.
They might even build bonds and a spirit of friendly competition within the team.
3. Data and a path for improvement.
Sometimes, sales incentives can also serve as a way to gather data and forge a path for improvement.
For example, let’s say you have an incentive in place to reward salespeople for achieving a certain target, like $15,000 in sales for a given period.
If only 45 percent of your salespeople earn the reward, you’ll have information that the goal or the reward isn’t as effective as it could be.
Some people need incentives to get motivated.
Another way to motivate people is to measure their metrics for the KPIs that matter. For salespeople, one such metric is email response time.
With EmailAnalytics, you can measure your team’s email response time and much more — and use the data to motivate your team to perform at the top of their game.
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Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.