Working in sales can be a demanding role and it's important to have ways that help motivate you and get you engaged in your job. That's why many sales managers and team leaders create sales incentive plans for their employees working in this fast-paced role. No matter the type of sales—like retail products, car sales or service memberships—incentives and reward systems for acknowledging when employees meet and exceed expectations are highly advantageous in the workplace. In this article, we discuss what a sales incentive is, several advantages to using incentive programs and 30 ideas that you can use to brainstorm the perfect sales incentive for your team.
What is a sales incentive?
A sales incentive is a reward that employers offer to their sales professionals for successfully selling a specific amount of products or service hours. Sales incentives can be monetary, or they can be physical rewards, experience-based rewards or another type of incentive geared toward employee interests and motivations. Sales incentives differ from sales compensation because compensation usually comes as a commission, which is typical for sales professionals to earn on top of their regular salary. Sales incentives instead are rewards meant to provide recognition for exceeding expectations, meeting objectives and adding to the overall success of an organization.
When do businesses use sales incentives?
Generally speaking, many companies integrate sales incentives as regular reward programs when sales professionals meet specific sales objectives (such as selling a certain number of products or meeting a certain amount in sales revenue). Additionally, businesses will use sales incentive plans to motivate and engage employees, resulting in higher productivity and effort to successfully meet their objectives.
30 sales incentive ideas
Aside from monetary compensation, there are a variety of different offerings you can include in a sales incentive plan. From team outings to personal days off, consider the following examples of great sales incentive ideas:
An outdoor activity or special entertainment event can be a great incentive. The following ideas provide ways for your team to get outside and engage in something they enjoy:
- Tickets to festivals or concerts
- Tickets to theme parks
- Tickets for a sporting event
- Outdoor excursions, such as a boating trip or a camping trip
- Outing to a museum or art gallery
- Outing to a comedy club
Physical rewards are another excellent incentive, especially if the reward is something that your team can use every day. Consider items that improve their workflow or personal items that they can enjoy at home:
- Technology gadgets like earbuds, tablets, watches or other tech accessories
- Coffee makers or small appliances
- Noise-canceling headphones
- Office equipment like standing desks or new monitors
Professional development and continuous learning are equally important motivators. For instance, offering your team the chance to participate in a course or development seminar gives them the opportunity to develop new skills and work together to improve sales outcomes for the company and themselves. The following ideas are great incentive perks to consider in a sales incentive plan:
- Professional development training
- Free online courses
- Classes for a team hobby or interest
- Gym or fitness discounts
- Public speaking seminars
- Language classes
- Sales development courses
Monetary rewards are still an effective sales incentive. A great way to incorporate monetary rewards is to provide an equal reward for the whole team, that way all team members receive recognition. Here are a few monetary incentive ideas:
- Gift cards
- Bonus checks
- Cash rewards
Exploration and experience are excellent sales incentive ideas because they provide employees the opportunity to create memories and enjoy meaningful activities. Consider ideas like:
- Extra days off of work
- Discounted airfare for vacation
- Team retreat or spa day
- Hotel expense for a weekend getaway
Food and beverage ideas
Food and beverage ideas are also effective incentives. Think about rewards that get your team excited about going out to dinner, receiving a subscription box in the mail or attending a team food or drink event. Here are several incentives that use food and beverage ideas:
- Restaurant gift cards
- One-month subscription to meal and snack deliveries
- Food gift baskets
- Wine tasting events
- Team night out
- Beverage club membership
Related: 10 Sales Team Motivation Tips
Advantages of using sales incentives
There are several key advantages of implementing a sales incentive plan, including:
Increased team productivity
A reward system for continuously meeting or exceeding team sales goals or expectations can be highly effective for increasing productivity. As sales teams work towards these goals, they'll also develop new and valuable skills. With sales incentives in place for your team, they'll have the opportunity to collaborate while improving how they perform in their jobs.
Higher levels of engagement
Motivating employees through incentives can also increase your team's engagement to their work. For instance, setting team objectives that result in recognition and rewards for the entire sales team can boost engagement within collaboration, strategizing and implementing sales techniques.
Higher job satisfaction
Incentives that recognize team effort and success will naturally lead to your team's overall satisfaction with their jobs. This job satisfaction also leads to greater productivity and performance because employees will value their work as they know their managers recognize their contributions.
Boost in team collaboration
Increases in your team's productivity, performance and development in sales can lead to an overall improvement in the way your team works together. Providing incentives for the entire team rather than implementing a single reward for an individual leads to an improvement-based effort within the team. They'll be more likely to recognize each other's contributions, find creative ways to solve problems and implement creative strategies that ultimately support the achievement of company sales goals.
Increased team morale
When teams improve their collaboration efforts, increase their productivity and feel recognized for their work, they'll be more likely to have an upbeat and positive attitude in the workplace. This boost in team morale is highly crucial for completing meaningful work, meeting objectives and adding value to the entire organization. Satisfied and content employees are also more likely to be highly supportive of their teammates in reaching objectives rather than focusing solely on their individual needs.
Related: 7 Ways To Improve Team Morale
Tips for a successful sales incentive plan
When integrating a sales incentive program, it's important to develop a rewards system that is meaningful to the team as a whole, each individual on the team and to the organization's bottom line. Consider the following tips for an effective and successful sales incentive plan:
Find out what motivates the team
Figure out what motivates everybody on the team. For instance, create a simple survey to find out what the majority of your team members enjoy, what they're interested in and what motivates them. Find similar interests and motivators that your team has in common, and then discuss these ideas with your team. You'll likely receive valuable feedback into what your team would like to see as an incentive, and this is important because it will set you up for providing something truly meaningful as recognition for your team's accomplishments.
Set achievable team goals
Ensure the objectives you set for your sales team are reasonable. You can use individual objectives to create an overall average for the entire team. As an example, think of a car sales team. An individual objective could include each team member's sales amount with a team objective that takes the average of these individual amounts. In this case, the team is working toward a collective goal while further improving their individual skills that support the achievement of these goals.
Determine the metrics of the plan
Set measurable criteria that tell you when your team meets objectives. For instance, this can be a daily amount in sales, a weekly quota of products sold or another metric that you can easily measure to evaluate achievement and performance. Additionally, the metrics you implement should be fairly simple and not overly complex so you can easily and quickly measure performance and progress.
Combine monetary and non-monetary incentives
It's also important to alternate between incentive ideas, especially with teams who have diverse interests and motivators. Try a different incentive each month or quarter so your team has a way to enjoy a range of incentives. For example, you can offer a team cash bonus for the first quarter, a weekend getaway for the second quarter, tickets to a sporting event during the third quarter and another monetary reward in the fourth quarter. Switching it up between rewards is an excellent way to keep your team excited and engaged in their work.