Creating a compelling incentive program to motivate your sales team is a great way to boost performance and drive both short and long-term growth—especially in today's competitive economy.

The sales landscape is always changing and always competitive. To keep up, smart companies today are building diverse sales incentive strategies. That's because a well-executed sales incentive plan can skyrocket morale and dramatically accelerate business growth

Just as important, a strong culture that rewards its employee for their good work can also cultivate a thriving work environment. For your sales team, that can mean more motivated sellers and lot less turnover. 

So while strategies are continuing to evolve, the core emphasis remains the same: improving growth and retention by improving employee motivation and morale. 

The following 4 incentive program best practices can help companies of all sizes and budgets to create a motivated sales team that's eager to exceed their targets. 

1. Understand what drives your sales team

A successful incentive program starts with understanding what motivates your salespeople. Monetary bonuses and digital rewards are often the go-to, but non-cash rewards can be powerful, too. It's tailoring incentives to individual preferences that will lead to higher engagement and performance.

Structure any monetary rewards in a way that reflects both individual achievement and teamwork. For example, you might consider implementing tiered commission structures or bonuses tied to specific milestones. 

This way, sales professionals are rewarded incrementally, encouraging consistent effort throughout the year.

Examples of monetary incentives for sales teams include:

  • Tiered commission structures: Create levels of target achievements with escalating commissions.
  • Bonuses for new client acquisition: Give bonuses for breaking into new markets or securing new clientele.
  • Profit sharing: Implement a system where sales professionals receive a percentage of the profits from the clients or deals they manage.

Also keep in mind that experiences and personalized rewards can resonate more deeply with employees than monetary benefits. Examples of non-cash incentives include:

  • All-inclusive retreats: Reward top performers with a trip to celebrate their achievements, or a travel gift card to Air BNB so they can choose where to relax themselves. 
  • Personal development funds: Allocate a budget for courses or conferences that align with employees' career paths.
  • Charity funds: Give your employees funds that they can in turn give to their favourite community organizations. 
  • Tech upgrades: Supply the latest gadgets or software subscriptions that enhance quality of life and work efficiency, or consider gift cards to brands like Apple or Google Play.

Similarly, you might consider incentives that offer additional time off that sales professionals can earn beyond their regular leave to drive a work-life balance. 

To assist a team in commemorating the achievement of reaching their target successfully, offer valuable team-building time off too -- without the boss! Drive this program with incentives that offer flexibility, like a virtual prepaid Visa

Many companies will also offer a day off to employees on their special days (like birthday and work anniversaries) to show appreciation for their hard work and dedication, and drive these days with surprise gift card rewards!

2. Foster team collaboration

Never underestimate the power of team collaboration. Encourage camaraderie and collective success with incentives that promote teamwork.

For example, you might promote a team-oriented atmosphere by setting group targets. When the team meets these goals, reward them with group incentives or team-wide recognition.

Some examples of group incentives include:

  • Team experiences: An exclusive team event for meeting a certain target can be a great motivator.
  • Recognition programs: Recognizing the team publicly at company meetings or through internal communications can foster unity and pride.
  • Team dinners: A simple yet effective way to encourage team bonding and celebrate achievements is through a group dinner. Or have a Zoom lunch, providing digital gift cards to food delivery apps like Grubhub or DoorDash. This is an especially great option for distributed teams.  

You might also want to consider setting up peer recognition systems, where sales professionals can publicly applaud each other. Recognizing achievements in the presence of peers fosters a culture of appreciation and respect within the team. Employees feel valued when their peers recognize their hard work and success, leading to increased motivation and job satisfaction.

Giftbit Employee Rewards

Creating friendly competition between team members through challenges can also be a fun and effective way to incentivize sales professionals. Challenges could include reaching certain targets, coming up with innovative ideas, or even participating in team-building activities. The winners of these challenges can then be rewarded with incentives such as gift cards, extra time off, or other forms of recognition.

Team members receive sales incentives for achieving sales goals.

3. Customize incentives to individual needs

Not all sales professionals are motivated by the same rewards, and it's hard to keep track of what each member likes. Offering a choice of incentives caters to different tastes and ensures everyone finds value in working toward their goals.

So empower sales team members by letting them choose their own incentive from a full catalog of options.  Consider partnering with a rewards and incentive platform that offers a diverse range of gift card options, so you can give your employee complete choice. 

What is a full catalog of options?

  • A full catalog of options refers to a wide range of rewards that cater to different preferences and interests, even when you don't know all of them. 
  • This can include gift cards for popular retailers or experiences, such as travel or dining, home and lifestyle, wellness and entertainment, and more.
Hint: Pick a rewards partner that offers premium brands your sales team wants. See our Most Redeemed Gift Cards to learn more.

What are the benefits of offering choice as a reward?

  • Increased motivation and engagement: When individuals can choose their reward, they have a personal stake in the outcome, so they'll feel more motivated and engaged. This can lead to higher levels of productivity and improved performance.
  • Better retention rates: By offering a variety of incentives, you are showing your sales team that you value their individual needs and interests. This can lead to higher retention rates as employees are more likely to stay with a company that prioritizes their happiness and well-being.
  • Healthy competition: With different rewards on offer, team members may compete in a positive way to earn the reward they desire. This can create a healthy competitive atmosphere and drive sales results.
  • Increased satisfaction: By giving individuals the freedom to choose their reward, they are more likely to be satisfied with the outcome and feel appreciated for their hard work. This can lead to a positive company culture and improved overall satisfaction among employees.
  • Customizable incentives: With a full catalog of options, you have the flexibility to customize rewards based on performance or individual preferences. This allows you to tailor incentives to meet the specific needs of your sales team, leading to better results.
  • Attracts top talent: Offering a variety of rewards can be attractive to potential employees as it shows that your company values and invests in its employees. This can give you an edge when competing for top talent in the job market.

Customized rewards for top performers

In addition to offering choice, consider customizing incentives for your top performers. This not only shows appreciation for their hard work but also motivates them to continue excelling and setting an example for the rest of the team.

  • Personalized experiences and gift cards: One way to customize rewards is by offering personalization in your delivery of gift cards that cater to the individual's interests or hobbies. This shows that you value their unique contributions and motivate them to keep performing at a high level.
  • BONUS IDEA! Choose your reward days: Give employees a day off to engage in an activity or hobby of their choice upon meeting targets, and use a gift card to help them succeed with personal goals outside the office!

4. Keep incentives fresh and engaging

When developing employee rewards programs, always stay on top of industry trends and ask your employees for feedback. What worked one year (or even last month) might not be as effective the next. Regularly update and communicate the incentives available to your team, and solicit feedback to ensure they remain engaged.

  • Continuous improvement through feedback: Effective employee satisfaction surveys or one-on-one meetings with employees can provide valuable insight into what incentives are most effective and how they can be improved. Take this feedback into consideration for future incentive programs.
  • Stay up-to-date on industry trends: Keep an eye on current trends in employee incentives and adjust your program accordingly. This can help keep your incentives fresh and relevant to employees' interests.
  • Be creative: Don't be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to incentives. Consider unique experiences or opportunities that align with your company's values and culture, rather than just offering traditional monetary rewards.
  • Don’t forget! Philanthropic matches: Sales professionals with a philanthropic streak will appreciate incentives that include matching their charitable donations. This not only motivates them but also enhances your company’s image as a socially responsible entity.

Motivate, engage, and drive sales

Incentives are the fuel that drives sales teams towards bigger and better achievements. By understanding what motivates your team, both on a personal level and as a group, you can design an incentive program that inspires and engages. Monetary rewards have their place, but remember the lasting impact of experiences, recognition, and development opportunities.

Need help optimizing your sales incentive program? Chat with Sales to see how easy it can be to amplify incentives with the right digital rewards.