11 sales incentives to motivate your whole team (even if they’re remote!)

11 sales incentives to motivate your whole team (even if they’re remote!)

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and get to work? Is it the fact that you work with a fantastic sales team? Are you excited about a new opportunity in the pipeline? Do you just really love your job? All of this could be true, but sales incentives still play an important role in keeping sales teams performing.

You could have the best job in the world and work with the most wonderful people, but there will still be times when motivation doesn’t come naturally.

This is true for both sales management roles and their reps.

How can you keep your team motivated?

Sales incentives have been proven to boost employee engagement: One study by the Incentive Research Foundation found that when an incentive program is built correctly, it can increase performance by up to 44%.

Especially during these times, motivation can be hard to find. If you’re thinking of starting a sales incentive program to boost morale on your team, you need to make sure it’s set up in a way that truly appeals to them.

So, what kind of sales incentives will keep your team motivated to keep selling, even when it's an uphill battle? How can you develop a program that motivates your whole team?

11 sales incentive ideas to motivate your whole team

Is it enough to offer pure cash rewards, or are there other sales incentives that will really light a fire under your reps? Let’s discuss 11 different sales incentive ideas that sales managers are using to motivate their reps.

1. Cold hard cash

Yes, it’s true, money talks. This is why many reward programs for sales teams revolve around a set amount of money as a bonus for hard work.

Cash works because, let’s face it, your team is at work to earn money.

To make this incentive work, you can set up a clear commission structure, or use cash bonuses to help your reps focus on a specific goal. Usually, this involves giving a set amount of money for a specific achievement: For example, reaching the quota, exceeding quota, closing a certain amount of deals, or hitting a sales activity goal. (That's one of the reasons why sales teams should embrace leaderboards.)

That said, don’t take for granted that your team prefers cash to any other kind of prize. In fact, another study by the Incentive Research Foundation found that up to 85% of people would choose a non-cash reward if they really liked the other option.

So, what other options are there for sales incentives?

2. Product prizes

Giving away physical products as a sales incentive is a fun way to motivate your sales team.

You might offer:

  • Tech gadgets, such as the latest iPhone or a smartwatch
  • Fun products for the home, like a high-end coffee maker, 4K TV, or advanced sound system
  • Hobby products, such as a high-end bicycle, rock-climbing equipment, or a musical instrument

Product prizes are a great incentive for your team (as long as it’s a product they actually want) because they’re a physical reminder of their achievements. It’s something that people might ask them about down the road, allowing them to relive the glory of winning over and over again.

To make sure this incentive is appealing to all the different members of your team, you might offer a choice between two or three different products.

3. Courses and training

Personal and professional development can be a powerful motivator for reps who are eager to improve themselves.

And this type of incentive is severely lacking: According to the American Psychological Association, only 44% of US employees are satisfied with the development opportunities they’re offered at work.

So, why not offer professional development opportunities as an incentive, such as:

  • Special sales training from a professional coach
  • Tickets to an upcoming conference or sales event
  • Sales courses to develop advanced techniques
  • Workshops, training, and guides to make better use of sales tech, such as CRM training

The opportunity for personal development may also appeal to your team. You can offer incentives like:

  • Cooking classes
  • Art classes
  • One month of a fitness class membership
  • Access to an online course website, such as MasterClass

4. Entertainment

Tickets to the big game. Front-row seats to their favorite band. A romantic dinner for two.

Entertainment incentives are good motivators because these are the things your reps would love to do but may not be willing to splurge for themselves.

Of course, during these times you may need to be a bit more creative with your entertainment options. For example, that nice dinner out could be replaced with a fancy dinner at home with food delivery services.

5. Activity-based rewards

After a month of pushing hard to reach their quota and go beyond to get the reward, wouldn’t your reps love to unwind with a day at the spa or a round of golf?

Or, if your team likes to get out and have an adventure, you could offer activity incentives such as:

  • Rock climbing
  • Sky diving
  • Bungee jumping
  • Zipline
  • Escape rooms

In this category also enter travel incentives. Research dating back to the ’70s shows that travel incentives have a much higher ROI than other non-cash rewards since they produce a high level of motivation.

But again, with current world conditions, normal activity-based sales incentives may need to be adapted.

For example, Airbnb now offers many online experiences, such as cocktail making at home, magic shows, cooking classes, scavenger hunts, online escape rooms, dance classes, private concerts, and more. Why not search for online experiences that you can gift to your reps?

6. Subscription boxes

Subscription boxes are all the rage now, with personalized products being delivered to your home to enjoy. This is an excellent choice for sales teams that are currently remote during the crisis, allowing you to give your reps the things they love while maintaining a safe distance.

Pro Tip: Need advice on how to lead your sales team through this crisis? Download our free resource, Leading Sales Teams Through Crisis, and get real advice from 30+ sales and SaaS leaders.

Some of the most popular subscription box offerings include:

  • Birchbox: Skincare and beauty products
  • TryTheWorld: Gourmet foods from around the world
  • Frank and Oak: Eco-friendly clothing and style box for men and women
  • Barkbox: A box full of treats for man’s best friend
  • MistoBox: Personalized boxes of coffee from top roasters
  • Dollar Shave Club: Curated grooming products for men and women
  • KiwiCo: Boxes with hands-on crafts and activities for children and teens
  • Winc: A wine club subscription with wines personalized to your likes

7. Extra PTO

They say time is money, and if that’s true for your reps then you should probably consider extra paid time off as an incentive.

After all, your reps are working hard to reach their goals and hit the metrics necessary to win the incentive. So, why not reward them with some time away from work?

Rewarding your sales reps with time also encourages a better work-life balance within your team. It’s a way to remind them that there are more important things to life than working, and the reward for working hard is being able to spend time with their families.

8. Recognition in the company

Although most workers are satisfied with their jobs overall, a study from the American Psychological Association found that a whopping 44% of workers are not satisfied with the recognition they receive from their employer.

Another study found that up to 50% of workers who received an incentive at work are more focused on how the reward is presented to them than on the reward itself.

So, recognition in itself can be a powerful motivator. (Thus the very popular ‘employee of the month’ reward system.)

That said, how can you use recognition as a sales incentive (without hanging your rep’s picture on the wall)?

For example, why not implement recognition into your incentive program with offerings such as:

  • A lunch with the CEO of the company
  • Specific praise in the company Slack channel
  • A Cameo video from their favorite celebrity that’s shared with the team

9. Office upgrades

If you want your reps to be more productive at work, why not offer upgrades to their office as an incentive?

This is another option that’s great for remote sales teams since each person has to set up their own office at home and may not be as willing to drop a lot of cash on expensive home office upgrades.

For your remote sales team, office upgrade incentives could include:

  • Standing desk
  • High-quality office chair
  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Dual-monitor system
  • Lighting or other office accessories and decoration

10. A chance to spin the prize wheel

Can’t decide on a sales incentive? Put a bunch of options on a wheel and let your reps spin it!

There’s something very exciting about spinning a wheel for the chance at a fantastic prize. The mystery of not knowing what you’re going to get can be appealing, and the actual spinning of the wheel can be a fun event that adds the recognition factor we talked about above.

11. Let them choose their own incentive

Within reason, of course.

Your team is made up of individuals with their own specific tastes, hobbies, wants, and needs. Instead of choosing one prize that may not appeal to many of them, letting your reps choose their own reward within a certain budget or limit gives them the freedom to pick what motivates them.

In fact, you can encourage your reps to visualize what they would pick if they won at the beginning of the month, giving them the motivation to push for that reward.

Of course, these are all just sales incentive ideas that you can adapt to work within your program. But, how can you design a program that appeals to all of your reps and motivates the whole group?

Best practices for setting up sales incentives programs

Setting up a sales incentive program takes time and may require some trial-and-error the first time around.

However, here are some best practices that you can use to set up a winning incentive program:

Get to know your sales reps on a personal level

If the incentive you’re offering is impersonal and unappealing to your reps, you won’t motivate them to action.

So, before you implement an incentive program, talk to your reps. Get to know more about them personally. What are their hobbies, likes, dislikes, dreams? What do they aspire to achieve?

In a survey by The Incentive Research Foundation, participants were asked about their reward preferences. 99% had their own unique preferences, different from every other person in the study.

The lesson: Each rep is an individual. When creating your rewards system, treat each individual, and offer something that will appeal to them.

Make sure everyone has a chance to win

Your sales team is made up of top performers, average performers, and low performers.

Each group must be addressed and motivated according to their needs. For example, if all of your incentives go to the top performers, low performers will never be motivated because they’ll lose faith in their ability to even reach the reward.

To do this, create an incentive program that allows all reps to have a chance at winning.

For example, you might set a goal where each rep who closes a deal before the 15th of the month receives a prize. You could also set sales goals based on activity, such as a certain number of cold calls made per month. Or, you could reward the reps who improve their metrics, such as giving the incentive to the rep who achieves the greatest increase in their conversion rate in a particular stage.

By setting goals that are within reach of your whole team, not just to the top performers, every rep will be motivated to try their best.

You can also help your team avoid a toxic sales culture by creating incentives that the team needs to work together to reach. This builds a sense of duty and collaboration with your team as they all give their best and are all rewarded together for their efforts.

Use a leaderboard to maintain a transparent view for the team

In a contest with an incentive at the end, transparency is key. You don’t want reps to waste time trying to figure out if they’re ahead when they should be focused on selling.

An easy way to provide transparency is with a sales leaderboard. In Close, leaderboards can be created automatically, showing how each rep ranks according to sales goals such as calls, emails, time on the phone, leads created, deals closed, and more.

Keep it simple

If your reward systems or reporting is complex, this could demotivate the team instead of motivating them.

The goal or requirement to get the incentive should be clear and simple. Don’t add too many rules or conditions into the mix. A clear, achievable goal will be a much better motivator than a series of complicated hoops to jump through.

Align your sales incentives with company goals and culture

Your company has certain values and principles that it stands by and promotes among its employees. In fact, most of your sales team probably came to your company because of those values.

So, make sure your sales incentives align with the culture of your company because likely that’s what your employees care about as well.

For example, if you’re an EdTech company, your employees likely care a lot about education. So, why not offer incentives for professional development or classes that will improve their personal life?

Or, if your company is a non-profit, your incentive program could involve giving your sales reps time to spend with their favorite charity organizations.

Build a sales incentive program that motivates your team

By personalizing your sales incentives to the individual reps on your team, you’ll be more likely to motivate them to action.

Using the incentive ideas we discussed above, you can find offerings that appeal to each rep, giving them the boost they need to keep working hard, even through difficult times.

What's your experience with sales incentives? What have you found worked, or failed to work? Ever had a sales incentive that seemed to came with unintended consequences? I'd love to hear from you on LinkedIn!