9 Creative Sales Incentive Ideas for Retail Employees

Salesperson on iPad
Ronald Sierra
Ronald Sierra
In Incentive Compensation, Sales Coaching and Motivation
Ron Sierra is a Content Writer at Xactly. He earned a literature degree from UCSC and specializes in creating value-driven content for professionals in everything from construction to tech to sales & finance.

Besides the obvious, why should retailers care about motivating employees? Simply put, motivated employees make happy customers. As part of your organizational business and retail sales plan, motivating your staff should be a priority. These can be financial or even non-cash rewards.

Yet, before you start working on your sales incentive ideas, you have to figure out what motivates your employees. What can you do to drive them towards their best performance? Answering these questions can help you create the right programs, contests, and incentives to motivate your retail employees to be the best they can be.

1. Play Wheel of Fortune

You know the popular game–spin the wheel and pick a letter. If you pick a letter that’s on the board, you get the corresponding amount on the wheel. And, if you solve the puzzle, you get to keep the cash and prizes you’ve accumulated. Well, why not play a version of Wheel of Fortune with your retail employees?

Use whatever prizes makes the most sense for your business. This can include clothing, gift cards, candy, beauty products, food or something else. You can use a cardboard circle, then create pie pieces with a marker and cut out colored pieces of cardboard with the prizes written on them to create a colorful wheel.

Other options for prizes might include non-cash rewards such as “Additional paid 20 minutes for lunch break,” “Paid half day off,” “coffee shop gift card,” and whatever else you can think of that would be relevant and appreciated by your retail staff. Be as creative as you can. Then, let your employees spin that wheel!

2. Start With Smaller and More Realistic Goals

It’s great to have massive goals, aka “reach” goals. Still, retail employees can lose motivation if they can’t realistically meet those types of goals. Not every employee will be motivated by the same thing. So, it’s important to focus on specific types of goals that can be very motivating.

This can include breaking down larger goals into smaller ones, that are much easier to reach. As your retail staff meets one goal, they build up the confidence to reach for the next level up. Also, with smaller goals–such as weekly goals–you keep your retail staff engaged with your sales incentive ideas.

Instead of setting a billion-dollar quota, think of getting 50 new customers this week. Perhaps you can make it a team effort. Every 50 customers is another step towards reaching that billion-dollar quota. Then, reward the team that reaches the weekly goal with a party or even the afternoon off. And, if everything works out you can make 2018 a year of sales successes.

3. Fishing for Prizes

Let your employees go fishing for motivating prizes. One of the easiest ways to motivate your retail staff is through sales incentive programs. Even with a limited budget, the end result is still positive. Employees are more motivated when they are rewarded and recognized for their work.

So, write down some relevant and sought-after prizes onto pieces of paper or even paper fish cutouts. Then, put them in a fishbowl. Create a bold and colorful sign to highlight your game.

Use a rod, branch or stick to let your employees “go fishing” when they meet their goals. This is just one fun game which drives employee engagement. It’s also important to use prizes your staff will find rewarding and useful.

4. Pass that Buck

With this game you can choose a daily goal and let everyone know when their shift begins. Maybe the goal is to sell more black t-shirts. The person who sells 20 black t-shirts gets $20. They then get to keep that $20 bill until the next person sells 20 black t-shirts.

And, the buck continues to get passed until the end of the shift. The last person with the $20 gets to keep it. This is one of the examples of sales incentives for employees that adds an extra layer of competition.

5. Pop that Balloon

Everyone loves blowing up balloons then popping them. Plus, balloons are affordable so get several bags! Before you start inflating, write down prizes on scraps of paper. Stuff one piece of paper in each balloon and blow it up. Vary the prizes so that they range from small prizes to large prizes.

Employees want to feel recognized and that they’re good at their jobs. They also want to feel that they’re heard, especially in team environments. Employee incentive programs can help set a positive tone that will trickle down. Your job is to inspire your employees. So, back to popping those balloons.

Each time a goal is met, let your employee choose a balloon. They won’t know what they’ve won until they pop the balloon.

Download the "Retailers Guide to Sales Commission Planning," for everything you need to design commission plans that motivate employees and enhance customer experience.

6. Have a Raffle

Having raffles are another option for sales incentive ideas. Start by setting measurable goals for each member of your retail staff. Each time they hit their target, give them a specific number of raffle tickets. When the contest is over, raffle off the prizes and pick winners at random.

The better-performing employees will get more tickets, which means more chances to win. Employees seek face-to-face feedback from their managers. You can’t downplay the importance of employee motivation and sales incentives. Motivated employees perform better, improve productivity and want to stick with the company instead of interviewing with the competition.

7. Parking Pass Giveaway

Everyone wants to park right next to the entrance–it really is the prime spot. When everyone is in a rush, parking at the same time can be horrific. It doesn’t matter how much you workout at the gym, everyone wants to park as close to the workplace as possible. One of your sales incentive ideas can include prime parking as a prize. This might be a continual sales contest–perhaps a monthly or quarterly contest.

So, let the winner keep the parking pass for at least a month or a quarter. Giving the parking pass for a week just isn’t motivating enough. It won’t cost the company much to offer good parking, and the employees will truly appreciate and use the prize.

8. Have Fun With Sports

Do you have a staff of football, basketball, hockey or baseball fans? Sales incentives for employees should be fun and encourage their interests. So, think about creating contests around some of their favorite sports. When it’s football season consider a form of fantasy football without the betting aspect.

In the spring, you might consider a “March Madness” style game. The opportunities are endless for sports-themed sales incentive programs. Then, prizes might be tickets to games.

9. Scavenger Hunt

This can be a competitive, fun and group-style of sales incentive program. So, get your staff to work in teams. You might put together each team based on strengths or specialties each of your sales staff has. Then challenge each team to complete the goals on the list such as sell over a certain dollar amount or sell to a certain number of new customers or sell a specific number of different products.

In Conclusion

You just can put a price on the cost of motivating and retaining high-performing employees. This helps to inspire your employees to become more productive, which produces a win-win situation for the company and the employee.

All of the above sales incentive ideas also create a more positive working environment your retail employees will enjoy. It’s always fun to have a bit of friendly competition on top of talking about the prizes and who won.


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