16 Sales Team Incentives to Keep Your Team Engaged and Motivated

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Emma Fulcher
Emma Fulcher
In Incentives, Sales Motivation, Sales Performance, Trending
Emma Fulcher is the Social Media Manager and Content Writer at Xactly. She attended San Jose State University where she received her degree in English.

June is upon us, and with it has come that familiar wave of distractions – hot weather, vacations, and the Golden State Warriors clinching the NBA Finals! But alas, there is still work to be done and it’s critical to keep sales teams motivated as they head into Q3 during the dog days of summer.

As such, you should be thinking of new ways to keep your sales team motivated with their eye on the prize…literally and figuratively. SPIFs, special performance incentive funds, may be the answer to keeping sales teams on target.

SPIFs are a great way to motivate results, and can help inspire your sales team to reach specific goals or to motivate a little extra performance in typically slower times. In fact, research from the Aberdeen Group showed that more than 50 percent of best-in-class companies drove their increased profits through the use of SPIFs.

The trick is knowing how to use SPIFs correctly, and what sales team incentives to use to get those competitive sales juices flowing. We will start with the former, as there is an art and science to using SPIFs correctly, including:

  • Not knowing your goal. What is it you are actually trying to accomplish? Once you know, be specific about it, and craft your SPIFs to drive the behavior that will lead to goal achievement.
  • Being too predictable. SPIFs that fall on the same week or month of consecutive years can easily be predicted, with reps holding back during these times in order to reap the ultimate benefit once the SPIF window opens. Keep your team on its toes, and preserve SPIF value by not offering too many of them.
  • Having an unclear time frame. Again, what are your needs? Do your set goals dictate performance this week, month, or quarter? How soon do you need your team to turn around their behavior? Knowing this will allow you to make more strategic decisions, even allowing you to bring in insights or empirical data to benchmark your decisions. The more time and effort you put into planning, the better your returns will be.
  • Making SPIFs too complicated. The results of your campaign and how they align with rep actions should be crystal clear. Sales reps should be able to easily see that if they sell X, they’ll be rewarded with Y. Take out all of the guesswork for maximum participation and performance.
  • Creating SPIFS that aren’t specific enough. Know your audience. Play to your audience. You want to be able to quickly launch short-term incentives, but you also want to ensure the rewards you’re offering resonate. Look back to previous years’ data and perhaps use predictive modeling to determine potential outcomes this time around. Also, make sure your sales team is structured properly in order to maximize performance.
  • Forgetting to analyze the outcome. Compare the actual results to those you predicted at launch. If your SPIF didn’t end up driving the desired behavior, use your data to figure out why. Then, tweak your incentive to address those gaps and redeploy it! Incentives are a science, and like any science, it requires some experimentation – the only way to fail would be to stop innovating or stop consulting the data; everything else is progress!

Download our eBook, "The Complete Guide to Sales Team Compensation," to learn to build comp plans specifically designed for each sales role.

SPIFs can be used to reach any specific goal, big or small. If you need a productivity boost for any reason, whether it’s summer slowdown or even the beginning of a quarter,  a SPIF could provide a welcome jolt. The question then becomes… what should the incentive be? At the very basic level, these fall into two camps, cash and non-cash incentives.

To Cash or Non-Cash Incent – That is the Question…. 

Cash Rewards
While conventional wisdom might argue that cash is king, that is not always the case when it comes to SPIFs. Employees have been chasing cash most of their work lives, so it might not inspire the change in behavior you anticipated. A reward of the non-cash variety, however, introduces something different and potentially more exciting.

Non-Cash Rewards
Non-cash rewards introduce something unique, and oftentimes represent a tangible prize that employees might not have otherwise desired had it not been for such compensation (but it’s still something they’d love to obtain). You can read more about the benefits of non-cash rewards here.

If you go the non-cash direction, the next step is to determine WHAT creative non-cash sales team incentives you can offer to fire up your team and leverage their competitive nature to your advantage.

List of Sales Team Incentives:

  1. Gift Cards: I can feel you rolling your eyes. While common, items such as Visa or American Express gift cards give people the freedom to spend their rewards when and how they desire. For example, maybe they are saving up for a vacation, or a something more grandiose like an engagement ring… a nice gift card can help inch them closer to reaching their goal. 
  2. Fine Dining Experience: A reservation at a popular restaurant that’s difficult to get into could be intriguing. If possible, give a few different restaurant options, and importantly, allow the winner to take their entire family.
  3. Tickets to a Sporting Event or Concert: Awarding tickets to a local sporting event is always a nice reward. To take it to the next level, perhaps even offer the option for the winner to attend a not-so-local event, and take care of their travel and lodging, too.
  4. Tech Gadgets: Cool tech gadgets aren’t often purchased without headache, requiring anyone looking to obtain the latest and greatest to wait in long lines at odd hours. Your employees would probably love to keep up with the trends, but doing so could be pricey given how quickly technologies change!
  5. Extra PTO: What’s more valuable than a day of mental relaxation – especially knowing your earned every second of it? The opportunity to relax and recharge is simple, yet valuable. It’s especially perfect after a busy quarter or time-consuming project. 
  6. Preferred Parking: Who can forget that scene in Office Space where Peter parks in Lumbergh’s reserved parking space, resulting to Lumbergh later getting his car towed for using a handicap space! The long and the short, there is no VIP statement like a reserved parking spot. Especially if that parking saves time for an employee making their way into the office because of added convenience, this might be a great non-cash reward.
  7. Spa Day, Round of Golf, or Other Activity: Some of your sales team members might enjoy a day at the spa, while others would rather be out swinging clubs. Others might enjoy something else entirely, so do your best to get to the bottom of what will really drive your people to earn a day out of the office.
  8. Employee’s Choice: Think about your primary goal here – to motivate your sales team to work harder and smarter on their way to closing more deals. With that being case, why not just give them their choice of perks, within reason, of course!
  9. Wine Club Membership: Have a wine lover on your team? How about a beer lover? Actually, these days, you can probably find a subscription service for any interest. Take inventory of your team’s likes (and dislikes) and see if you can’t find the perfect match.
  10. Travel Vouchers for a Weekend Getaway: Traveling to a new destination is always thrilling, and tough to beat…unless you’re given the option to do so at the expense of someone else.  Treat your top performers to the likes of a weekend trip or go bigger and set them up with a weeklong cruise.
  11. Learning Opportunities: Many companies provide opportunities for employees to attend classes, seminars, etc. to learn more about their specific craft. The problem is, not every city is considered a hub for such activity. So, look for ways to get your people to larger, high-profile conferences in neighboring states or across the country.
  12. Lunch with Executives: For some, the ultimate reward is being publicly recognized by their peers. Lunch with the CEO is a nice option because it offers such recognition, and allows the winner to pick the brain of your company’s leader.
  13. Personalized Shopping Experience: Stich Fix, Trunk Clun, etc. are all the rage right now. How about offering 6 months personalized shopping with $250 per month in wears? This will be the gift that keeps on giving and your sales team will look sharp in all their upcoming meetings!
  14. Home Makeover: Who needs Ty Pennington? The two things most of us need when it comes to home improvement are more time and more money. What if your incentive addressed both? Offer a $5,000 home improvement project to get the sales team driving towards that new hard word floor or outdoor fire pit! (We can taste the s’mores already!)
  15. Culinary Classes: From pasta to brew making, there are a number of budding Chopped Champions out there. Appeal to their culinary spirit with a series of cooking lessons.
  16. Extreme Adventures: According to a recent study from the Incentive Research Foundation, the top “wow” incentive amongst millennial employees was “adventure activities” (such as hiking and extreme sports). These workers are looking for unforgettable experiences – not just goods, so why not treat them to the adventure of a lifetime.

These 16 ideas are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the kinds of SPIFs/incentives you can dream up for your team. The main consideration is to build flexibility into your rewards programs so you can keep offerings fresh, motivating and appropriately personalized to appeal to your broader team. Happy incenting!


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16 Sales Team Incentives to Keep Your Team Engaged and Motivated

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