Every sales leader wants and expects their sales team to be performing at a high level and to be generating revenue for the business! But what happens when a sales team is not performing to the high standards you (and your boss) likely demand? How do you motivate a sales team?

The first idea to incentivize sales isn’t hard to guess: It’s good ol’ fashioned cold hard cash. And hey, we aren’t knocking it. Of course, there are times when commissions work to motivate sales people – however in our experience, this kind of incentive only really benefits the sales people in your team whom are top performers; as they stand to cash in on the biggest bonuses. Plus, cash incentives must mean a higher margin is needed on the product or service that is being sold to justify the increase in expenses for the sales team.

How to Motivate Your Sales Team (with non-monetary rewards!)

1. Time Off

Here’s the thing; not everyone is motivated by money. Many people love money and work tirelessly for a bigger bank balance. Others, however, are simply not inspired to action when you dangle the cash-carrot. Perhaps they are feeling the pressure and a little ‘burnout’ and would much prefer paid time off in which they can spend time with their families and loved ones.

Try introducing this into your commission plan! This way, you are not having to give away more money, which could lead to a lower profit margin per product, but you are also engaging the members of your team who would much prefer an extra day to recharge their batteries.

  2. Team Support

It is amazing how much a good social gathering or team building/training exercise can be for a morale boost. Sales can be a very lonely (and grueling!) place; especially in a competitive environment. Sometimes getting the team together for a meal, drinks, or training session can be very awakening.

Last year we hosted our second mid-year sales retreat, where we gathered the entire team (from near and far) and went offsite for a two-day event. We included training, in-depth deal review and of course some fun! While the training and ‘work’ portion of the day were the focus, our evenings were filled with socialization. Building that camaraderie was just as integral to the event’s success. After two days, everyone left feeling energized, appreciated and most importantly, ready to execute.

Can’t afford or coordinate an event? You can get the same kind of benefits from a team dinner or local social event. It’s so important for reps to feel supported, especially when things are not going well. Show your human side and that connection will go a long way to getting that rep to work a little harder for you.

3. Competitions

There is no denying it; salespeople are naturally competitive, which is what makes them so good at what they do! Competitions can really motivate a sales team if done right. As opposed to giving individuals commissions for their good sales results, you may be surprised as to just how successful the creation of a healthy rivalry can be.

A competition does not have to be in-depth, creating more work to monitor and manage. A simple leaderboard system can work wonders and really encourage those in your team whom are falling behind and can fire them up. The key is providing regular visibility to the Leaderboard or whatever you choose. The competitor fire won’t burn if no one sees the standings! No one wants to be at the bottom…

If you want to motivate your sales team with money, and that kicks their production into high gear, by all means do it! But if you aren’t seeing the results you expect, don’t just raise the commissions and hope that works. Consider the idea that they are motivated differently and test a few ideas to see what reward best resonates. It won’t be hard to see what incentives work – either sales improve, or they don’t!

What incentives have YOU tried that worked or didn’t work? I’d love to hear from you!

Mike Scher is the Co-Founder of FRONTLINE Selling. With over 20 years of prospecting and sales experience, Mike is passionate about helping reps start sales cycles and generate predictable pipeline. Check out his best sales prospecting tips in this article, which is one his most read articles of all time!