Have an unmotivated sales team? Your business is doomed. And if they aren’t responding to or participating in team-building and incentive programs, your business may be equally doomed as well. Sales reps stand at the front lines of your operations — and keeping them motivated is key to any business’s success.
To effectively motivate sales teams, business owners and sales managers need to create a fun, goal-oriented culture that both encourages friendly competition and recognizes how reps want to be rewarded. And if you think financial incentives are the way to go, you couldn’t be more wrong. For one, small businesses and startups don’t have a ton of money throw around in the first place. Second, when it comes to motivating sales teams, money simply isn’t everything.
“We’ve tried running sales contests in the past, using various software and tools,” said Rick Hanson, vice president of worldwide sales and field operations at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Security. “There was a single goal and the reps who achieved that goal were rewarded, usually with money.” [What Sales Managers Can Learn From Their Team]
As a result, only a certain number of sales reps actually participated in these incentive programs, Hanson said. Those who knew they couldn’t reach that one goal didn’t bother to join, which meant the same reps would always get the cash.
“This was hardly the work of a cohesive, driven team with shared goals,” Hanson said. Rather than engage sales reps by establishing goals and metrics across the sales teams, such a financially driven contest missed its mark, he said.
Instead, business should think outside the box. To help you get some ideas, here are 10 creative — and even amusing — ways to motivate your sales teams.
1. Fantasy sports
Using FantasySalesTeam, players earn points for everything they do. For example, a rep might earn points for increasing pipeline or for every deal they close. Results are shared at online leaderboards and dashboards, visible to everyone in the company. The unique twist is that the reps don’t just compete as individuals; they build teams just like in fantasy football. Reps earn points for their FantasySalesTeam based on the performance of their chosen peers and friends, and this creates an environment of encouragement and pressure amongst the players. To win the game, they must rely and push on each other to perform. Even more exciting is just how many reps in our sales organization can, and want to, participate. FantasySalesTeam mixes business with pleasure, and when a rep enjoys a contest they typically work harder at it. — Rick Hanson, vice president, worldwide sales and field operations, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Security
2. Get a Ping-Pong table
Reward them with office/desk gadgets, toys, games, etc. You might not think that a Ping-Pong table for the office would push people and drive behaviors. Try it. Ipromise people will bust ass to hit metrics. From my experience, chair massagers, beanbag chairs, stand up desk converters, cube art, etc. can all be motivational rewards as well. — Kevin Baumgart, vice president of sales, Hireology
3. Sing, dance, nap, yoga and beer (not necessarily in that order)
At Yesware, we strive to create a fun environment where everyone wants to come into work every day. When a sales representative succeeds, it’s heard around the company. For instance, a closed deal results in the playing of a song of the salesperson’s choice, as well as a subsequent team dance. We also have a yoga studio onsite, as well as a nap room — which gets used a lot —for those who need a mental and/or physical break during the day. And beer o’clock comes around every Friday at 4:30 p.m., a time when we all share our highs and lows from the week. — Bridget Gleason, vice president of sales, Yesware
4. Play Hungry, Hungry Hippos
We organize daily contests and games based on different key performance indicators (KPI). Games including Minute to Win It, Spin the Wheel and Hungry, Hungry Hippos. A break that involves a quick game creates a sense of excitement for the entire team. It gives everyone something to chant for. — Mitch Paterson, manager, 1-800-GOT-JUNK?
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5. Call their spouses
I created award trips that must include at least the spouse and, ideally, the children. Since it is the spouse and the children who have to sacrifice when the salesperson runs appointments into the evening, checks his emails at breakfast and works on presentations over the weekend, they should be rewarded, too. Getting the spouse involved helps motivate the salesperson at home also because the spouse wants them to win, as well as feed in to their deepest needs and desires: to provide for and make their family proud of them. It works best when you have a relationship with the spouse, too. I have, in the past, skipped over the salesperson and called his spouse to let her know he needs to step it up if he’s going to qualify for the contest (or get that new house they want or pay for the kids’ college education). This can only have a positive effect when there is a deep relationship of trust and mutual desire for each other’s success. — Jessica Magoch, sales director, JPM Partners, LLC
6. Keep calm and ZUMBA
I hold weekly ZUMBA classes for my on-the-floor furniture/home décor sales team before store openings. This motivates and energizes them for the day. — Niki Cheng, co-owner, BoConcept
7. Public recognition. Using crowns.
When my sales reps have an exceptional week I find that publicly recognizing their accomplishments in front of their peers is that extra little morale boost to keep pushing. We make sure the entire office is aware of the accomplishments of our reps by holding an “honoring ceremony.” The highest achiever receives a custom-made crown with his or her name on it and for a week after, everyone in the offer refers to them as “Master,” which comes along with leadership duties such as leading the team chant. I’ve found that the “Master” incentive, coupled with bonuses for targets reached, encourages the already active, friendly competition between my sales reps. It keeps their motivation high and keeps them hungry to be the “Master.” — Nima Noori, CEO & founder, Toronto Vaporizer
8. Drinks on the house
On the last day of every month once the team has hit quota, every salesperson that hit their individual quota would be sent to a neighborhood outdoor bar to celebrate. We’d give them a budget to enjoy themselves and have them leave after lunch. It was great for motivation and for team bonding. The team was always focused on making sure they were a part of the group that enjoyed our favorite outdoor bar, Palomino in San Francisco! — Fernando Campos, co-founder, Topwick
9. Reward rejections
One of the best things we learned for motivating sales was rewarding them for the no’s. Every time someone got a “no” we tracked it in our system and the person with the most no’s received a $100 gift card every week. This might sound crazy, but you get a lot of no’s when doing sales. The more no’s you get, the closer you are to getting a “yes.” The prize of getting a “yes” is way larger than $100, so you still wanted to get “yes.” This nearly doubled our outbound calls and motivated the whole team. — Dan McGaw, founder and CEO Dan, Fuelzee
10. And don’t forget to celebrate the good times
When the wins come, we celebrate them. It can be as simple as a shout-out on the sales floor, an email message to the whole company to recognize the efforts, or on occasion I will request that the CEO take them out for lunch. It also isn’t uncommon for us to do team outings to celebrate hitting goals as a team. We’ve gone bowling, rented pontoon boats, played mini-golf, feasted on big dinners, or relished in a much deserved happy hour. Not surprisingly, these events reflect the culture we’ve created: social, friendly, and competitive. — Jeremy Hudson, director of sales, Logic Supply
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