Most professionals go into sales because of the potential for substantive financial rewards. However, there will always be competitive companies that offer great salespeople more money. This is especially true for small to midsized businesses that don’t have deep pockets for new hires.  Money isn’t the only way to motivate salespeople as many salespeople are looking for more than just financial rewards.
In order to explore these non-financial incentives in more detail, let’s take a look at nine ways to keep employees engaged, happy, and retained.
1.) Showing Appreciation
This concept sounds simple, but it really is not put into practice by enough business leaders. In my entire sales career, only two situations come to mind in which my boss actually pulled me aside to thank me. This additional effort on behalf of bosses is rare, yet extremely effective.
The first memory was when my boss invited me into his office and told me that he spoke to our largest accounts that I was servicing. He let me know that told me that contacts at these accounts raved about me, which meant a lot to hear. He also gave me a $100 bill, and said, “Please have a fun time tonight on me.”
The second time I can recall appreciation being shown was when I had closed a large account and a different boss called me to say, “I just wanted to let you know how proud I am of you.” What demonstrates the impact that these events had on me, is the fact that they both took place over ten years ago and I still think about them.
Beyond personal interactions with successful employees, it can be effective when appreciation is demonstrated through the recognition of achievements in a team setting. This could be in a meeting, or through team emails.
2.) Sales Contests
Sales contests are great motivational devices. I remember running sales contests at one of my previous companies, where the reward was a $100 restaurant gift card. I personally wanted to put that gift card to good use, which motivated me to win, and I wasn’t the only member of my team that felt this way.
Who doesn’t enjoy the feeling associated with winning something? The monetary value is typically less significant than the feeling of winning, which is why this incentive can be effective. I also enjoy running contests with the offer of a prize as opposed to extra money in a paycheck. That extra money usually goes towards bills, and it can be nice to have an excuse to treat yourself to a nice meal or purchase at any number of potential stores.
Another great option is to offer something specific that you know team members would love to win, such as Airpods ($200), a jersey of the winner’s favorite athlete ($150), 2 tickets to a sporting event or concert ($200-$500), or a flat-screen TV ($200-$1,000).
3.) Training
When it comes to offering motivation and providing employees with an incentive to work hard and remain with your organization, training is a powerful route to take. Investing in outside training demonstrates your willingness to do whatever you can to help them succeed.
Hearing these suggestions from an unbiased third party is quite different, as it makes your employees feel like they are constantly improving.
4.) Flexibility
There are many ways to demonstrate flexibility as a boss, and top performers deserve it when they are exceeding expectations on a regular basis. It’s very easy to reward the best of your team members with the ability to work from home, and it doesn’t cost you a dime.
This simple action motivates employees to perform, and the good ones will actually perform even better. Many will save hours in commute time and will be free from the distractions of other individuals in the office.
5.) Additional Paid Time Off
Vacation time is a highly sought after benefit these days and providing additional vacation days or unlimited PTO doesn’t cost anything. If you have a great salesperson, they will figure out ways to exceed their sales goal, even when they have less time to do it. As long as you are clear in your incentives, then all salespeople will understand why additional paid time off is offered to the top performers and will motivate everyone to do their best.
6.) Warm Leads
I haven’t spoken with a single salesperson who has expressed their love for cold calling. Top performers should be rewarded with more warm leads in order to keep them happy and successful. These can be appointments set by the BDR team, inbound calls, or leads through marketing.
7.) Strong Territory
Anyone in sales knows that certain territories are much better to work than others. Top performers deserve their choice of open territories. These individuals have proven their ability, and if they would prefer to work in a specific region, let them at it.
8.) Strong Benefits
Benefits are one of the biggest factors when it comes to a business’s ability to retain top talent. I recently spoke with a candidate who expressed his unwillingness to move due to the strong benefits that his current employer was providing. They paid 100% of his health insurance and provided a great 401k match.
When I ran the numbers, I determined that his company is paying $7,000-$10,000 more per employee in order to provide great benefits per year as opposed to average benefits. That is a significant amount of money, but the irony is that this candidate felt that he was being treated especially well because the benefits were so strong. This feeling outweighed the thought of, “I know I could make $25,000 more at another company.”
9.) Stock Options
Stock options communicate a very strong message to your employees, and this is, “If you have the company’s best interest at stake, you’ll be rewarded. Your success is our success and vice versa.” This is why I like stock options as a motivator. They often result in higher retention rates, as employees actually have a stake in the results. In the end, they will work harder and smarter.
There are many motivators beyond financial rewards, and some can be effective in different yet just as powerful ways. Rather than thinking, “I’m a smaller company and can’t compete for strong salespeople,” start getting creative and think of other ways to get them excited.
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