U.S. companies spend over $800 billion a year on salesforce motivation, making it the biggest marketing investment made by business to business companies. Many offer outlandish awards as incentives, but the simplest strategies are often the most effective. Basic sales targets motivate core performers better than most other tools. According to Harvard Business Review, prizes and contests are also remarkably effective as long as they reward staff at every tier of achievement.

Award Strategies

There is no single silver bullet when it comes to prizes. Quotas need to be realistic or they will demotivate your staff. They also need to appeal to every component of your team, from your lowest performers to your best. Ironically, it’s harder to inspire top performers than bottom achievers, but the challenge can be overcome by rewarding behavior instead of numbers. Customer satisfaction surveys and account retention figures can inspire those whose numbers have reached their zenith.

Timing and Wording

Business psychology is often counterintuitive. Even the simplest reward structures can help or hinder sales teams. The timing of rewards and their labeling have direct effects on motivation. Your award wording should include basic information like:

  • The name and title of the team member
  • The name of the award’s sponsor
  • The reason for the award.

These are all straightforward, but the award’s title and timeframe are less so.

Core performers tend to respond best to awards rather than financial prizes. Lower tier performers achieve more when offered an annual prize. Weaker performers need the reminder that frequent awards bring. Framing competitions as a game seem to work across the board, so the more creative your award titles, the more they will improve engagement.

Only 25% of salespeople feel comfortable in a highly competitive workplace. Gamifying awards overcome this sense of rivalry, adding a fresh layer of fun to the office.

One company designed sales contests based on fantasy sports competitions, with surprising results. The team’s outbound calls increased by 18% and doubled call efficacy. The atmosphere created by the gamified award inspired productivity, but more importantly, the culture it created encouraged staff to be more creative with the way they approached their sales. Gamified award wording made the team feel more comfortable with the rivalry of the contest, even encouraging them to tackle their workdays as a team.

Managers became involved, too, offering more guidance and motivation than they had before.

Gamification isn’t the only way to achieve these results. As long as award wording focuses on the social aspects of sales and a sense of fun, the staff is more likely to see it as a feedback tool rather than a strict, disciplinarian Big Brother.

Reward Focus

  • That one titanic deal is certainly worth celebrating, but shifting focus onto pure revenue provides better results.
  • Giving salespeople a visual representation of their gross profit achievements helps them to advance towards meaningful goals.
  • Rewarding performance on low productivity days nudges your team towards consistency, but studies show that these awards need time limits and spontaneity to be effective.
  • Everyday incentives for small goals help your team to sustain their motivation on ordinary days.
  • Incentivizing excellent behavior on busy, high-volume days communicates expectations when the pressure is high.
  • Pairing high and low volume sellers in contests encourage mentorship.

Automation and analytics make it possible to track the metrics of each salesperson, and awards are the perfect way to show appreciation. When each member of your team understands their importance, they’re inspired to push themselves towards more ambitious sales. Appreciation is the currency of achievement, and that doesn’t cost a thing.