Selling Power Blog

News & Insights for B2B Sales Leaders

February 1, 2017

Seven Non-cash Incentives to Motivate Salespeople

By Danny Wong, marketing consultant, sales strategist, and writer, Tenfold

It’s well known that cash is king for a sales team. Salespeople are paid on commissions and earn hefty bonuses for their hard work. Unfortunately, cash incentives are not always bottomless. To maximize your sales team’s performance, it’s important to know what you can offer them beyond a fatter paycheck.

Here are seven enticing non-cash incentives you can offer your sales reps.

1. Vacation Time and Travel Incentives

Money is always important to employees, but it turns out that vacations might be just as crucial. Research conducted by Site International Foundation and the Incentive Travel Council states 96 percent of all workers say travel incentives are important to them. Almost three-quarters claim they felt increased loyalty due to travel-based incentives. Most importantly, travel incentives are more cost-effective than cash bonuses. On average, base pay needs to be increased 8.5 percent more than the cost of a travel incentive to achieve the same satisfaction.

2. Guidance from Management

Non-cash incentives don’t necessarily have to be a benefit or a perk. Sometimes, they can be as simple as an improved work environment. For example, a McKinsey survey of employee motivators found the following items equally or more effective than any financial incentive:

  • Compliments from a direct supervisor.
  • The opportunity to regularly talk one-on-one with their manager and company leaders.
  • The opportunity to take charge of specific projects or tasks.

This means that, if you want to start incentivizing your best workers, you need to regularly engage them and give them more responsibility. Sometimes, incentivizing great work is as simple as acknowledging the good work they’re already doing.

3. Remote Work Days

Offering employees the opportunity to work from home one or two days each week if they hit their goals is extremely popular. Your employees won’t have to fight the morning commute and they’ll be able to spend their lunch break at their own kitchen table. Perhaps most importantly, they’ll be able to work in their sweatpants too.

It’s also important to keep in mind that your employees may actually perform better while they’re at home. A study conducted by Stanford University found that employees, on average, are 13 percent more productive when they worked from home versus at the office. This can be attributed to their happiness and the lack of typical workplace distractions.

4. Flexible Work Hours

Your best salespeople have proven they’re able to effectively manage their time and perform, so you should give them the flexibility they’ve earned. Let them come in a bit later on certain days or leave earlier once in a while. As long as they keep up with their responsibilities and their numbers don’t fall, flexible hours are a great perk to reward your top performers and motivate the laggards to earn a little more free time of their own.

5. Leads or Reassigns

One of the biggest duties you have as a sales manager is distributing leads or reassigning clients when a salesperson moves on or gets overwhelmed with other responsibilities. You can use these as a great non-cash incentive since it gives the salesperson who receives them a chance to make even more money. It makes perfect business sense, too, since you’ll be giving more accounts to the people who are working hard to earn them.

6. Awards and Honors

Sometimes, the recognition of being a top performer is enough to give your team a little extra incentive. If you simply award the most improved employee each month or the person with the highest productivity, it proves you’re paying attention and appreciate their efforts. Make sure to switch the criteria up every month so every rep has a fair chance to win the next time.

7. Gift Cards

Gift cards are a great way to give something just as good as cash with a little more thought behind it. In fact, the Incentive Research Foundation found that 44 percent of all people preferred gift cards as their reward of choice. Gift cards also give you a great way to keep people invested and interested in the reward process – you can have a vote each month for which gift card should be given out, or draw a name from a hat and let them choose. If you want to distribute multiple gift cards at once, many stores will even offer a bulk gift card discount, which saves you money too.

Incentivizing salespeople beyond cash bonuses and a commission can be tricky, but there are plenty of ways to do it if you’re savvy enough. By starting off with the suggestions listed above, your sales team will be more productive and motivated than ever before.

Headshot of Danny Wong

Today’s post is by Danny Wong, who is a marketing consultant, sales strategist, and writer. He leads marketing at Tenfold, a seamless click-to-dial solution for high-performance sales teams. Connect with him on Twitter @dannywong1190.