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15 sales incentives that actually work

Motivating sales teams month after month is no easy task. Here are 15 ideas that’ll boost your team’s performance.

By Stella Inabo

Published May 18, 2021
Last updated July 8, 2021

As a sales manager, you’re tasked with the difficult job of motivating your team month after month. A pat on the back might work sometimes, but that doesn’t always cut it. Enter: sales incentives.

Sales incentives help keep your team engaged and driven to crush their goals. Finding unique ways to reward your reps for their hard work also goes a long way in boosting employee satisfaction. According to a Deloitte study, 44 percent of employees will remain at their job if they’re rewarded with bonuses or financial incentives. Meanwhile, 41 percent said additional incentives would help motivate them.

So, think of sales incentives as a direct investment in your bottom line. They can lead to more successful sales, improve employee engagement, and ultimately drive higher levels of retention. The trick is choosing the right sales incentives—you’ll need to focus on your team’s unique preferences instead of adopting a one-size-fits-all approach.

Check out this wide variety of sales incentive ideas to find a suitable reward for each of your sales agents.

1. Travel vouchers

Your agents might spend a lot of time on planes, but most of their journeys aren’t recreational. While traveling, they’re focused on closing deals, which can get tiring. You can help avoid burnout with travel rewards such as:

  • Hotel vouchers: Offer agents a two-night stay at a nationwide hotel so they can plan a weekend getaway.
  • Travel coupons: Airbnb gives its employees $2,000 travel coupons each year. This amount is pretty generous, so consider offering this coupon as a motivator for only the top salespeople.
  • Plane tickets: Provide a gift card to the airline the company regularly uses so high-performing sales reps can pick their next vacation destination and build frequent flyer points.
  • Cruises: Carnival offers two- and three-day cruises that are perfect for a long weekend.
  • Travel points: Award employees with airline points so they can choose their own adventure.

The prospect of a well-deserved trip is something your sales team can look forward to. Give them a reason to keep their “eye on the prize” with these travel incentives.

2. Tickets to shows or sporting events

Dangle a ticket to a sports game, and die-hard sports fans will go crazy. Plus, if several of your agents are fans of the same team, game tickets could bring them closer together—that's one of the biggest benefits of an experiential, non-cash reward. Show tickets can also be effective sales incentives for agents. Some other ideas are:

  • Season tickets (football, hockey, baseball, etc.): Give your best-performing agents the opportunity to watch their team play throughout the season.
  • One-off tickets to big games (playoffs, championships, etc.): An equally great reward is to give sales agents the chance to attend one of the biggest sporting events.
  • A concert experience: Thrill your top seller with passes to a live show of their choice.
  • Backstage or VIP tickets to a specific show (as suggested by the rep): Delight your team with front-row seats or special access to see their favorite artist.

Ask your team if there’s a musician they’re obsessed with or a sports team they love. Chances are, you’ll discover a few incentives that are perfect for motivating your agents.

3. Team trip or night out

Although rewarding individual achievements is essential, your salespeople are still a team. Consider setting goals for the entire team to hit, and reward them with an incentive they can all enjoy. It can be:

  • A “daycation” at a local destination: Make team bonding even more memorable by booking a day of leisure at an upscale resort or hotel.
  • Kayaking or canoeing: Exploring the waterways is an exhilarating experience adventurous agents can appreciate together.
  • A mystery dinner at a location only you know about: Celebrate team wins with a twist by keeping the location of the restaurant secret until it’s almost time for dinner.

Winning—and reaping the rewards—together can reduce your sales team’s stress, curtail cutthroat competition, and promote camaraderie.

4. Fine-dining experience

Sometimes it’s hard to justify treating yourself to a fancy, expensive dinner. But that doesn’t mean we all don’t want to—your sales team included.

  • Restaurant gift card: Reward the top rep with a gift card to a nice restaurant where they can enjoy a meal with a loved one. Let your employees weigh in on which restaurants they’d want to try, or consider offering a few options your agents can choose from once a winner is determined.
  • Team lunch: Offer the top performer a lunch with the CEO or treat your entire team to a meal at a restaurant of their choice.

Fine-dining experiences cater to one of our most primal desires: delicious food. Find out if you have any self-proclaimed “foodies” on your team. If so, they’re likely to work hard for this one.

5. Tech goodies

Make your sales incentive program feel like Christmas. What tech toys are your sales reps eyeing? Maybe it’s fitness watches for your health-conscious agents, Kindles for the avid readers on your team, or even new laptops for anyone looking to upgrade. The good thing about tech sales incentives is that there’s a ton of options.

  • A cash voucher redeemable for a gadget of choice: If you’re not sure what to get for a high-performing team member, you can let them pick the product they want (within a specific budget).
  • A virtual-reality headset: This is an ideal reward for the gamers on your team.
  • A new laptop: Gift your top rep a new PC or Mac to make their workflow smoother.
  • Noise-canceling headphones: This is the perfect reward for salespeople who want to concentrate better and lower anxiety levels.

The list is endless. Find out what’s on your employees’ wish lists, and your incentives will turn your agents into kids in a candy store.

6. Office modifications or additions

Unless you have door-to-door salespeople on your team, most of your agents spend 40 hours a week at their desk—that’s a long time to spend sitting in one place, and it can start to take a toll. If your sales reps work remotely, their home office will likely need an upgrade. So, offering some budget-friendly incentives to improve their work station can encourage your sales team.

  • Ergonomic office chairs: Get your top performers chairs that are built for comfort so they can improve their posture and stay on their game.
  • Ergonomic keyboards: Reward your employees with these stress-reducing keyboards.
  • Standing desks: Consider providing your team with an adjustable model that can fit their needs.
  • A webcam, microphone, and ring light for virtual calls: This trio is perfect for remote salespeople who need to look (and sound) their best on calls.

A little extra comfort can go a long way when it comes to an employee’s well-being. By providing items that make your team’s workday more comfortable, you can keep them motivated.

7. Membership to a gym or fitness studio

It’s not always easy to budget for your favorite fitness class. I mean, let’s face it: Yoga studios, CrossFit gyms, and cycling classes aren’t cheap. But for many of us, the endorphins we get from exercise are what keep us going every day. That’s why gym memberships and fitness classes are effective incentives for your sales agents. Try offering:

  • A 10-time punch card to a yoga studio, CrossFit gym, or spin class: Encourage your sporty salesperson to hit their goals by giving them “unlimited” access to fitness activities of their choice.
  • A membership to a gym or studio of choice: Help your high-performing employees stay fit by covering the monthly or annual fee for their gym membership.
  • Personal training sessions: Having a private trainer is highly coveted, so you can offer this as an incentive to get your sales agents to close more deals.

If exercise helps your agents perform their best, it’s an incentive that benefits everyone.

8. Online learning courses

Online classes are great incentives for sales agents looking to develop their skills. They can also provide additional training for top performers looking to create a better sales process and move up in the company. The knowledge they learn can help ensure that they—and the rest of the team—are successful in the future. Some examples of online courses that could benefit your agents include:

  • Language classes: Coursera has hundreds of language courses for reps to choose from. This may be particularly beneficial for companies with a global customer base.
  • Painting classes or writing courses: Encourage your agents to free their minds and tap into their artistic side by providing free creative art lessons.
  • Full courses for professionals: Sign the star sales agent up for courses created by industry experts like David Sandler’s Sandler Selling System or Brian Tracy’s 21st Century Sales Training for Elite Performance. These are great for remote sales teams or employees who prefer online learning.

Allow your employees to get where they want to be in their careers with knowledge-based incentives.

9. Spa treatments

Sometimes, nothing’s better than a relaxing day of self-care. This is especially true after a long month of hard work. Consider chatting with your agents (or taking an anonymous poll) to make sure a day at the spa is something that would motivate them.

  • Pedicures or manicures: A little pampering (with the help of a nail technician) can go a long way in making your highest-performing agents feel valued.
  • Salon appointments: Surprise your top sales rep by booking them an appointment with a pro hairstylist.
  • Facials: A facial is an affordable luxury your agents will never forget.
  • Massages: Offer free massages as a wellness perk for those who meet their sales goals.
  • Acupuncture: This stress-relieving treatment will show your sales agents you care about them and appreciate their dedication.

Self-care incentives are opportunities for your top performers to relax and rejuvenate. Plus, they’ll come back refreshed and ready for another month of hard work (a win-win).

10. More PTO

What could be more appealing than additional paid time off? It’s an opportunity to spend more time with family, go on longer trips, or simply not be at the office. Motivate your team with PTO incentives like:

  • Extra vacation days: Give your top-performing sales reps more time to relax with loved ones or by themselves.
  • Additional PTO hours: Make it easy for hard-working sales agents to take a break when they need to.
  • More paid sick days: Prevent employees from losing money while they’re unwell.

Working hard to work less is an incentive anyone can appreciate, from the foodie to the sports nut.

11. Gift cards

Gift cards give your sales agents more freedom to choose how they use their well-deserved reward. They can also be personalized—once you determine who the best performers are, you can get them a gift card you know they’d be excited about and actually use. Here are a few ideas:

  • A Visa or Mastercard gift card: Allow your salespeople to purchase any item they want (within a certain budget).
  • A stock brokerage card from Stockpile: Help your sales team build wealth with gift cards that can be redeemed for shares in their favorite companies.
  • A gift card to access streaming services like Netflix and Spotify: Watching shows or listening to music is a great stress reliever for hard-working reps.
  • A book gift card: The bookworms on your team will appreciate a gift card from stores like Barnes & Noble or audiobook companies such as Audible.
  • An Amazon gift card: Take your employees on an online shopping adventure.

Giving your sales agents a gift card turns a monetary incentive like additional compensation into a tangible prize to strive for.

12. Website or newsletter feature

As a sales leader, your validation is a powerful thing. In a recent study by SurveyMonkey and Bonusly, as many as 82 percent of respondents said recognition would make them happier at work. To give your top performers kudos for a job well done, you can try:

  • Highlighting their achievements in the company’s newsletter
  • Displaying successes on the company’s website

While recognizing a salesperson, make sure to be specific about their accomplishments. You may also choose to recognize the team as the whole if everyone met their monthly goals.

13. Donate to a cause

Giving back feels almost as good as getting gifts. According to Forbes, the growing millennial workforce is more likely to donate than other generations. An incentive program that aligns with the values employees hold dear is more likely to succeed than one that doesn’t. You can implement this by creating a system that lets employees donate:

  • Their money: It could be as simple as replacing referral bonuses with donations or matching your salespeople’s donations to a nonprofit organization.
  • Their time: Support your team members by giving them paid time off to volunteer in their local communities.

Helping your team to make the world a better place is a perk that's hard to beat.

14. Subscription boxes

Everyone loves a good surprise—a carefully planned one is even better. Make your sales team feel special by giving them a subscription box. You can sign them up for:

  • A wine subscription box like Winc: Let the wine aficionados on your team pick and choose their vinos so they can sip and swirl to their delight.
  • A book subscription box like Book of the Month: Consider looking for a service that offers business books for those who want to up their skills.
  • A clothing subscription box like Stitch Fix: Help your rep dress for sales success with an online personal styling service.

Subscription boxes will keep your agents feeling good for months at a time, so they’re likely to stay motivated in the long-term.

15. Money

Last but not least are financial incentives. Cash is one reward that's easy to measure and appreciate. It’s great for rewarding top performers on an individual basis and teams when they exceed their sales goals. Just make sure you have a compensation plan in place so you reward your team equitably. Financial incentives can be offered as:

  • Bonuses: Reward team members who hit their quotas with extra money.
  • Commissions: Giving your agents a percentage of every new sale they make is a sure way to increase sales numbers.
  • Salary raises: Offer a salary increase to sales professionals who perform well at the end of sales cycles.
  • Shares of profits from deals: Giving your employees a cut from the deals they close can certainly boost sales.
  • Employee stock options: Offering stocks to employees makes them feel personally invested in seeing the company succeed (but it’s not advisable to give this in place of a base salary).

Cash incentives are a crowd-pleaser. They mean more money in the bank, plain and simple, which might be all the encouragement your team needs to put the pedal to the metal.

Build a sales incentive program that works for your team

To create a sales incentive program that works, you need to involve your sales team every step of the way. Find out what motivates them (and what doesn't). Make sure to ask for feedback on how each experience, gift, or financial incentive makes them feel so you can know what rewards matter to them.

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