5 Ways to Motivate a Sales Team

Five top tips for creating a rewards program that will motivate employees, boost results, and show the company’s commitment to its sales teams..

A handwritten note demonstrates personal recognition. © Swarovski

The buzz of a cash prize can quickly fade. A tangible personalized reward, on the other hand, has longevity.

There’s an old saying: “What gets rewarded, gets done.” This is true of sales people, who are generally competitive by nature. It makes incentive programs an important way to motivate employees, keep energy levels high and, ultimately, boost results. The psychology of incentivization is complex, however, so putting together a program requires careful thought. Here are five points to keep in mind:

1. Understanding what really motivates a team is crucial to the success of any incentive program. For many, being recognized for their effort is just as important as receiving a reward for it.

2. Research shows that 80% of sales come from 20% of the team1. In other words, the top 20% are already motivated, so it’s the remaining 80% that need encouragement. That’s why it’s important to have more than one winner in any incentive program – it can actually demotivate the rest of the team if the reward always goes to the star performer.

Sculptural awards make stylish statements of appreciation. © Swarovski

3. While it’s true that financial rewards are always appreciated, the buzz of a cash prize can quickly fade2. A tangible personalized reward, on the other hand, has longevity. Something that’s used every day – a stylish wristwatch certainly fits this category. Alternatively, an accessory such as a crystal paperweight or vase that can be proudly displayed in the office or at home. These are tangible reminders of past success, and a spur to even greater efforts in the future3.

4. The most effective incentive programs are simple, with clear-cut, achievable goals4. For example, rewarding everyone who reaches a certain target, or giving a prize to the top three team members who convert calls to sales. It’s a good idea to steer clear of complicated metrics and formulas, or anything that will increase the workload of colleagues outside the sales team.

5. In a competitive environment, progress reports are crucial. Maintain engagement by providing the team with regular updates and feedback, and include short-term as well as long-term goals. And do keep the time between winning and receiving a reward as short as possible.

Swarovski’s well-considered range of business gifts is designed to support companies with incentive programs that recognize and reward talent.


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1 Smart Insights (2016)
2 The HR Director (2018)
3 Forbes (2018)
4 Harvard Business Review (2016)