Sales Incentives and the Cycle of Motivation

What better way to start a conversation about sales incentives and motivation than to quote one of the masters of sales training and performance, Dale Carnegie:

“There is only one way to get anybody to do anything, and that is by making the other person want to do it.

It seems obvious, doesn’t it? Yet many companies commemorate their top sales performances in a way that often serves to deflate desire as much as create it. 

You know what we’re talking about: After a brief celebration and a nice reward to the top achiever(s), everyone’s performance meter is set back to zero so they can start over again as if nothing had happened.

Sales Leadership and Quotas

In exchange for finding, cultivating, and closing deals, your sales team members are paid commissions and sent out to find the next one. They are back to zero and only as good as the current month (quarter or year).

But starting everyone at zero has an ironic effect: it penalizes top performers and rewards the worst ones. Since everyone starts over at zero after the measurement period, there isn’t a top or bottom achiever. Everyone is the same. What’s past is past.

Back to Dale Carnegie:  “There is only one way to get anybody to do anything, and that is by making the other person want to do it.

By making everyone the same, you’re removing as much motivation as you may add.

Cycle of Motivation

Human beings do their best work when we can see the fruits of our labor and make an impact beyond the numbers – when it means more than meeting our quota. 

At Xceleration, we call our approach to designing and managing effective reward programs “The Cycle of Motivation.” 

Step 1: Communicate Desired Values and Behaviors

Ensure that the rewards and recognition you deliver to top performers align with company culture or values, which are the principles, beliefs, and goals that drive operations and stimulate employees to work together. 

Step 2: Motivate Employees Through Messaging

Employees are far more likely to be highly engaged in their work when connected to purpose by their leadership. Messages from senior leadership are particularly motivational to most high-performing employees.  Hearing from people at the top boosts morale, improves productivity, increases employee satisfaction, and reduces anxiety and discontent.

Step 3: Perform Desired Behaviors

Engaged employees devote additional time, effort, and initiative toward company goals. They want to be part of the organization and consistently say positive things about the company to coworkers. Studies have shown that companies with high employee engagement are 21% more profitable and 22% more productive than their peers. 

Step 4: Recognize Employees Formally for Their Efforts

More than two-thirds of employees (69%) say they would work harder if they felt more appreciated. More than a third (37%) cite recognition is the most critical job satisfaction factor. Fortunately, there are endless options for recognizing employees for their efforts, from the day-to-day, informal and unplanned – such as verbal praise and positive feedback – to the formal and structured. 

Step 5: Reward Employees

Rewards and incentives provide “trophy value,” or long-term meaning and memorability, for your recognition efforts. They may be monetary( such as a bonus)  or non-monetary (such as paid time off or a travel incentive). 

Employees rank cash bonuses as number one when asked what type of performance rewards they prefer. But when asked what rewards provide them with the most significant job satisfaction and motivation to do their best work, cash bonuses don’t even rank in the top 5. (IRF)

Instead, the reward and incentives considered the most satisfying and motivating were company-paid experiential rewards, including incentive travel, event tickets, outings for their family, extra paid PTO, and other such incentives.

6: Repeat the Cycle as Engagement Increases

The sixth and final step in the Cycle of Motivation is to repeat it, increasing its impact and effectiveness.

Xceleration makes that easy with our proprietary RewardStation® web-based global recognition software. RewardStation® aligns with your unique culture, values, and employee demographic to maximize engagement and ROI on recognition efforts.

Rethink Your Approach

Human beings do their best work when it means more than meeting our quota. To help maintain the Cycle of Motivation for your team, consider some rewards and incentives like these three examples:

Use your engagement tools

With Xceleration’s RewardStation® platform, your team will have access to an array of engagement tool like leaderboards, goal-setting, and metric dashboards. Utilize these components to keep your team engaged and to recognize each achiever’s impact on your company long-term.

Celebrate achievements publicly

Public recognition can make a great impact on morale and engagement that lasts. For instance: create a wall of customer logos and next to each, include a headshot of the sales rep that works with them. As reps and companies come and go, let the wall reflect that so that reps who have helped build the company over the years feel pride each time they walk by. 

Give aspirational rewards

Provide impressive, aspirational rewards to high-performing individuals based not just on their performance in a given quarter or year, but also on their overall impact on your business over time. Create a culture of recognition that celebrates everyone’s achievements and inspires those who are still learning to achieve even more.

Step Up Your Recognition Program

Choose the right partner to get the most out of your reward and recognition efforts. Xceleration helps organizations like yours build and carry out strategic, effective recognition programs. Reach out to us today to create a thriving culture of recognition that will pay dividends for many years.

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