Benchmarks - Sales Incentives

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Benchmarks - Sales Incentives

Personal and professional development opportunities, subscription boxes, and travel vouchers are some non-cash sales incentives that companies could apply to boost their representatives' productivity and strong performance. While we were unable to identify specific incentives used in the B2B and manufacturing industries, the incentives explained below could be applied by companies within any industry, including the B2B and manufacturing industries. Below is a list of 18 sales incentives.

Non-Cash Sales Incentives

1) Gadgets and Products

  • Gadgets such as tablets, smartwatches, laptops, the latest iPhone, Bluetooth headsets, etc., are generally among the most popular non-cash sales incentives that companies can offer to their sales personnel. In most cases, people would be motivated to earn them. The companies can also allow sales representatives to customize the color or functionality of the gadget, thereby adding more value to the incentive.
  • Employers can also consider offering their sales team home utility products such as a high-end coffee maker, 4K TV, advanced sound system, etc., or hobby products like a high-end bicycle, rock-climbing equipment, noise-canceling headphones, or a musical instrument. Office equipment like standing desks or new monitors also makes for a high utility non-cash sales incentive.
  • Additionally, the companies can consider gifting their sales employees a premium subscription of tools/software that helps them become better salespeople and employees. Employers should make sure to offer a choice between two or three different products to their sales team to ensure that the incentives are appealing to all the different members of the team.
  • These above-mentioned gadgets and product prizes act as an excellent incentive for the sales team in any company because they are a physical reminder to them of their achievements. These prizes allow the employees to relive the glory of their achievements when people ask them about the same down the road.

2) Subscription Boxes

  • Subscription boxes are another useful non-cash incentive option for the sales teams to offer to their representatives, especially during the current pandemic. They allow the sales employees to enjoy personalized products that they love while maintaining a safe distance.
  • Some most popular subscription box offerings that companies can consider offering as non-cash sales incentive include Birchbox (skincare and beauty products), TryTheWorld (gourmet foods from around the world), Frank and Oak (eco-friendly clothing and style box for men and women), Barkbox (subscription service providing dog products, services, and experiences), MistoBox (personalized boxes of coffee from top roasters), Dollar Shave Club (curated grooming products for men and women), KiwiCo (boxes with hands-on crafts and activities for children and teens), and Winc (a wine club subscription with wines personalized to the subscriber's likes), among others.
  • Other subscription services like HelloFresh, Book of the Month, and Stitch Fix are also extremely popular. The companies can consider providing a 6-month or year-long subscription as an incentive to their sales personnel.
  • The primary advantage of offering these subscription boxes is that representatives can personalize them as per their choice and enjoy some personal hobby time outside the office.

3) Vacations and Travel Vouchers

  • Vacations make for a great incentive for employees, and many companies choose to provide them as a team-based reward as it is a fun way to celebrate and bond together after reaching a common goal.
  • As per data provided by Mailshake, 96% of all employees consider travel incentives as being important to them. Additionally, almost 75% of the employees claim that they felt increased loyalty due to travel-based incentives. This underlines the importance of vacations as a non-cash incentive in companies.
  • However, currently, American companies offer significantly fewer paid vacation days than those in other countries. This is corroborated by the fact that the US citizens working in the private sector are granted an average of just ten days of paid vacation after one year of working for a business as compared to an average of 30 days of vacation time per year in Brazil. Hence, the US companies can look to offer their workers more of these vacation days as incentives to attract top talent or to improve their performance.
  • Companies can also consider providing their sales team with travel sales incentives in the form of travel vouchers such as hotel vouchers, plane tickets, cruises, and travel points (employees can choose their own adventure), among others.

4) Entertainment Rewards

  • Entertainment incentives are yet another non-cash incentives that act as good motivators for the employees. Incentives like sporting events, ballet tickets, or off-broadway shows can be a popular option that companies can consider offering their sales representatives to allow them to get some time away from the office.
  • Employers can also consider offering the option for the top performers to attend an out-of-town event and take care of their travel and lodging as well. They can also consider offering employees the choice of entertainment events based on their interests and hobbies. The sales representatives can even be asked via a short survey about the upcoming events that they would love to attend.
  • Some other entertainment reward options for the employers include season tickets (football, hockey, baseball, etc.), one-off tickets to big games (playoffs, championships, civil war games), reimbursable concert experience (tickets to any show of the rep’s choice), tickets to theme parks, zoo, or aquarium, and backstage or VIP tickets to a specific show (as suggested by the representative). In case two or more team members like the same event, companies can also consider organizing a team outing to that entertainment event to help improve team camaraderie.
  • The company can also consider offering their representatives a gym membership or a yoga class membership to encourage them to get out and be active. This acts as a great motivator for the employees as it can be used by them daily and it also shows to them that the company cares about their personal development.

5) Office Modifications/Upgrades

  • Since a majority of inside sales personnel spend at least 40 hours a week at their desks, employers can consider offering them office upgrades in the form of ergonomic office chairs, standing desks, and larger cubicles or desks. This would make the work-life of the representatives more comfortable and ensure their well-being.
  • Also, it helps the sales representatives to enhance their productivity. Noise-canceling headphones, dual-monitor system, and personalized lighting or other office accessories and decoration are some other office modifications that employers can offer to their sales employees as incentives to make the work-life more exciting and rewarding.

6) Remote Working Days & More Flexibility

  • Remote working days are considered to be a common and effective way to reward salespeople and motivate them to achieve higher targets. The employers can consider providing their top-performing sales representatives a couple of remote working days each month when they don’t have any face-to-face client meetings.
  • Also, if the company set-up permits, the sales representatives can even work from a vacation destination on these days. This will up their vacation time without actually losing any team productivity as, on average, employees are 13% more productive when working from home.
  • Employers can also consider providing their top sales representatives more flexibility in their work by giving them the option to have a remote working day each week, to work nine hours one day and six the next, or the ability to leave an hour early on a Friday, as long as their week’s work is done. Such flexibility demonstrates to the employees that the management trusts them to do a great job and is willing to reward that trust with greater autonomy. This kind of incentive can be especially impactful for team members with long rush-hour commutes or extended weekend travel plans in mind.

7) Workplace Perks

  • Employers that don’t have a huge budget to spend on incentives for sales representatives can consider offering some perks at work in the form of a reserved parking spot, a half-day of work, or even just an extended lunch hour. While these do not cost much to employers, they go a long way in boosting the morale of the salespeople who want a few extra hours off their work.
  • If the workplace is located in a busy area with limited parking options, then offering the salespeople a prime free parking spot for the week or the month can really boost their motivation. It can also motivate the other representatives to kick their sales up a notch to achieve the feast.
  • Companies can also consider doubling the lunchtime of their salespeople for a week or a month as an incentive. Nearly 56% of the employees take less than 30 minutes for lunch because they’re worried about irking their managers. Hence, longer lunch breaks can help contribute directly towards employee creativity and mental health.
  • Allowing sales representatives to bring their pets to work once a week or month can help improve the mood and enthusiasm of the employees. Dogs "allow employees to interact in a positive setting and are especially useful for providing support during a difficult sales sprint."

8) Gift Cards

  • Gift cards are among the most common non-cash incentives that are provided by the companies to reward their sales representatives. These are easily available from most businesses, including restaurants, online stores, boutiques, and the like. Employers can also provide the freedom to their representatives to choose the gift card that they want. Such physical and symbolic incentives also motivate other representatives to work towards achieving them.
  • Some most popular gift cards include the ones from Amazon, Visa, Walmart, Target, and iTunes. Some popular restaurant gift cards include the ones from Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Chipotle. Also, the gift cards from Nordstorm, Nike, and Kohl's are among the most popular among fashion-minded people.

9) Wall of Fame

  • Wall of Fame acts as one of the most exciting incentives for the sales representatives, as their hard work and good performance are publicly recognized and appreciated with this contest. As part of this incentive, employers can create and dedicate a beautifully decorated wall to put up the photos of the winners of the weekly or monthly sales targets, along with their names and designations.
  • Apart from recognizing the top sales representatives, such leader boards also assist in motivating the other representatives to boost their performance. By displaying everyone’s current performance, people who are lagging are motivated to improve, and the high performers are motivated to informally compete against one another to bag the top position. Hence, it creates an environment of healthy competition within the organization.
  • Employers can also consider naming a room or the main conference hall in the office after the name of the top sales representative for a week or a month. The representatives will take pride in having their names on the doors of the rooms in the office.

10) Fine Dining Experience

  • An incentive in the form of a fine dining experience at a popular restaurant that's difficult to get into acts as a great incentive to recognize the efforts and achievements of the sales team or an individual sales representative.
  • This type of incentive can be really powerful because it comes with a prize and the memory that’s attached. Unlike cash or a gift card that will be spent and forgotten, the experience is likely to have a more lasting impact on the representatives.
  • To make the incentive more effective, companies should make sure to take the representative’s inputs and opinions beforehand on different restaurant options so that everyone’s tastes and preferences are accommodated. In certain cases, companies can also consider delivering the prize as a gift card so that the winner can go alone or with a loved one.

11) Activity-based Rewards

  • According to a study from the Incentive Research Foundation, activity-based incentives such as hiking and extreme sports are the most appreciated incentives amongst millennials. This is primarily because millennial employees want to have unforgettable experiences that they can remember for a lifetime.
  • Companies can consider offering their sales representatives, especially the ones belonging to the millennial age group, some adventure based incentives like rock climbing, skydiving, bungee jumping, zipline, and escape rooms, among others.
  • Employers can also consider gifting their salespeople unforgettable online experiences that they can cherish for a long time. For example, Airbnb now offers many online experiences, such as cocktail making at home, magic shows, cooking classes, scavenger hunts, online escape rooms, dance classes, private concerts, and more.

12) Extra Paid-Time-Off

  • Another way for the companies to incentivize the performance of their sales representatives is to provide them with extra paid-time-off. This allows the representatives to have a healthy work-life balance, spend more time with their families amidst a hectic work schedule, and get ample time to rewind and recharge themselves for the next phase.
  • The various PTO sales incentives that companies can consider include extra vacation days for the current year, more vacation days for next year, additional PTO hours to use at any time during employment, and more paid sick days. Additionally, it will greatly motivate the sales reps if they are offered an extra day off during the week for all the additional hours they’ve put in at work to achieve their sales targets.
  • The importance of extra PTO as an incentive can be gauged from the fact that 58% of workers would agree to a salary reduction if they could get extra vacation time. Additional time off is also extremely effective in helping with rising employee burnout and disconnection.

13) Spa Day or Massage

  • Offering a relaxing day of self-care after a long month or week of hard work to the sales representatives as an incentive can be extremely rewarding and motivating. Self-care incentives are opportunities for the top performers to relax and rejuvenate themselves after an extended period of hard work.
  • Such incentives are especially desirable after a particularly stressful quarter and allow the representatives to come back refreshed and ready for another month of hard work.
  • Some self-care incentives that companies can consider offering include spa days or massages, flotation therapy, pedicures or manicures, salon appointments, facials, massages, and acupuncture, among others.
  • Alternatively, companies can also offer engaging activities like a round of golf to help sales personnel rejuvenate and rewind themselves.

14) Recognition in the Company

  • According to a study from the American Psychological Association, nearly 44% of workers are not satisfied with the recognition they receive from their employer. Also, up to 50% of workers who received an incentive at work are more focused on how the reward is presented to them than on the reward itself. These data points underline the importance of incentivizing the sales representatives by providing them recognition in the company.
  • As per data from Human Resources Today, nearly 69% percent of the employees cite recognition and rewards programs as a motivation to stay at their current job. Also, organizations that have efficient employee recognition systems are 41% more likely to see increased employee retention and 34% more likely to increase employee engagement.
  • Companies can consider implementing recognition into their incentive program with offerings such as a lunch with the CEO of the company, specific praise in the company's Slack channel, a cameo video from their favorite celebrity that is shared with the team, etc. Additionally, the top management can also acknowledge the top performers and rising stars, either face-to-face, by email, or in company meetings. This can be done in conjunction with the monthly awards for even better results.
  • Employers can also consider creating a team trophy and rotating it around every few weeks to team members in the sales team who do a particularly good job. The same can be offered to anyone who goes above and beyond the call of duty rather than specifically the top performers. Such an activity can be incorporated as a regular part of the weekly meetings.
  • Additionally, companies can organize a monthly or quarterly awards event that showcases the efforts of sales representatives who continually excel in their field. Also, peer-nominated awards can be included to show off the employees who consistently show leadership and help their colleagues.

15) Leadership Opportunities

  • Another creative way in which employers can reward and provide non-cash sales incentives to their sales representatives is by offering them leadership opportunities within the organization.
  • In the absence of any open leadership opportunities within the organization, managers can hand over or delegate one or two of their own responsibilities to high performers on the team. This might involve giving them a section of the sales meetings to run or asking them to train new members of the team.
  • However, the management needs to careful in positioning this as an incentive for the impressive job that the sales representative has done rather than more work for the same salary. Managers can communicate to the representatives that they are being looked upon as future leaders due to their outstanding performance and the currently provided leadership opportunity is a way to enrich their resumes and prepare them to take up higher responsibilities. This would motivate the representatives and provide them with a clear vision of their future growth in the company.

16) One-On-One Time With the Management

  • Dedicated or personal time with the company's management is considered to be one of the best and most effective forms of non-monetary compensation. Having one-on-one time with supervisors, managers, or other leaders in the company, can act as a key incentive for many employees looking to get ahead in the workplace.
  • According to a survey, employees who had more time with managers or felt like they could approach managers at any time were more engaged than employees who ignored or were ignored by their managers (55% vs 8%).
  • Managers can spend quality time with the top sales representatives discussing their short-term and long-term goals as well as how management can better help them reach their objectives. They can also discuss with them any workplace issues or lack of opportunities that representatives are facing. This individual attention provided to the employees outside the traditional appraisal cycle has been found to make them more loyal and also provide them a feeling that their goals are supported by the top management.
  • Such personal meetings also help in creating long-term relationships with employees and make them feel truly valued. They encourage happiness and growth in the employee as well as the entire organization. As per data by Brazen, 86% of highly engaged organizations conduct one-on-one meetings between managers and employees. Also, 52% of the employees opine that leaders who do not make time to meet their employees are less effective. Hence, occasional personal meetings with top sales representatives about their goals and concerns can act as a great non-cash incentive.

17) Professional Development & Learning Opportunities

  • Personal and professional development can act as a powerful motivator for representatives who are eager to improve themselves. Currently, according to the American Psychological Association, only 44% of US employees are satisfied with the development opportunities that they are offered at work, and hence employers can leverage them as an incentive to offer to their salespeople.
  • These professional development incentives can be in the form of special sales training from a professional coach, tickets to an upcoming conference or sales event, sales courses to develop advanced techniques, and workshops, training, and guides to make better use of sales tech, such as CRM training, and making them attend big conferences like SaaStr or OutBound, where they can network with the industry pioneers and thought leaders they admire, etc.
  • Some personal development incentives that can appeal to the representatives include cooking classes, art classes, one month of a fitness class membership, access to an online course website, such as MasterClass, etc.
  • Additionally, online learning courses are great incentives for representatives looking to grow their careers or expand their knowledge base. They can also serve as training for top performers looking to move up in the company. Some examples of these courses include language classes, online college courses, private lesson plans (not affiliated with any colleges), and full courses for professionals, created by industry experts.
  • Tuition reimbursement is yet another incentive that employers can consider providing their sales representatives. As per data from EdAssist, "79% of employees say that tuition assistance is an important or very important factor in joining a company, and employees who participated in Cigna’s tuition assistance program were 10% more likely to be promoted and 8% more likely to stay with the company." The management can make it a point to congratulate employees on completing educational milestones, such as getting a new certification or graduating in their Master's program, with team-signed digital cards and public recognition of their achievements.

18) Team Social Events

  • Team social events are a great way to incentivize and celebrate the performance of the entire sales team along with an individual. Such events are essential for team bonding and building camaraderie.
  • These social events can vary from outside events such as an office party, an expensive dinner, afternoon hiking, or a hangout at the neighborhood bar to in-office events like a masseuse coming into the office, catered lunch, cake, and other desserts, or a fun activity for one afternoon.
  • Employers must ensure that a clear target is set each month for the sales team and the associated incentives on surpassing the set targets are also clearly communicated to the sales representatives.

Research Strategy

While we were able to successfully find ample information regarding the non-cash sales incentives that can be offered to the representatives, the data specific to the B2B and manufacturing industries could not be located in the public domain. To search for the information, we began by scouring through the industry reports from Deloitte, Mckinsey, Accenture, Market Radar, Forrester Research, and Business Wire, among others. Next, we searched through the media articles from Forbes, WSJ, Bloomberg, Reuters, PR Newswire, Business Times, Statista, etc., and B2B and HR-related blogs such as Cooper, SalesForce Search, Business to Community, and Referal Rock, among others. We also looked for any surveys on non-cash incentives in the B2B or manufacturing industries from Statista, Pew Research, Nielsen, etc. However, after an exhaustive search through the above-mentioned sources, we were unable to find any non-cash sales incentives carved out for the B2B or manufacturing industries specifically. All the data found was for the industries in general but can be applied to the above industries as well. Hence, we have included these incentives as part of our findings above.

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