Despite businesses evolving and recognising how critical sales staff are to the success of a company the cliché: sales people are ‘coin operated’ is still bandied about (albeit with humour). And so too is the old adage that in order to motivate a sales team you simply need to pay them more.
While it’s fair to say that sales people are used to being rewarded and incentivised based on performance and yes this is often in the form of financial remuneration, in my experience a big pay packet is not top of the list of things that truly motivate sales teams.
In fact, a recent survey entitled Employee engagement: how British business measures up, discovered that despite adequate financial remuneration a staggering number of employees do not feel engaged at work, with 48% saying they were only moderately engaged, and 15pc claiming to have low – or even no – engagement. Indeed, the general consensus among business decision makers is that a motivated and engaged workforce doesn’t just improve staff retention, revenues, productivity and performance, but employees also miss less days through sickness and form closer bonds with clients and colleagues when engaged and motivated at work. Put simply, businesses that properly reward and incentivise their staff perform better.
If you attempt to motivate your sales team with money alone, while your business will still operate efficiently, you risk not embracing your full business potential or truly engaging your staff. Recognising your sales people’s value, providing a good work/life balance and rewarding and incentivising on a regular basis are just, if not more, effective and more likely to increase engagement.
The role of rewards and business culture
The benefits of effectively rewarding your staff - are well documented and researched. But less attention has been focused on the importance of how the employee experiences the business they work for and the implications creating a favourable culture has on engagement and motivational levels of sales people. Essentially it’s about creating an environment that is filled with a sales team that want to work for you versus simply needing to work. This includes focusing on organisational structure, leadership style and the rewards and benefits on offer.
Softer perks such as a simple thank you, experience days, incentive travel, away days and flexible working are gaining crucial momentum as valuable tools for businesses looking to create a positive culture which will greatly enhance the organisations ability to find, and retain vital talent. But most importantly these are the rewards that truly drive engagement in a modern day business.
When organisations offer their employees non-financial rewards, the reward becomes more memorable and its impact and ‘talkability’ extends well beyond the event itself, leading to increased staff engagement, higher levels of loyalty to employers and a genuine passion for the business.
The assumed barriers
Why then are so few sales orientated businesses operating reward and incentive programmes that reward their best workers through genuinely memorable, once-in-a-life-time rewards and incentives when there is a clear business case for them?
For some the ease of issuing a cash reward is a clear drawcard, but it can lack personal connection and memorability and has very little shelf-life once the money is spent. While others may find the process of implementing recognition programmes that include experiences, team building activities and events daunting and labour under the misapprehension that they are hard to set up and difficult to administer, with many citing the need for vast amounts of manpower and time as deterrents.
But the reality actually couldn’t be further from the truth, there are rewards and recognition solutions that provide increased flexibility and varied choice making it easy for employers to reward more personable incentives. Team building events, experience days, incentive travel rewards are just as easy to set up as cash rewards and can harvest even more engagement and team bonding than more traditional incentive schemes, which provides staff with the opportunity to form stronger relationships than you would throughout the traditional, nine-to-five working day.
These don’t always have to be expensive - that’s not the point. The crucial argument is that businesses depend on their employees, in particular their sales teams to drive the businesses forward and open new revenue opportunities that might otherwise have been missed and so they are extremely important to properly incentivise and ultimately enhance their performance. While everyone depends on their wage, it is not always money that we value and remember the most. It’s the little things, the things you didn’t expect that make life so rich.
If you invest in giving your employees excellent, rewarding and highly memorable rewards, as a business, you’ll not only see the benefit every morning when you walk through the door, you’ll see the difference in your books, too.