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incentivizing sales teams

Incentivizing Sales Teams Beyond Commission

We’ve been thinking a lot here at Bowery Capital about what works and what does not as it relates to incentivizing sales teams. Commission checks reign supreme, but sometimes, believe it or not sellers want more than that, and it can cost you less. Here are some ideas from our Acceleration Team to incentivize sellers, boost morale, increase productivity, and simply have fun within your sales organization.

1. Surprise & Delight Budgets.  For every sales employee, most people set aside budget for ongoing training, company gear, and other (somewhat silly) things. Newly onboarded sales people get this when they’re hired, and statistics have shown that they never use it at all. That budget goes to waste or is unappreciated most times. Alternatively, create a “Surprise & Delight” budget, only known to you and the other executives at the company.  If one of your reps is really killing it by putting in long nights and going the extra mile, get them a gift certificate to dinner at their favorite restaurant for them and a significant other. Don’t announce it in front of the whole team or anything like that either. It is totally unexpected, thoughtful, and therefore the $200 you’d spend makes for a much more memorable impact to someone who is in a profession that currently experiences one of the highest turnover rates out there.

2. Gamification With “Team vs Team” Competitions. At one of our portfolio companies, the executives split the AE’s into two teams each quarter. You develop a points system and have them compete throughout the quarter. The winning team gets to go out for dinner or to a fun activity with just their group. Taking this further, you could create different levels of “wins.” If the team won and hit the first tier of revenue, it was an event like bowling. If they won and hit the second tier, it was dinner at a steakhouse. You can take this to the extreme by building in something like a President’s Club if you really want to at both the individual and team level. You get the idea and this remains one of the easiest ways to create some fun activities through incentivizing sales teams.

3. Winners Want The Trophy!  This is simply a badge of honor. At the end of the day people love to see a trophy or an award for their achievement. Most times, it costs you all of $25. However, it rallies the team around something other than commission checks.  Make it fun, and something they can keep on their desk.  Keep it tongue in cheek!

4. Promotions. There is always this approach. If a certain member of the team hits their number and shows promise in helping others out and coaching, they should be up for a promotion.  As we’ve written recently here, promotions can’t simply be based on “who has been around the longest” or even simply who has hit their own number, but failed to help others.  Create meaningful milestones on this front, and incentivize your team to achieve those with a promotion as the carrot.

If you liked “Incentivizing Sales Teams Beyond Commission” and want to read more content from the Bowery Capital Team, check out other relevant posts from the Bowery Capital Blog.

Andrew Oddo
Andrew Oddo
Andrew is the former Director of Growth at Bowery Capital based in New York. He is currently a Director at Silicon Valley Bank. Prior to joining Bowery Capital, Andrew was the Director of Sales at CrowdTangle where he scaled sales and operations leading up to their acquisition by Facebook in 2016. Previously Andrew was at Chartbeat as a sales engineer and strategic account executive, growing relationships with clients like the BBC, Gannett, and NY Times. Andrew concentrated in marketing and finance as an undergrad at Boston College.
Michael Brown
Michael Brown
Michael is a Founder & Managing Partner at Bowery Capital based in New York. Prior to Bowery Capital, Brown was a Co-Founder and General Partner at AOL Ventures. Before AOL Ventures, Brown worked for the investment arm of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. He began his career at Morgan Stanley as an equity research analyst. Outside of his professional life, Brown serves on the Board of Directors of the National Forest Foundation and the Columbia College Alumni Association. He holds a B.A. from Columbia University.