Dwindling growth has forced many companies to reassess the amount they spend on employee benefits.
Yet these cutbacks do not always pay off in the long term because they can significantly affect team motivation and productivity. Although cost reductions are sometimes unavoidable, employers must not lose sight of the need to incentivize. In fact, they need to be smarter and find new ways to motivate their employees, and especially their sales teams, who are more accustomed to financial bonuses.
Here are five tried-and-tested ways to motivate your sales people with a limited budget.
1. Focus on long-term compensation
Long-term incentives like profit sharing and stock options used to be reserved for senior management. Now, in a bid to overcome talent shortages, they are increasingly being offered as a bonus in hiring middle managers, especially for key sales positions, to attract and retain the best people.
This approach can also apply to co-option strategies: if the person recruited stays with the company long enough, the person who co-opted them will be rewarded with a bonus or extra day off, for example.
While employee engagement in co-opting grows in step with significant pay raises (€2,000 to €5,000), 80% of companies also use recognition in the form of vacations and other perks1.
2. Help your employees save
You may not be able to offer your sales reps big bonuses, but you can always give them benefits to make life easier and help them save money. The cost of the commute can take a big chunk out of an employee's annual budget for example. Covering part of these transport costs is an inexpensive way to secure loyalty, with measures such as prepaid "fuel cards" allowing traveling sales reps to avoid paying out of pocket and sparing them the laborious process of filing expense claims.
Restaurant vouchers, childcare vouchers, dry cleaning and legal or financial advice are other welcome ways to boost your employees' purchasing power. If you cannot increase their direct income, these measures can significantly offset the everyday expenses that put a strain on their finances. Don't overlook them!
3. Focus on work-life balance
Sales representatives have long work days. They're often on the move, on the phone or meeting customers outside of regular business hours. Yet they remain dedicated and love their job. A MedReps2survey of medical sales reps showed that 72% of them were satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs. However, while they love their work, their work-life balance is a different story. In the same survey, sales reps ranked work-life balance as one of the five worst things about their job.
According to the Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index Survey3, nearly 25% of employees in the secondary sector regularly work outside of normal hours and around 40% work on the weekend at least once a month. The percentage is even higher for sales reps. There are easy ways to help: give them more flexibility, restore balance in their hours, and make the most of new technology and working methods, such as telecommuting. Don't forget the little things: let them leave work earlier on a Friday, give them a day off on their birthday, etc.
4. Coach your staff
What's the key to boosting sales? A good sales manager!
What's the key to being a good sales manager? Being coached!
Coaching can increase sales performance by 17%, which is why it should be a priority: sales teams who use sales performance coaching have 161% more wins, 26% more pipelines and 19% fewer losses than teams who don't.4
A real coaching policy will ensure effective coaching for salespeople through the use of performance indicators and regular feedback, backed by values like recognition, collaboration and an ability to listen.
Nothing affects the engagement and financial performance of sales teams more than an effective coaching system!
5. Second that emotion
Some sales managers wait too long before celebrating their successes and those of their teams. Yet this is the best way to offset the strain of the job and reward successes such as wins and new contracts, no matter how small.
It is also better to offer your salespeople more unconventional benefits to create a lasting impression. For sales teams to feel appreciated, they need to feel special and deserving of exceptional benefits that reflect the values of the company and its internal culture: this helps to forge a bond between the company and its salespeople. Experiential rewards include trips, concerts and special events.
63% of higher-performing organizations show a clear preference for experiential rewards over financial ones5.
(Originally published on Sodexo.com)