In Glengarry Glen Ross — arguably the most prominent, important film about sales ever made — four real estate salespeople are pitted against each other in a weeklong competition.

The contest's incentive structure is steep and high-stakes. First place is a new Cadillac Eldorado. Second place is a set of steak knives. And third place is, "You're fired."

Now, your sales reps probably don't need to be motivated quite as harshly. I would go out on a limb and guess that most sales orgs won't benefit from holding contests where both a new car and everyone's livelihood are on the line. But there's still something to be said about the power of using awards as motivators in sales.

Incentivizing reps with rewards — whether they're flashy, practical, entertaining, or prestigious — can kick your team's overall efforts up a notch. Here are some of the most effective ways to make that happen.

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1. Cash Bonuses

Monetary incentives are probably the most straightforward award you can offer to whip your sales reps into shape. Responding well to cash bonuses is a near-universal constant among sales reps. Successful sales efforts often rest on money motivation — above all else — so, naturally, there's something to be said for the value of using money as a motivator.

2. New Gadgets

Most consumers love flashy new gadgets — that's why people camp outside of Apple stores for every new product it releases. People find new tech exciting, and sales reps are no exception. The latest iPhone, a new laptop, or any other fresh electronic commodity can be a powerful incentive to get more out of your team.

3. Professional Development Opportunities

This one is a win-win for both your sales org and the reps who win your competition. Many reps are looking for opportunities to bolster their sales skills and set themselves up for smoother professional development.

If you offer your exemplary salespeople incentives like tickets to sales seminars or tuition reimbursement for relevant continuing education classes, you can drum up and sustain some serious effort from your team.

4. Personal Development Incentives

Personal development is another powerful motivator for sales reps. Who doesn't want to be their best self? Incentives like gym memberships, cooking classes, or second language programs can push reps to perform at work and improve their personal wellbeing.

5. Vacations

A company-covered vacation is one of the most traditional awards for exceptional salespeople. People love being able to take some time off for themselves or their families, and being able to do that on the company's dollar makes it that much sweeter and worth extra effort.

6. Additional Vacation Time

If you can't spring for a full-on vacation for your highest-performing sales reps, you can help them out by giving them a little extra PTO. The salespeople who work the hardest should be rewarded with some additional time to rest. Plus, you won't have to spend too much to make this one possible.

7. Entertainment Tickets

Is there a big concert coming to town sometime soon? Or a blockbuster movie about to hit theaters? People respond to experiences like those, so offering some tickets or passes to see them firsthand might be an effective way to get your reps fired up.

8. Celebratory Dinners

Incentivizing reps with some fine dining can be an effective avenue for boosting your org's collective performance. Everyone enjoys a good meal with all the fixings. Being willing to take your most exceptional reps out for one can set get the whole team working that much harder.

9. A Prime Parking Spot

This one can be a big-time motivator for larger businesses with bigger offices. If it takes a long trek to get from your company garage to the building itself — particularly without reserved spaces — a guaranteed spot, right out front, can be a powerful incentive.

10. "The President's Club"

A "President's Club" trip is an interesting incentive. It's a group-oriented extension of the "vacation" point on this list — a trip for a broader base of your highest performers.

It also comes with a certain level of prestige that other points on this list don't. Making your organization's "President's Club" can be an impressive resume booster for your top reps, and tacking on a trophy or plaque can be an enticing prospect for your team.

Your best-performing sales reps deserve some sort of recognition and tokens of your appreciation. Offering awards can do just that. Be they tangible and immediate or more abstract and prestige-based, providing these kinds of incentives is one of the better ways to get some extra effort and dedication out of your team.

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Originally published Nov 16, 2020 8:30:00 AM, updated November 16 2020

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How to Motivate a Sales Team