Use Employee Recognition to Elevate Your Sales Team

Written by Josh Hirsch Posted on May 17, 2022 In

Employee-recognition programs identify top performers, boost effort, and improve retention

Key takeaways:

  • Acknowledge big and small achievements 
  • Post a leaderboard
  • Recognize the best of the best with award shows, brochures, or displays
  • Leverage low or no-cost rewards like premier parking or Fridays off
  • Customize employee recognition efforts to match salespeople's personalities
  • Interview top performers and turn their answers into training materials and content
  • Set team goals with awards
  • Offer career-development opportunities

Your sales team is critical to the growth and success of your business, but creating a high-quality team doesn't start and end with recruitment and hiring. It's a constant process that involves developing, supporting, and recognizing current team members. 

Your top performers deliver results, exceed expectations, and reflect your brand. If you don't value them and recognize their contributions to the company, you risk losing them to the competition or, even worse, to complacency. By shining a light on top performers, you also provide inspiring mentors for the rest of your team. 

Appreciation from the leadership team makes your employees feel seen and inspires them to work harder. How should you recognize your top players? Great pay and a competitive commission structure create the foundation, but to make your employees feel valued, you need employee-recognition programs. Consider these ideas.

1. Acknowledge achievements

Acknowledge both big and small accomplishments. Let your employees know that you appreciate their efforts. Reach out with thoughtful, handwritten notes, or give them public recognition by complimenting them in front of other employees. 

When acknowledging accomplishments, give praise for successes. But, also recognize what goes well when deals fall through. By highlighting someone's strengths in adverse situations, you help them see where they did well, and how they can improve in the future.

2. Post a leaderboard

Whether you're running a sales contest or just tracking monthly sales goals, a leaderboard leverages positive peer pressure and encourages performance. Salespeople are naturally competitive; they're driven by the thrill of the hunt and the satisfaction of the kill. Leaderboards capitalize on their ambitious nature. When they see their peers' successes, they will try harder to achieve their own. 

3. Recognize the best of the best

Beyond the leaderboard, implement other programs that celebrate your top performers. You may want to create a wall that highlights the Salesperson of the Month, or make it more formal by printing an annual book or brochure that identifies top performers. 

Awards shows also recognize star players. In this format, you can focus on different types of success. Who closed the most deals? Brought in the highest-value customer? Did the best at retaining existing customers? Be creative; recognize a broad range of achievements. 

4. Leverage low- or no-cost rewards

Rewarding your employees doesn't always require a big price tag. People enjoy simple no- or low-cost employee-recognition rewards. Consider premier parking, special lunches, or flexible schedules to reward top performers. Small perks can promote a better work-life balance for your sales team. If selected carefully, they sometimes motivate more effectively than commissions. 

5. Customize employee recognition efforts

Different things motivate different people. Some people love public recognition, while others prefer a discrete thank-you note. Some people love fun team-building adventures, while others prefer a Friday afternoon away from the team. Some people need extra affection to rise to the occasion, while others thrive on tough love. 

Get to know your sales team. Find out what makes them tick. Pay attention to how they respond to different rewards and programs. Then, customize your employee-recognition efforts to match their unique personalities. 

6. Interview top performers 

Spend some time interviewing your high achievers. Find out what makes them succeed. Ask about how they respond to common objectives or surpass sales hurdles. 

An interview recognizes your top performers. It says, “I see you're doing well, and I want to know more about your process.” It can also help motivate and train lower-performing sales reps. 

You may want to consider recording the interview as a podcast. Then, transcribe the transcript and use it as a jumping-off point to create content. You can turn an interview into a "day in the life" blog used to attract new talent. Or, you could also turn it into website content, a newsletter, a social-media post, or any other content that draws new sales prospects to your business. 

7. Set team goals.

In addition to praising top performers, recognize your team. Team goals encourage collaboration. Your stars will start mentoring lower performers to help the team succeed. 

At the same time, lower performers will be motivated; they need to be accountable to the team. Incorporate incentives that reward the whole team. Ideas may include catered lunches, team-building days, employee-recognition dinners, or bringing a masseuse into the office. 

8. Create career-development programs

Mentorships and development programs should not just serve new hires or those struggling to meet their goals. Even elite salespeople have room for improvement. 

Show your team that you care about their success. Create internal career-development or mentorship programs, or send them to external events that can help them up their sales game. To increase excitement, position these events as career-building opportunities, not mandatory training.

The tactics you use to get your business off the ground require innate sales skills. But the processes that attract investors and early adopters aren't the same methods you should use to build your business. To be a world-class sales team, you need guidance from people who've been there. 

At MetaGrowth, we help businesses develop scalable growth supported by a successful, world-class sales team. Ready to build your team? Contact us today. Let's start a conversation and help you identify the best path for growing your sales team -- and your business. 

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