A Millennial-Friendly Guide To Sales Incentives

6 min read · 6 years ago


Great sales incentives don’t just reward top performers. They capture the imagination, instill loyalty and benefit overall company culture. Here are 3 new types of Millennial-approved sales incentives.

The best sales incentive ideas are ones that will make a lasting impact.

As we previously discussed here on the Ambition Blog with BlueBoard CEO Taylor Smith, today’s rising crop of Millennial sales professionals are looking for a different kind of sales incentive. One that goes beyond Amazon gift cards, hefty checks or flat screen TVs.

Studies indicate that Gen-Y members possess fundamentally different values than their Gen-X and Baby Boomer predecessors. And as a sales leader, it’s important that you adapt your sales incentives for top performers accordingly.

The value of cultivating loyalty in your top-performing Millennials is paramount, given that they belong to the most mercenary generation in the history of the workforce. Here are three novel approaches to keeping them loyal, via sales incentives.

3 Sales Incentive Ideas Fit For Millennials

The three sales incentive ideas we’re about to cover aren’t so much singular, specific incentives as they are broad types of incentives. Each sales organization is different, and we’ll leave it up to you to find the right specific incentive that fits within your company culture.

That being said, the goal here is to point you in the right direction when it comes to selecting a specific incentive to motivate your team and reward high performance.

The three types of sales incentives covered here today are as follows:

  • Experiential Sales Incentives
  • Networking Sales Incentives
  • Legacy Sales Incentives

If you’re giving out a major sales incentive every quarter, I’d recommend using one of each type of sales incentive, along with an old-fashioned cash incentive, in a fiscal year.

Then, at the end of the review, poll your sales team and figure out which incentives were the most enticing, and which ones didn’t register as strongly. Going forward, you can then tailor your future sales incentives to those most preferred by your team.

Sales Incentive Idea #1. Experiential Incentive

Our first sales incentive idea is one espoused by both Taylor Smith, whose company, BlueBoard, specializes in providing unique, compelling and impactful performance incentives to major organizations. It’s also a favorite of billionaire investor and mogul Mark Cuban.

A quote from Cuban that illuminates what this incentive is all about:

“I think the next generation of entertainment is experiential, where people go out of the house and go and get a unique experience.” 

What Cuban is talking about, in other words, is experiential entertainment. A hot air balloon ride. A tour of NAPA valley. A stay at an acclaimed resort or cool nature lodge.

These are the things that, studies prove, Millennials are valuing more than material items, such as consumer electronics, expensive cars, and similar luxury items valued by generations past.

How much so? Smith has launched an entire company on the idea. Meanwhile, Cuban has put his money where his mouth is, investing in a Boston-based startup called Rugged Races and doubling down on his belief in the growth of experiential entertainment.

Experiential incentives are exciting, different, take users out of their comfort zone, give them a broader view of the outside world and offer once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

It’s part of the reason we advocate that sales leaders in a pro sports town offer playoffs tickets as a sales contest incentive. Not everyone may be excited by it, but the goal is to invigorate a majority of your sales force, while offering the winner an opportunity to have a truly memorable experience (such as Game 7 victory over a hated rival).

It’s the reason we gamified the 2015 AA-ISP Leadership Conference and chose a trip to St. Maarten’s as the prize. People responded.

Bottom line: Invest in a reasonable experiential incentive for your next sales contest (GroupOn is a great resource), and see how your people respond.

Sales Incentive Idea #2. Leadership Incentive

Contrary to popular belief, Millennials are actually highly competitive members of the workforce. They’re born overachievers who would rather be viewed as a leader, rather than a cog in the corporate machine.

Incentivizing Millennials with leadership opportunities, counter-intuitive as it may seem, is actually a great way to motivate them. Reward them with more responsibility? You bet.

We executed this exact strategy in our sales organization here at Ambition. At the beginning of March, we announced that there were two slots open to represent Ambition at AA-ISP’s Leadership Conference in Chicago.

How the two representatives would be decided: Whoever had the highest Ambition Scores at the end of the month.

Bear in mind, the winners of this contest effectively won a trip to go develop new business opportunities at a conference 12 hours away with our CSO. The annual AA-ISP Leadership Conference, as prestigious and invigorating an event as it is, also meant more stress, time away from home and, for lack of a better word, work for the winners.

What happened? Our sales team fought over the two spots tooth and nail. The very last day of the contest, our newest SDR Gentry Smith stayed extra late to ensure a Top 2 Ambition Score finish and secure a trip to Chicago.

End result: Our CSO tweeting admiration of Gentry celebrating a new prospect acquisition with  “success push-ups” in front of our Conference booth.

Feedback from Gentry and fellow winner/conference attendee Noah — “We can’t wait to go back next year…and we wish we could drink on the company’s tab more often.”

Giving an opportunity to show leadership and showcase one’s initiative and talent in a big moment can be a powerful motivator for your top Millennial sales reps.

It also sets a powerful, positive tone that your sales organization seeks out and recognizes its top performers, making sure that they get first crack at demonstrating big-time leadership.

Sales Incentive Idea #3. Legacy Incentive

Trophies, ribbons and medals are for Youth Soccer Leagues. Here’s how you create a legacy incentive for an adult member of your sales force:

Championship Banner for the Office. Price: $60 on Banners.com.

The above banner went to ClearSlide, who won our 1st Annual March SaaSness event behind a major get-out-the-vote effort from their workforce.

Many companies get the value of legacy sales incentives, they just don’t get how to do legacy sales incentives the right way.

Trophies evoke being a member of a 6th grade Little League team. Championship Banners evoke being a member of the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls.

If you’re going to do a trophy, may I suggest going big with an epic, Stanley Cup-style trophy that commemorates winners from years past and is granted with permission to take off-premises for a week’s time.

Done right, a legacy sales incentive appeals to Millennials by making their recipients a part of a sales organization’s legacy. These incentives are also a favorite of mine because they build company culture, increase in impactful-ness over time, and can eventually become a unique, compelling part of company lore.

Create you sales org’s version of a Hall of Fame, a Championship Banner, a Sales Cup Trophy — whatever it is, just make sure to go all out with it. You’ll earn continuing dividends down the road from this particular sales incentive that far exceed any other.

Sales Incentive Ideas For Your Millennial Workforce

As the mercenary-minded Millennial sales force continues to grow, it will only become more paramount that you reward top performers with well-thought out sales incentives that truly cultivate loyalty.

Making unique, big-time sales incentives a part of your sales organization’s culture is a great way to do so. All of the above options are as cheap, if not cheaper, than what you’re probably already spending.

So throw out your gift cards, get creative, and look for rewards that will simultaneously motivate high performance and impact long-term company culture. If you’re going to incentive sales performance, make sure you’re getting maximum value out of the time and money you spend.

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: A Millennial-Friendly Guide To Sales Incentives

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