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Perk Avenue

There are plenty of ways to motivate reps to stay on the path to success, even on a budget.

This story appears in the August 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Perks are a compelling way to encourage your staff to keep smiling and selling-a little way of saying "I appreciate your work" that goes beyond salary and benefits. "Pay and commissions are expected, but perks are special. Perks are tangible evidence the organization recognizes that an employee went above and beyond," says Lin Grensing-Pophal, author of Motivating Today's Employees (Self Counsel Press). Grensing-Pophal adds that perks "can help employees feel valued by their organizations, which, in turn, can lead to higher productivity, improved morale and loyalty." For smart, low-dough ways to show your sales force the love, keep these tips in mind:

  • One size does not fit all. When it comes to sales incentives, one person's perk may be another's pile o' junk. An ill-selected "perk"--for example, giving a steak-of-the-month subscription to a vegan--won't get the job done right. With a small sales force, there's really no excuse for not knowing the perks that will motivate your sales pros to keep moving. "One person might respond to fresh flowers, another to tickets to a sporting event, another to dinner with the boss," explains Grensing-Pophal. If you're clueless, poll your sales staff about what would really float their sales boat.
  • Let creativity flow. A sales rep may yawn over another pen or plaque but be thrilled by free movie tickets. "Allow your imagination to run wild," says John Naples, president and founder of sales training company Encore Consulting Group in Santee, California. "Avoid dull at all costs." Naples recommends offering monthly, quarterly and annual perks, starting with modest monthly perks and building up the "wow" factor in quarterly and annual perks.

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