There are more effective ways to motivate your sales reps outside of a compensation plan than you might think. The problem with compensation plans and quarterly bonuses are that they are rewarded too late in the game and don’t make the right behaviors stick. Sales reps enjoy instant recognition for their achievements, competing to be #1 on the leaderboard, and feeling the connectedness of a team. By honing in on what matters to your sales reps, you can motivate the right behaviors to drive sales performance. Check out these 4 ways to get your team on track –  

1. Communicate your goals

Many managers will talk about hitting specific targets with their reps, but never actually reinforce the task. It’s easy to forget about things when they’re never heard of again. Reps may believe it isn’t an important issue when only mentioned once or discussed briefly. The McKinsey Global Institute found that companies can increase productivity by 20 to 25 percent in employees through better communication. A lot of opportunities can be missed when goals are unclear between managers and reps. Communication is a two-way street. While you may be great at communicating tasks at hand to your team, make sure you’re also listening and encourage feedback on the information. Reinforce your goals clearly and often. Set goals to increase communication with your team and diminish time wasted on emails. An easy way to maintain communication is opting for a quick Slack message instead. You can exchange instant messages to reps directly, or create a dedicated channel with your team for specific targets and have all your ideas in one place.  

2. Celebrate wins, big and small

When you’re only celebrating the end goal, you’ll never get the reinforcement you’re looking for. Reps don’t reach their end goals every single day, or every week for that matter. They can feel unmotivated to be the #1 closer when the only celebrations are for the top reps. The average rep will continue to stay the average rep. To keep your team motivated, celebrate their activity goals and performance progress along the way. According to the 2015 SHRM/Globoforce Survey, companies who have employee recognition programs in place saw an increase of 20% in business outcomes and a 50% boost in employee productivity. Companies can implement dynamic leaderboards to track key metrics that are going to have the biggest impact in the sales process and recognize reps in the moment as it happens. It’s important to focus on the activities and core metrics that really drive your business and celebrate your reps for these smaller milestones. When you celebrate more than just the end result, your reps will be more motivated in the sales process with the recognition they deserve. It’s the little things that count and ultimately create your success.  

3. Leverage competition

Healthy competition can help employees understand how they stand relative to their colleagues, and encourage the best performance from each individual. When the right balance of teamwork and healthy competition is implemented, everyone is motivated to work toward a bigger goal. According to Ashley Merryman, co-author of Top Dog: the Science of Winning and Losing, competition drives us to exceed expectations: “Whether professional musicians or school children, studies have shown competition fuels creativity and even improves the quality of the work produced. More than that, the skills that make you a great competitor – such as willingness to push boundaries, trust one’s instincts, and problem-solve – those are the same skills needed for innovation.” Merryman’s studies also show that 50% of people greatly benefit from competition. When we think of athletes, we think: self-motivated, team oriented, having desire to win. Putting this perspective into a salesperson, translate athleticism into teamwork. Get your team into the habit of challenging each other to friendly faceoffs and a race to reach #1 on the leaderboard.  

4. Build Connectedness

Feeling socially connected with your team can boost motivation and engagement. According to a study by Stanford Psychology Professor, Gregory Walton, those who feel more connected with their peers persisted 48 to 64 percent longer on a challenging task and reported greater interest and better performance in the task. It’s easy to feel unmotivated at work when you don’t feel connected to your peers. If you’re sitting in a cubicle, located away from your team, or work remotely, chances are interaction with your team is limited. So, how do you keep motivation across your team? Engage with your team through celebrating each other’s wins and initiating friendly competition. Let your peers know when you close a deal or if you finally booked a client meeting with the head honcho. Challenge your fellow sales rep across the map on an East Coast/West Coast battle to the top of the leaderboard. When you work toward a common goal with your team and celebrate accomplishments together, you can build a culture of connectedness that fuels motivation. Take the time to understand the dynamic of your team and what motivates them to perform their best. Whether it be giving them the proper recognition for their wins, revving up their competitive juices, or building connectedness across your team, it’s important clearly communicate your goals to drive better performance.