As a salesperson, sales manager, or sales leader, you are probably well aware of your company’s formal structure for recognition.  Top sales people receive plaques, mention in newsletters, and trips to the beach.  Recognition in this form is an effective motivator, but it fails to do one key thing.  It fails to motivate middle performers.

When the year or quarter begins, everyone on the sales force can probably predict who the top performers will be.  These people will be recognized for their achievements, receive awards, and be effectively motivated to duplicate their efforts moving forward.  As a sales manager or sales leader, it is your job to move outside of the formal recognition structure and recognize all achievements big or small.

To be clear, I am not advocating that you coddle your salespeople or tell them they are doing great when they are not.  That is not an effective way to lead or motivate.  However, I am advocating that recognition be given to be people when they accomplish their goals or obtain achievements, even if they are not the person currently running at 150% of quota.

Some ideas for simple recognition outside of the formal recognition structure include:

  1. An email to congratulate someone for a sale.  If a specialist, engineer, or other sales support role was involved, attach them on the email and recognize their contribution as well.
  2. Take the salesperson to lunch.  Congratulate them on the achievement and use it as an opportunity to discuss their goals moving forward.
  3. Start meetings with recognition.  At the beginning of team meetings recognize people for their accomplishments in the previous week.  This will motivate the salesperson and give them an opportunity to share why they were successful.  A powerful combination of recognition and best practice sharing.
  4. Pass the recognition up the chain.  If you manage a team of 5 and one of your salespeople has achieved a goal, recognize the achievement by passing on the news to your superior.  The superior can congratulate the salesperson the next time they see them.

Incorporating these recognition tactics into your work environment can be a powerful motivator for your sales force, especially for the people who rarely receive recognition through formal channels.  Investing in these ideas requires minimal effort and the return can be substantial.

Where Formal Recognition Falls Short in Sales Organizations