I was recently looking at some EcSELL Institute data that examined the different needs of more tenured vs. less experienced sales reps. We asked the reps to rate the importance of their managers being strong in different skillsets. And across nearly all the different categories from coaching to leadership to planning, the more tenured reps rated their managers’ skills as less important than the less experienced reps, save for one category: recognizing and rewarding achievements. This means that all your reps, even those that have been around the block a few times, find the recognition you give them to be one of the most important things you do as their leader.
Obviously large forms of recognition and reward, such as bonuses, trips, etc. are defined on a sales department level and the parameters for earning them are often laid out at the beginning of the fiscal year. But there are numerous things that a sales manager can do that are just as and perhaps even more meaningful than some of these larger, more costly awards. Here are some of my favorite “free” ways to recognize and reward sales reps:
- · Handwritten notes – In the era of email and text message, it is rare to get a handwritten note. This is why they stand out. Plus, they are more likely to be publicly displayed or saved by your reps. Next time your rep has a good success, skip the “kudos” email and take a few extra minutes to write them a note.
- · Favorite candy bar/treat – Okay, so technically this isn’t free, but it won’t cost you more than a buck or two. Giving the rep their favorite candy bar or treat is a fun way to recognize them for more minor achievements. I know a manager that used to do this and when we’d walk by somebody’s desk with a candy bar on it, we would know they did something well. Plus, it showed that the manager took notice of what his team liked. The fact that he bothered to learn their favorite candy bar showed he cared.
- · Recognition letters sent to loved ones – This is probably my favorite “free” form of recognition. For big achievements, such as leading the year-end sales numbers, take 20-30 minutes and write a letter to the loved ones of your rep that details their achievement. Of any form of recognition I’ve done over the years, I’ve received more positive comments from sending letters to husbands, wives, parents and children of my team members than from any other form of recognition I’ve ever done. Nobody is more important to your reps than their loved ones, so sharing your reps’ success with them is extremely meaningful.