Creative Sales Incentives for Startup Budgets


Most startups don’t have a lot of money to throw around.  Most startups are also sales driven organizations – they need to be to survive and thrive.  How then do you offer the incentives and rewards that most sales people yearn for.  It’s a fine line that sales leaders at startups walk.  Below are some ideas and points to consider.

Incentive Ideas

Time off – give em a half day, give em a full day.  If they are working typical startup hours, they probably deserve it.

Office/Desk gadgets, toys, games, etc –  You might not think that a ping pong table for the office would push people and drive behaviors.  Try it… I promise people will bust a$$ to hit metrics.  From my experience, chair massagers, beanbag chairs, stand up desk converters, cube art, etc. can all be motivational rewards as well.

Work from home day – if you don’t have a work from home policy, this could be a motivational reward.

Incentives to drive CRM Behavior

Sales people have always and will always hate updating their CRM’s.  Some may recall the famous quote that reads, “Should I do SalesForce updates, or stab my eyes out with a fork?  Decisions, decisions….”

I use Level11 ( to drive CRM behaviors.  It’s a great tool and keeps CRM contests top of mind.  A side bar smacks them in the face every time they log into Hireology as they see who is the current leader.  The critical fields that we need to have filled out in SalesForce are now miraculously complete since an incentive is linked to that behavior.

Make contests visible and top of mind

Do you have a leaderboard present?  Does each person on your sales team know where they rank every day?  This is a critical component.  The contest, ranking and reward needs to be top of mind.  To drive positive behaviors, reinforce the contest and reward daily.

Experience driven incentives

With a limited budget, things like cash, electronics, watches, even gift cards are often out of reach when it comes to sales incentives.  Incentivizing teams or individuals with experiences is a great way to reward performance without breaking the bank.  Here a few:

Come as your coworker day, office pizza party, stock the bar party, beer tasting, team field trip, etc.

Keep Contests Consistent

At Hireology we run a monthly contests for the entire team and one for the top sales person.  Keeping the contest cycle consistent adds excitement to the close of one and the start of the next contest.

Ask Them

If you are having trouble coming up with creative incentives ask your team.  You will undoubtedly get some unrealistic rewards, but you will also get some great ideas.  Most importantly you don’t have to worry about the team not being motivated to hit the goal if they selected and truly are excited about the reward.


Photo credit: EcSell Institute


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