Recognition for Sales Reps – Simple Ideas that Create Strong Teams

Almost every sales team recognizes it’s top performers by revenue or quota attainment. We have stack rankings, leaderboards, President’s Club, and “Rep of the quarter/year” awards. Today, I want to talk about recognition for the other things our reps do that make our jobs, our teams, and our companies better.

As I discussed before, it’s critically important that I catch my employees doing something good and acknowledge these things on the sales floor, during 1-on-1s, and in team meetings.

It’s easy to fall into the management trap of addressing problems and providing instructive criticism when working with sales reps. In my early management years, I’ll bet most of my reps dreaded having conversations with me since I focused on what the rep needed to do better.

I’ve since learned that recognizing when a rep does something right makes a huge contribution to building a team of All Stars.

A mentor once explained to me that every good manager needs to build emotional capital with his reps. He said that you earn your reps’ trust over time by doing things like giving recognition, thanking them for their efforts, and having their backs. Then when the time comes that you have to ask your reps to do something difficult, they will give you 150% if you’ve built enough emotional capital with them.

But that’s not really the reason I try to catch my employees doing going things and recognizing them. I do this because it makes me feel good and it makes our team better. When I help promote a strong team culture through efforts like this, getting back 150% effort is a given.


Ways to Catch Reps Doing Good Things

  • Be on the sales floor during calling times. Call out when someone does a great pitch, high five someone who crushes an objective. Take note of when a rep handles an irate prospect with humor.
  • Listen to sales calls live or recorded. You’re bound to hear good pitches, hooks, investigations, trial closes, and more.
  • Thank your reps often, both privately and publicly.  Why wouldn’t you? I appreciate when I never have to remind a rep to show up on time, when a rep works late to help solve a problem, and when a rep blows past quota and carries the team.
  • Include Upper Management when Recognizing Your Reps. This is a frequently overlooked motivation builder. Reps usually do not get to interact with senior management much. So when my rep goes the extra mile, I’ll make sure I email him to thank him and will copy my boss, my boss’s boss, and other Execs.  Upper management usually knows how to handle this perfectly. They will send a note to the rep thanking him for his effort and accomplishments. It’s also a method to provide your rep with positive exposure to upper management – which can be invaluable for his career development. Many reps have told me how much they appreciate this.

Sometimes all it takes is a simple email or a brief conversation to make a rep’s day.


The Weekly “Insiders Only” Team Award. Teams love these. The winner gets bragging rights for the week and a token “award”. I can assure you they tell their friends. parents, and spouses when they win. As cheesy as they can be (and the cheesier the better sometimes), I cannot count how many times a winner has come to see me to tell me how much they were motivated to win this award.


Here are some examples of “Insider Only” Awards that we used on my teams.


The Coveted Knight in Shining Armor Award.  The Knight was a small statue I brought into my office as a decoration. Each week, I selected on rep on my team for going above and beyond that in the previous week. We’d recognize the winner with his very own custom slide during our weekly sales team meeting. Then he was allowed to keep the Knight in Shining Armor Statue at his desk for the entire week. Believe it or not, I’ve seen references to the Knight in Shining Armor award show up on Resumes, LinkedIn pages, and presentations. Below are 3 examples. Be sure to take note of my highly skilled photo editing work for the slides.


The B.A.M.F.  If you don’t recognize this acronym, google it from a non-work computer. The BAMF was a weekly award that was already in place when I joined a division as it’s sales leader. Sometimes it was awarded to the top sales rep that week. But we also used it to recognize other extraordinary efforts. BAMFs were nominated and a winner selected by our team of sales managers each week.

The BAMF got a Reserved Parking Space, a BAMF sign hung over his desk, a shout out in the Monday sales team meeting, and his photo published in our Weekly Newsletter.

While our sales reps loved to win the BAMF, the ones I remember most were those awarded to someone from another team. One went to our Telecom guy after he migrated our phone system supporting our high-volume cold callers to a new location over the weekend without a hitch. Another went to our IT support tech who somehow managed to setup an entire team with PCs when we had a new team of employees start and had forgotten to give him advance notice.

When someone from outside the sales team won, they made a point to come to thank me for the recognition and tell me how meaningful it was. Frequently his boss would even thank me saying it meant a lot to have someone from his team recognized.

Go figure – sometimes it’s the simple things that sometimes have the greatest impact.

 Other Awards I’ve seen used effectively included Burger King Crowns, Ugly Baby Pendants, Stuffed Animals, and even a Can of Tuna.


What’s Next?

If you aren’t regularly catching your reps doing something good or you don’t have a Weekly Insiders Only Award program set it’s time to get started. All it takes is a little effort on your part.

You are only limited by your creativity and imagination.


If you want some help building your sales team or improving sales, contact me here. I’d love to hear from you. 


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