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Now is the Perfect Time for Recognition and Reward Programs

People work for money but go the extra mile for recognition, praise, and rewards.”

-Dale Carnegie

Research shows that the number one motivator for sales people isn’t money, but recognition. After the many months of negativity and stress that most of us have gone through, now is the perfect time for you to introduce a fun and upbeat recognition and reward program.

These programs come in many shapes and sizes, so before we get too granular, let’s discuss what the purpose and goals are of this kind of a program. 

Related Blog: Guest Blogger: Top Mary Kay Manager Shares How to Create a Winning Culture With Recognition and Rewards

Recognition Goals:

  1. Create a fun workplace with high morale and fierce team spirit.
  2. Recognize and Reward the activities that a salesperson engages in that will create the correct sales habits leading to their long term success.
  3. Create loyalty for you and your company. Others may try to steal your top performers, but if they are successful, love their workplace, and feel appreciated, then these corporate poachers will be “whistling dixie”.  
  4. Increase sales by having the team focus on strategic areas that you would like to improve  such as selling more “Move-In-Ready Homes” or more of a mix of “to be built” homes, or a whole Team Sales Goal.  This way they will be focused on targeted areas that will help your company where you need it, while also having fun.  For example, if you have a team sales goal and meaningful prize for accomplishing this, such as a team trip, when you get to the last few months of your fiscal year, the salespeople will work together much harder to get those extra sales to pull everyone over the finish line.

“Recognition is a Reward”

-Roland Nairnsey

Sometimes I will hear from owners who feel that they shouldn’t have to spend extra money to reward salespeople for what they should be doing anyway. As a fellow business owner, I understand the sentiment, however the concept is to create a culture of appreciation.  When you have team members who are going the extra mile and displaying the company’s values at the highest level, it is meaningful to recognize them publicly. This is free yet will not only show that you are appreciative, but also help inspire others on your team to follow in their footsteps, therefore improving your company’s culture every step of the way.

By shining a light on exceptional character or activities, you are planting seeds of positivity that will continue to grow over time. Let’s look at the various forms that Recognition comes in, and then we will do a deeper dive into the kinds of rewards that are both popular and effective.

Group Emails

When a salesperson excels in any area it is helpful to “catch them doing things right” and send a group email to the whole company,  outlining the story of their exceptional character or actions.

For example, Beth Byrd, Sales Director at Beacon Homes in Tulsa OK, shared with me that Sales Executive Mindi Mendez just sold a pre-construction home on one of their homesites completely virtually to a client stuck overseas during the quarantine. We had just practiced this virtual selling process and Mindi was able to make an extra sale by having the courage to practice what she had just learned. This resulted in a whole company email with rounds of “atta-girls” from everyone on the team.

Ebon Petty, Sales Director of Robertson Brothers Homes in Detroit Michigan, received an incredible email review of a new salesperson, Austin Seestad. The buyer couldn’t say enough about how Austin went out of his way to help them feel comfortable which they appreciated during these anxious times. Ebon sent this raving review to everyone in the company, not just the sales team. He also put this email on their Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Here is an excerpt:

Austin is one of the friendliest, most optimistic people I have ever met, and we wanted you to know how big of a difference his attitude and disposition make to buyers like us who work with him.”

 This genuine group appreciation of one of your team members character and actions, will not only add a spring to their step, but will also inspire others to keep striving for more excellence, knowing that it will be noticed.

By the way, these emails should be a two-way street, so please encourage your construction manager and customer care teams to do the same thing. When we get a rave review of a builder or a high score on a survey, that should be shared amongst the whole team to create a culture of appreciation and gratitude.

Social Media

Social media is so effective at showing public appreciation when your team shows excellence. Troy Mattern, Sales Director of Heritage Homes in Fargo, ND,  (and Championship winning High School Football Coach), posts a salesperson of the month every month on social media.  Check out the images to the left and right for a couple of examples of Lindsey and Kelli receiving their social media shoutout.

Can you imagine the pride the salespeople feel when their own family and social network see how accomplished and appreciated they are by their fine company?  Of course, clients see this and feel validated that they are working with a top notch professional team and it will also make your company an attractor of top talent. So, not only is this “public display of appreciation” the right  thing to do to show gratitude, but also a win-win for your business.

Sales Meetings, Competitions, and Prizes

This is something near and dear to my heart because as a young salesperson I had some excellent sales managers who created sales competitions which were highly creative and lots of fun.  As much as I probably grumbled and tried to be cool, secretly I was very excited to be recognized for my hard work and success and loved the extra goodies that I was able to share with my family at the time.  I won a Caribbean cruise and a trip to the Ritz Carlton on the ocean in Naples, both of which were the grand prizes for the top salesperson during the competition time frame.

Please don’t worry, you don’t have to give away a trip to have a successful recognition program, your reward program should be scaled to your company and your goals. Let’s look at some tips from all across the country that are working well.

Surprise Prize or Structured Sales Competition?


Some managers will simply surprise their sales people at the beginning of a sales meeting by having them “pop a balloon” for something positive they have accomplished during the previous week. Inside the balloon would be a gift certificate, often for Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks, lunch at a local restaurant, inspirational downloadable books, or something along those lines.  This clearly creates a fun atmosphere with unexpected rewards for positive activities.

Structured Competition

The other approach is to have a Structured Sales Competition with a measured time frame and again focused on having fun while rewarding the positive habits for success.


Here are some of the activities that managers reward:

  1. Daily Follow up.
  2. Daily Follow up that leads to an appointment.
  3. Lengthy follow up that leads to an appointment and then a sale.
  4. Appointment with a client that has been in the database for a while, such as more than 6 months.
  5. High number of weekly appointments set.
  6. Appointments set that actually come back and buy.
  7. Realtor® presentation to whole office either at the Realtors® office or in our models.
  8. Organized a Realtor® Caravan to see our homes.
  9. Attended a Board of Realtors® event or meeting.
  10. Volunteers for a Committee for either Realtor® Association or HBA.
  11. Facebook Live presentation.
  12. Homebuying seminar.
  13. Virtual presentation with clients who couldn’t come in.
  14. Strong conversion ratio.
  15. Number of sales.
  16. Great attitude in the office and with clients.
  17. Team Spirit award for helping out colleagues.
  18. Local charity participation.


When it comes to sales, some managers, as mentioned earlier, will focus on specific types of sales, depending upon what they want their team to  focus on. Here are some examples:

  • All Sales.
  • Selling Move in Ready homes.
  • Selling Move in Ready homes at full price and with faster closing dates.
  • Selling more pre-construction homes or a mix of Pre-construction and move in ready homes.
  • Sales that were generated from self-prospecting activities, such as Realtor® outreach, social media, homebuying seminar, or community event.
  • Sales that were generated from personal referrals.
  • Sales on a shorter number of visits.


Some of the most effective rewards are the aforementioned recognition, such as group emails and social media posts. Salesperson of the Month awards are especially effective, since they carry serious bragging rights.

Optionally, when having a longer term sales competition, some managers have created a visual track, of either cars or horses, and each one represents a salesperson. 

At the sales meeting, for every successful activity, the salesperson moves himself around the track in proportion to the points.

At the end of a measured time period, such as 60-90 days, whoever crosses the finish line first will win the Grand Prize.

While this may sound long winded, I have participated in these types of competitions many times and found first hand that it is a great way to create an engaging atmosphere while also creating some friendly competition, increasing sales, and the use of best practices.

Weekly Prizes

When determining prizes, create your budget and then try to keep it personal by finding out what would have meaning for each individual sales person.

Some people may love a day of being pampered at the spa, others a local restaurant certificate so they can enjoy a meal with their family or have a date with their spouse. A day of golf or simply earning an extra weekend day off to spend with their family can all be effective.


Ultimately, when you accomplish your team goal, we should learn to celebrate and have fun together.   I have seen all of the following:

  • Dinner at a local restaurant.
  • Karaoke and dinner at a local restaurant.
  • Top Golf.
  • Escape room.
  • Murder Mystery dinner.
  • Axe throwing.
  • Wine tasting.
  • Cooking lessons.
  • Golf tournament using best ball.
  • Sales and motivational training especially at an exotic location.
  • Team trip or vacation.

The idea is to create a relaxed atmosphere and have fun as a team, so that everyone can let their hair down and celebrate the collaboration that will have caused their success.  Light speeches with silly prizes for special recognition can be charming, if you feel like it. 

With larger companies, I have seen team vacations for reaching a huge goal, as a fun outlet and also a branding opportunity for the company.  Please be sensitive though, because some salespeople may be reticent to leave their family at home while they are off having fun, while of course others may be more than happy for the break.    The main thing is that your team will be grateful that you are recognizing them and wanting to spoil them by showing your appreciation, all of which helps build trust and loyalty within the team.  

Many years ago, when I worked on a ten person sales floor in South Florida, the salesperson of the month would have a sign in front of the welcome center with their name on it. I remember being immensely proud of this, as I pulled into my private spot every day.

Looking back, I am impressed with the creativity of my sales manager, Dom, at the time. It was a simple gesture, but one that must have meant something to me as I have kept this picture for over  25 years.  Here is a picture of me standing in front of the sign with my dad, step mother, and two sisters – Abi, who now works with me, and Vicki, who is one of the Top Mary Kay sales managers in the country. I am so proud of both of them.        

Roland, Sharon, Vicki, Abi, and Ian Nairnsey

Appreciation is a gift that should be shared genuinely. Show your team that you care about them and that you appreciate their character, hard work, and, in many cases, the sacrifices they make on behalf of you and the company. Fostering this culture of recognition will create a more harmonious work place with happier salespeople who see each other as real people and will help everyone develop and grow together.

All I ask is that when you start your fun programs, you send me the pictures!

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