Keep Your Rockstar Sales Team Passionate Through Personalized Recognition

Your sales team works hard to qualify and close promising leads, and they deserve to be recognized for their efforts. Being in sales isn’t an easy career. Many professionals have invested years and thousands of dollars developing the skills they use to achieve the outstanding results that make your company shine.

When you think of recognizing your sales force, you probably think of giving them raises, cash bonuses, gift cards, or acknowledging them through a corporate memo. Those efforts are genuine, but too impersonal to make them feel truly recognized. Raising their pay to account for inflation is important, but it isn’t recognition.

To feel the authenticity of recognition, a person needs to be recognized for who they are in addition to what they’ve done. Recognizing someone involves more than saying, “thanks.” Recognition needs to be personal and specific.

For example, taking a minute to recognize a sales associate during a company meeting for “doing a good job” will make them feel good on the spot, but it won’t last. Recognizing them for saving the company $5,000 for spotting a dire mistake will go further because it’s specific. If that associate’s gift is spotting mistakes, that specific recognition will hold personal meaning and generate a sense of accomplishment.

How to personalize recognition

Personalizing recognition isn’t difficult when you know who your sales team members are. You don’t need to know every detail about their lives, but you should know enough to personalize the way you recognize them. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Find out what their favorite pastime is and get them some memorabilia. That’s what AddVenture did for Brad White when he was surprised with two baseballs and a heavily game-used bat, all signed by Rickey Henderson – his favorite player. White said knowing his employer knew him well enough to recognize him with a thoughtful gift held immeasurable value.
  • Recognize your top sales people. Kids’ sports teams today might give everyone a trophy for participation, but that doesn’t mean you should give your entire sales team awards. Make them earn it. Recognize your top salespeople with something enticing. Make the recognition something everyone would want. Most people don’t receive enough recognition in their jobs, so they will amp up their game to get it.
  • Personalize a plaque or trophy the right way. It’s not enough to hand someone a plaque that says, “thanks for your 10 years of service,” or, “thanks for generating the most sales in a quarter in company history.” Like the guy who received autographed baseballs, make your inscription as personal as possible. What, specifically did they do to earn the award? Recognize their strengths and gifts in the inscription.
  • Find out what love language your employees speak. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman is a book designed to improve all relationships, not just romantic ones. Each person has a love language – a language that makes them feel appreciated. For example, the five languages are physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, and quality time.

    Since you’re dealing with a professional situation, you can leave physical touch out of the equation. Thankfully, most people have multiple languages. Find out which language your sales associates speak and tailor your recognition to that language. For instance, if their main language is words of affirmation, what you engrave on their award matters more than it would for someone whose language is receiving gifts.

    For someone whose language is acts of service, give them a prepaid gift that provides an act of service like a full car detail and wax. For someone whose language is quality time, give them an all expenses paid vacation so they can spend quality time with their spouse or family.

Don’t drop the ball

Handing out awards, pins, and plaques comes with the responsibility to ensure they’re delivered on time and in the appropriate manner. For instance, sometimes plaques are delivered several years late when nobody keeps track of anniversary dates. Or, service pins are given out mechanically, sometimes right after upper management has berated the employee for failing to meet a goal.

Sometimes awards are handed out at banquets, but if a person can’t attend, they don’t get the recognition or the award later on. Worse, some companies send employees cheap, generic trophies in the mail.

Recognition is the fuel that keeps your sales force on fire

Most professionals go years without being recognized for their specific talents. Some may feel worn out and unappreciated by the time they join your team. Proper recognition can go a long way to keep people motivated, happy, and inspired.

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Melissa Thompson

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.