If you’re a typical retail store owner, you’re going to encounter times in the year when the store is either struggling with sales during slow periods, or when your staff just needs a boost of energy. Oftentimes it’s difficult to even pinpoint what’s going wrong. You may have tried sales, special offers, or ‘today only’ items to interest customers and give your team something to talk about. Those are often initially successful, but the hype fades in a few weeks. Now what? Consider focusing your energy on your best sales tool–your sales associates!

Instead of giving customers more reasons to buy, focus on giving your team more reasons to sell. Create excitement and friendly competition in the store. You probably want each associate to race and greet each customer, to smile and explain the products, and set a positive, upbeat feel to your sales floor. How can you do this? The answer is simple: incentivize them!

Start your incentive program with one goal in mind: The NEED to sell. Here are a few different incentives you can try:

  1. Hold a store pizza party for a certain sales goal in a specific amount of time
  2. Set individual sales goals and give a candy bar or prize weekly if met
  3. Incentivize with money

A pizza party is an easy incentive to quickly set up and is relatively inexpensive. However, it may only work in a few instances as it may not motivate the entire staff. Giving out candy bars or weekly prizes is another fun, inexpensive incentive but it usually can’t create the same amount of excitement that a commissioned item can. These first two types of incentives work best when ran for only a week or two when excitement is high. If they run longer, they can become un-motivating.

Incentivizing your staff with money works the best when you really need to get them selling. I recommend running this incentive program for a month or two at a time and not running it again for several months. If it runs longer than two months, the excitement can wear and you are back to square one.

To incentivize with money, first choose an item or two that you want to put on “commission”. It could be something in the store that you want to move out or that has a higher price point. Next, set your commission amount. Don’t set this number too high because you don’t want your margin to be zero. Also remember that this needs to be a number that is worth the “extra” work by your sales associates. A 50 cent incentive per sale of a $50 item probably won’t give your staff the motivation to sell it. Instead try $1-2 pre-sell of that $50 item. Other ideas can be to give commissions for a sales transaction above a certain amount, upselling at the counter, or gathering customer information such as an email address. Another suggestion that may work better for you is to pay the commission in store credit. This way you can possibly pay a higher amount while still getting a good margin.

Hopefully these are some good ideas for you. These can be a great motivational tool that should be used only a few times a year. It needs to be something that they are excited about because it rarely happens.

Now, go out and commission those associates!