Devon-McDonald-1-e1346784117853Guest post by Devon McDonald, director of growth strategy for OpenView Venture Partners

Outbound lead generation is an exhausting role, filled with constant rejection. While the act of finding new business for your sales organization can be very rewarding at times, it can also be very hard to stay motivated when your target customers are continuously turning you down.

While money isn’t everything (particularly for millennials who tend to be motivated by mentorship and career development), with the proper monetary incentives in place, you will absolutely have a greater likelihood of keeping your team’s spirits alive, retaining your top talent, and maintain new business coming in the door.

Here are five helpful changes you can implement to your compensation plans to keep your team competitive:

1) Pay Bonuses on a Monthly Basis
Outbound lead generation is often an entry-level job. As such, the people you recruit will be fresh out of college with things like rent, groceries, credit card bills, and student loans consuming much of their income. Since a significant portion of their pay stems from their bonus, they’re likely relying on that money to pay their bills.

As a result, if they work hard every day and deliver on the goals you set for them, it’s only fair to reward them with their bonus as frequently as possible.

That being said, keep in mind that with a monthly payout, managers will need to perform more due diligence and work with finance to ensure that the payouts occur and that that the payout is for legitimate results. In the end, it’s worth it.

2) Don’t Penalize Reps for What They Can’t Control
The focus of lead generation is obviously to create new sales opportunities. It isn’t the responsibility of a lead generation rep to actually close out those deals.

Naturally, you benefit more from opportunities that close, but the act of closing is really out of the hands of the lead generation team.

From our observations in OpenView’s investment portfolio, lead generation reps that have major goals around closed deals often end up spending less time generating new business, and more time chasing after the sales reps, questioning them on when their deals will be closing. This is a huge distraction to everyone! And trust me, your sales reps are going to get pissed off.

That doesn’t mean that the lead generation should have absolutely no tie at all to closed deals.  A very small percentage bonus for closed deals (perhaps something as small as .02% of the first year contract value) can be a nice perk. It encourages outbound lead generation reps to stay focused on generating high quality opportunities for the sales team, and also shows them that the fruits of their labor will ultimately payoff in the long-term.

3) Gamify Lead Generation with Challenges and Spiffs
On top of traditional commissions and bonuses, many companies give rewards to their top salespeople known as spiffs. These rewards can be handed out daily or weekly and can help establish good motivation and a healthy competitive atmosphere for employees.

The best way to set-up a spiff is to have a challenge such as, “Whomever gets the most conversations with C-level executives today/whomever hits the goal of X opportunities this week wins _______.” The prize can be anything from a small cash prize to getting to leave early on a Friday to something more creative.

This should be a fun event for your team. Consider having an award ceremony or a big announcement at the end of the period to get everyone excited, and motivated to be the “best on the team” next time around.

4) Have Walls, But No Ceilings
You never want to encourage subpar performance. To avoid this, set-up an incentive wall that employees must pass in order to start receiving bonuses. To be fair to your employees, it shouldn’t be set too high — most hover around 50% of the quota.

On the other hand, you should always encourage your reps to exceed their numbers. If they do reach their quota, why not let them keep going? Don’t cap your bonuses for overachievers. There is no reason to put a constraint on good performance. Doing so could cause employees to save leads for the next quota cycle.

If you are looking to build out your sales funnel with highly qualified prospects, check out OpenView’s eBook, “Get More Customers: How to Build an Outbound B2B Lead Generation Team that Drives Sales.”