5 best practices for a Sales Incentive program

5 best practices to keep in mind when you incent your sales team

Anyone in sales will tell you that it is a tough job.  There is very steep competition and a lot of time and energy is required close the deals for an organization.  High monetary compensation is not necessarily enough to compensate for dealing with mounds of new prospects, high maintenance customers and the competition that they have to deal with on a daily basis.  “If compensation was a sufficient motivator, your people would already be performing,” says sales consultant and executive coach Mark Palmer.  Your team may be performing well and there are probably some very high performers but you want your entire team to be superstars, not just a few.  That is why you need to create a program to incent your sales team that can help bring everyone on the team to a superstar level.

Here are 5 things that you need to consider when deciding how best to do this.

  1. Find out what motivates your team to perform

Talk to your sales team and find out what they want.  Initially it will be more compensation but more tangible rewards such as a luxurious getaway can be more effective.  A tangible reward attached to an incentive or sales goal can be visualized by your team and keep it front of mind.


  1. Create a bit of buzz and competition

There is already a lot of competition amongst your team internally and externally.  Internally you want that competition to be fun and healthy so that your team is more likely to work together towards a common goal instead of going into a silo just to prove that they are the best.  Incent them if they show collaboration and also if they reach out for help.  Create a reward for the team as a whole and track team progress publically.


  1. Communicate with them frequently

Keep the conversation going.  If you have a new incentive program make sure that you are talking about it often to keep your sales team engaged with you, the program and the organization.  Also sharing successes and the reward for that will create memories of the event and instill a bit of that healthy competition you want.


  1. Don’t forget the rest of the organization

Before, during and after a sale there is more than just your sales team involved.  There are many background operations and support staff to help your team and those people can’t be forgotten.  Incent and reward them as well because when they more motivated they are the more efficient and eager and they will be able to help your team which in turn will drive higher performance from everyone.


  1. Incent differently for different behaviours you want to see

If you incent your sales team and the rest of the organization in the same way all of the time it could become boring and the program could go stale.  Keep it fresh and new – this will also help you keep the conversation going.  For example, if you just launched a new product that you want to push to the market, create a higher reward for those sales.  Similarly you could do this if you have product that you need to move out.  You can also use this to encourage sales reps out of their comfort zones and to go after bigger but potentially harder sales.

Commission based incentives really only let the current superstars win and your whole team and those supporting it want a chance to feel like they have won.  Keeping the above 5 things in mind when determining the best type of incentive and rewards program will bring your team together, create a stronger organizational support system and ultimately drive your team to only strive for high performance.