Why Sales Incentives Work

If you have a sales team of any kind, chances are you’ve implemented some sort of incentive or bonus plan to motivate them. Whether it was cash based (commissions, bonuses, etc.), or non-cash based (trips, prizes, points, or other awards), sales incentives play a large role in the way we motivate our  teams.

The type of sales incentives that work best for your team largely depends on your goals. Regardless of the type of incentives you choose, there are many more benefits from a sales incentive program other than simply “improved performance” or “higher sales,” especially when the rewards are not cash-based. Read on to discover the benefits.

Focus
If you’ve got a specific target you want to hit by a certain date, it’s going to take more than saying “hit this target by this date.” Shorter term incentive plans work beautifully for getting your team focused: you can specify certain products or target dates and put an enticing reward on the table within that time frame. Creating a shorter program is often just enough to light a fire under people to drive the performance you desire.

Energy & Excitement
You would think that the prospect of earning a commission on a sale would be enough to motivate your team to sell. Unfortunately, this is typically not the case with the majority of sales teams. In reality, there’s likely 20% of the salespeople that are making 80% of the sales. So what do you do to excite the other 80%? Give them something to be excited about.

To do this, the right reward structures must be in place. You have to understand what exactly it is that will drive your team. A one-size-fits-all approach may work for a while, but a family cruise option isn’t going to sound appealing to a young single man, just as a golf or fishing trip wouldn’t entice… well, anyone who isn’t interested in those activities.

The key to creating a sales incentive program that works is making it personal. People get enthusiastic about things that mean something to them. Make them get excited about what they’re working for.

Loyalty
Many companies give bonuses or commission checks which have become mundane. When your incentive plan includes items with trophy value or emotional significance, such as a prestigious golf getaway or a family cruise, employees are more likely to remain loyal to you. Turning the tables and rewarding with these personal, significant items deliver maximum impact and are more likely to be remembered for years to come.

Competition
Let’s face it: most salespeople are competitive. Give them a goal, and they’ll want to out-do their counterparts. It’s not a negative trait; it’s what drives them to make sales. It’s how they thrive. And that’s okay.

To encourage this competition, consider setting up a points system with a visible leader board. Your team can always see where they stand among their colleagues, which will likely inspire some additional effort!

sales incentivesCollaborative efforts
A well-designed plan can not only drive friendly competition, but it can also encourage collaboration. In order to inspire your team to work together, set a team objective, such as an overall number of leads or units sold. You can then add a significant prize or reward for reaching this goal – and the whole team benefits.

By adding larger points bonuses or prizes for team goals that can only be awarded if the team reaches a common goal, everyone is encouraged to work together on the team objective in addition to their own, individual goals. This creates a culture of friendly competition, instead of cutthroat rivalry.

Reduced turnover
One of the biggest reasons people seek new employment is feeling under compensated or underappreciated. Having an exceptional incentive program in place is how smart businesses are reducing employee turnover, as it is a way of showing them you appreciate their contributions to the business in addition to their regular paycheck.

Adding an incentive program to your compensation package can be a huge benefit not only to your team, but to you as well. From increased excitement & loyalty to reduced turnover, sales incentives provide many benefits all around.

To learn more about non-cash sales incentives programs & their benefits, read “Why Cash Incentives Fail.” Or, check out our “Sales Incentives” page.

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