Sales Incentive Ideas

Salespeople are a different breed to most employees and they are the lifeblood that keeps a business ticking over.  They are highly motivated by incentives as more often than not their income is highly reflective of their performance.  As a result of this motivation and their inbuilt responsiveness to competitions it is important to continue to encourage and reward their success through additional incentives above and beyond their pre-arranged commission structures.

Why Would We Do This?

Salespeople are often one of the highest earning employees within organizations so why would a business want to incentivize them even more.  The simple answer to this question is to point them in the right direction.  By their nature salespeople are generally lazy and will take the path of least resistance in order to achieve their goals.  This path may not always align with a company’s strategic objectives such as the growth of a new territory or elimination of an overstocked item.  So in order to focus the attention of our sales force on these sometimes more difficult assignments we can use strategic incentives to point them in the right direction

Some things to consider

Some companies are of the belief that group or companywide incentives are king.  They do this with the best of intention to try and ensure that employees are not singled out and preach equality throughout the company.  Unfortunately in my experience this tactic will not work for your sales team.  In fact it is the inequality or rather the recognition of excelling their peers that is the true driver of motivation with the materialistic benefits coming a distant second. 

Some Specific Sales Incentive Ideas

1)   Cash – Like dogs are incentivized by food so too are salespeople by cash.  There are in infinite ways in which you can set the set of conditions that need to be met in order to receive the cash.

2)   Choice – Some companies don’t like to use additional cash as incentives, they may receive some tax benefits by offering products or services as an alternative to cash.  The trouble is that it is very difficult to choose which product or service is going to work well as each person has different tastes or incentives.  One system which I have worked under in the past is a point’s based system of achievement.  With points being able to be used to “purchase” goods and services that I wanted.

3)   Recognition – As mentioned earlier this is generally the primary motivator for most sales people is recognition.  This can be done in the form of awards and celebrated at company functions or conferences.  From personal experience I know that when these are about to be announced there is a significant amount of chatter around who will got the Salesperson of the year award.  You can build on this by creating buzz around the award with the knowledge that this will inspire healthy competition amongst your employees

Secret Tip

Most company’s idea of a sales incentive is to base it around increased sales.  It is possible to incentivize non direct sales KPI’s which sometimes can get overlooked.  A prime example of this is an incentive based around referrals.  Most of us know that referrals from existing customers is a much simpler way to acquire new customers then approaching a cold prospect so why not create a sales incentive around the amount of referrals generated by your sales representatives?

So my question to the readers of this article is have you run a referral based incentive program?  Was it successful?