Sales Incentive Programs

The more satisfied your sales team, the more productivity you can expect. One way to further motivate your sales team is to provide additional incentives above and beyond salaries and commissions.
Incentives can certainly take the form of monetary bonuses such as, paid time off or special cash awards.
Non-monetary incentives can also be effective tools. Whichever you choose, it’s important to keep incentive programs simple, easily understood, realistically achievable, and kept to a relatively short timeframe so your sales team won’t lose interest in them.
Possible incentives include:
  • Work perks. Incentives like these can be perceived as high-value rewards, yet cost your company very little. Perks could include preferred or reserved parking, upgraded office space, or remote working privileges, among others.
  • Merchandise. Perhaps you can leverage your ties to suppliers to obtain items at a discount, which salespeople will find motivating. It’s important, however, to make sure prizes represent products that most of your team doesn't already own and are valuable enough to be motivating.
  • Travel. Another reward that may motivate sales teams include travel opportunities for a salesperson (and spouse). These incentives can include paid day trips to golf courses or other resorts, long weekends with complimentary sports or event tickets, all inclusive-vacations to more remote destinations, or even a generous award of frequent flier miles.
  • Career development. Many salespeople are extremely interested in advancing their careers – especially top performers. High-value career development opportunities can include complimentary membership dues to professional associations or societies, paid attendance at educational conferences and seminars, or tuition reimbursement for completing career certifications.
  • Profit Sharing. There are two types of profit sharing for employers to consider. The first is bonus compensation, which can be implemented monthly, quarterly or annually. The second involves creating a retirement plan. This can be offered in the form of a 401(k) plan or traditional pension plan. Profit sharing is an appealing incentive to employees across all departments including Sales.
When it’s time to launch an incentive program, hold a meeting with your team to explain how it works. Make sure the program is simple to track and provides frequent feedback. In this way, you can reward outstanding performance and promote enthusiasm for closing more sales.

Game Plan

  • Decide on what type of incentive is most appropriate for your team. You could even ask salespeople which incentives they think would be most motivating.
  • Design your incentive program so it’s easily understood and easy to track.
  • Review materials from The Incentive Research Foundation, which offers a wealth of research and market studies on effective sales incentives.
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