How to create an effective sales incentive program
90% of top-performing companies use sales incentive programs to reward their sales teams. An effective incentive program can help boost performance, improve morale and increase staff retention.
However, this doesn’t mean that creating one is simple. No one program will work for every company. Instead, you’ll need to create a tailored solution that works for your team, your business and your bottom line.
In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about creating an effective sales incentive program that gets results. We’ll cover:
- What are sales incentives?
- How does a sales incentive program work?
- Structuring your sales incentive program
- Monetary vs. non-monetary sales incentives
- How to create a sales incentives program
What are sales incentives?
Put simply, a sales incentive is a reward a business offers when employees meet goals or sales targets. Typically, specific achievements are linked to specific incentives. These incentives include monetary rewards (like bonuses or commissions) and non-monetary rewards (extra paid time off or a relaxing spa day).
How does a sales incentive program work?
An effective sales incentive program should be bespoke to your team – there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. You’ll need to consider what your team values and which kinds of incentives and program structure will best motivate your sales team.
However, all incentive plans for sales teams are designed with similar outcomes in mind. There should be a clear expectation of what’s required of the team and clear goals with associated incentives when they’re achieved. By giving your team an outline of the sales incentive plan at the beginning of the year, you motivate them to perfect their sales strategy to achieve the predetermined goals.
How to structure your sales incentive program
There are many types of sales incentive structures, so you’ll need to choose one best suited to your company culture, sales processes and sales goals. One of the main factors to consider is the length of your sales cycle. For example, if you have a lengthy sales cycle with long, complex deals that take months or even years to complete, there’s no point in offering a monthly reward package based on closed deals.
Below, we’ll review some of the most common incentive structures you might want to consider for your company.
1. Role-specific incentives
If you have team members with different roles and responsibilities, you should create role-specific goals to reward your sales professionals. For example, you might have account executives, sales development reps, customer success reps, and sales managers, all with different responsibilities. So, they’ll need different goals to work towards. Every individual should be incentivised to perform their best and succeed in their role.
2. Location-based incentives
You might have different sales teams based in different locations or assigned to different territories. In this case, you’ll need to consider the location’s market opportunity and overall performance when creating goals and rewarding reps. For example, you might have one new location, one established location, and one underperforming location. Each location will have different business goals, and your sales incentive program should reflect that. Different goals might include new client acquisition, customer retention, cross-selling, up-selling or specific sales.
3. Presales incentives
Monthly or quarterly rewards programs based on sales data will likely be the simplest solution for businesses with shorter and simpler sales cycles. However, for more complex industries, you’ll have to create more goals to keep your employees motivated throughout the year while working on completing a lengthy deal. These are known as pre-sales incentives.
You might want to offer incentives for when a deal reaches specific stages (as well as when it’s completed). This allows employees to be recognised for their progress throughout the deal rather than just at the end.
4. Split incentives
If it’s common for sales executives to work together to close a single deal, you might want to consider split incentives. This allows all parties to be compensated for their involvement in a deal rather than just the person who instigated it. You’ll need to set clear expectations about what’s considered a contribution to a deal and a precise way to track employees’ contributions to ensure everyone is rewarded fairly for their efforts.
5. Omnichannel incentives
An omnichannel approach ensures that employees are rewarded for all the deals they instigate or are involved in across all channels. Your incentive program should be able to credit for customer engagement or sales regardless of channel to ensure employees are not motivated to ignore specific channels and limit their sales strategy.
Monetary vs. non-monetary sales incentives
When it comes to designing your sales program, you can offer monetary incentives, non-monetary incentives or a combination of the two. What you offer will depend on your budget, your team’s preferences and business goals.
Not everyone is driven by monetary incentives, which can seem mundane to some employees. Non-monetary incentives are a great way to motivate employees with exciting events or unusual gifts. These are often combined with monetary incentives to reward the highest performers in different categories.
Some popular options include:
- Extra paid time off
- Voucher for a retreat or spa day
- Gifts or prizes (e.g. new headphones)
- Memberships or subscriptions (e.g. one month free gym membership)
- Event or sports tickets
- Team nights out
- Vacation or getaway
- Lunch with company executives
Offering a monetary incentive or commission is a classic way to motivate your sales executives, and they’re often linked directly to revenue or sales performance. There are several different commission structures which you can utilise as part of your incentive program. However, commission isn’t the only option when it comes to monetary incentives. Other options include:
- Performance-based bonuses
- Cash rewards
- Gift cards
- Discounts or vouchers
- Employee stock options
How to set up a sales incentives program
Setting up an effective sales incentive program from scratch can be tricky. Follow our top tips to streamline the process.
1. Find out what motivates your team
The first step should always be to determine what kinds of incentives are right for your team and individuals. You might want to send a survey or have a one-to-one chat to gain insights and find the best balance between monetary and non-monetary rewards.
When choosing non-monetary rewards, you must ensure they’re suitable for everyone, tailor them based on individual preferences, or let employees choose from various options. A luxury spa day with a relaxing massage and facial treatment might not appeal to everyone!
2. Create clear and achievable goals
Once you’ve established what your rewards will be, it’s time to set up goals. Ensure that your goals are clear and achievable. Setting expectations too high will likely lead to disengagement when employees fail to reach any goals. Several smaller goals with smaller incentives and a higher goal with a higher reward is a great strategy.
3. Combine monetary and non-monetary incentives
Mixing monetary and non-monetary is a great way to motivate your team and keep them inspired. Offering commission on sales is perfect for keeping employees motivated day-to-day as it’s directly linked to their performance. However, combining this with exciting, non-monetary incentives to reward the highest-performing team or individual can really push results.
4. Create healthy competition
Creating a leaderboard can also be a great way to incentivise employees. However, if the same handful of employees appear at the top each month, it can be disheartening to the rest of the team. Try to create multiple categories or areas where performance can be measured and rewarded so everyone feels like they have a chance.
Bespoke sales incentive programs
Creating an effective incentive program can be a real challenge. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be.
At Another Way, we’re experts at designing unique and inspiring sales incentive programs tailored to your team. Bespoke incentives are the best way to motivate your team and reward outstanding performance.
Our team has years of experience creating and implementing bespoke reward schemes, so you can rely on us to motivate and engage your team.
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