Incentive Strategies Geared to Motivate Sales Teams

by: Nichole Gunn February 24, 2011

The sales team is the link between a product and the customer. Whether a business is big or small, it can’t survive without a sales team.

With a new year underway, many businesses have either initiated a comprehensive sales rewards program, tweaked an existing one, or are in the process of doing so. This undertaking is essential to a company, especially as the economy moves forward. Keeping an edge, and being competitive in sales productivity will lead your company sustain a healthy bottom line.

According to Suzanne Paling, writing for Entrepreneur.com, the most effective sales incentives provide the motivation needed for the sales team to be successful, and also lures in top talent. It’s important though, for a company’s incentive plan to be tailored to the company.

“Writing a compensation plan is a specialized skill. If you have the expertise, go for it. If not, consider hiring a compensation specialist to work with you and offer suggestions that are tailored to your small business,” notes Paling.

While monetary rewards are useful tools in motivation, other incentives such as gifts and recognition can be just as effective. Paling offers three strategies to create a successful sales incentive program.

First, create a program that shows top talent is greatly appreciated. One possibility is to structure the plan to increase commissions on sales for certain sales brackets.

The second tip talks about contests as a means of producing motivation. “Generally one to three percent of the amount available for sales commissions or bonuses should be set aside for contests,” explains Paling. And, again, the reward can be a gift certificate to a local restaurant, or a gift card. From Paling’s experience, sales employee retention is at a higher level in companies that offer “regular sales contests.”

Finally, network with other business owners or a mentor to learn about other effective sales incentives and get outside insight into your own plan. In addition, obtaining feedback from the sales team will let you know if you’re heading in the right rewards direction. If your plan is off course, simply steer it in a more effective direction.


About Nichole Gunn

Nichole Gunn is the VP of Marketing at Incentive Solutions, an Atlanta-based incentive company that delivers advanced, agile B2B customer loyalty and channel sales incentives programs.