Written by: William Johnson, Division VP, Sales and Channel, BI WORLDWIDE
(View Author Bio)
The key to getting the most out of your sales team is using the right sales incentive tool at the right time.
Check out these six key sales incentive programs (and 3 bonus tools) that will drive engagement and deliver results the next time you pull them out of your toolbox.Scroll Down
Any craftsman will tell you that to do a job right, you need the right tools. Sure, Hollywood likes to glamorise using a paperclip, a mango and a small woodland creature to disarm a bomb (see MacGyver) but in the real world, the right tools for the right problems are the best way to overcome a challenge.
Using the right sales incentive structure is also key to solving your business or sales performance issues. The following are some of the best ones to have in your incentive toolbox to help remedy any challenge.
Just like everyone needs a good hammer, a do this, get that structure is one of the most useful sales incentive tools for driving engagement and delivering results.
Simple structure where participants are rewarded each time they meet specific criteria. Sell X, earn Y.
• Easy to understand
• Open-ended to keep sales teams motivated throughout the program period
• Flexible in terms of program duration, reward amounts used and metrics (e.g., total sales, incremental sales, units, growth, activities, etc.)
• Use for short- or long-term initiatives
• Use when you want to issue different award values for different sale types or different activities
If you're looking for instant sales engagement and fast results that are easy on the budget, break the bank is a great incentive structure to utilise.
Participants earn a portion of a prize pool on a first come, first earned basis, based upon defined sales/activities. When the pool of rewards runs out, the promotion is over.
• Creates a sense of urgency
• Ensures reward budget is not exceeded
• Fosters friendly competition
• Metric flexibility (e.g., revenue, units or activities)
• Use for initiatives spanning up to 2 months
A highly promotable incentive structure for those on a limited budget.
By completing tasks, participants earn entries for a larger prize. In addition to being a type of standalone rules structure, a sweepstakes can be used as an overlay or supplement to another structure.
• Motivates lower-level performers, who have a fair chance to win a great prize
• Defined/fixed rewards budget
• Allows sponsor to issue special, high-end rewards that would not be possible with other structures (e.g., trip to Hawaii)
• Can also be used as an incentive overlay
• Use with audiences that are nominally compensated and when trying to drive simple activities (e.g., quiz completion, CRM account updates)
If you need to teach a new behaviour and make it stick, adding some learning to your sales incentive program is a perfect way to do it.
Requiring reps to complete part of a sales training program can be used in a couple of ways: They either need to pass the training to participate in an upcoming incentive or if they complete the required training, they earn more in the incentive than if they didn't.
• Easy to understand
• Leverages 'do this, get that' structure format
• Often used for a limited time period (1-3 months) but can be used for up to 12 months if the learning curriculum is extensive. In that case, sales training should be spread out into numerous courses or modules.
A little is good but MORE is better! That's the basic premise behind the accelerator structure.
A do this, get that structure where payouts increase as key milestone levels are met.
• Highly promotable
• Creates push to reach the highest level
• Open-ended to keep sales reps motivated
• Sales awards can be issued as earned or at the program's end
• Especially motivating for top performers
• Use for short-term incentives, especially those with a unit-based metric
Leveraging gamification and the competitive nature of people help make this incentive tool a powerful one as well.
Missions are a core structure used in gamification to drive increased and focused activities. They are short-term building blocks supporting a long-term initiative and can be segmented or changed throughout a program to maximise sales engagement in a meaningful way.
• Based on the psychology of intrinsic motivation, rewards and recognition
• Tap into the five intrinsic motivators that have the greatest impact on performance: autonomy, mastery, purpose, progress and social interaction
• Used primarily with existing technology to drive adoption and engagement
• Highly popular in training and development applications
• Creates strong analytics to optimise program performance for employees, sales teams and customers
Having a core set of rules structures in your sales incentive toolbox will help drive the results you are looking for. Here are a few extra add-ons that will amplify the power of your incentives:
Involves using one or more key rules structures for a limited time, thus maximising near-term activity.
Helps ensure that a new program gets off to a great start or a program finishes strong as it nears its end.
In addition to being a type of standalone rules structure, top performers can be recognised and rewarded as part of an overlay, where they earn
bonus rewards for exemplary sales performance.
Motivates historically strong performers, while minimising budget exposure because it relies on a fixed budget.
This highly promotable tactic involves doubling or tripling base program earnings if certain performance metrics are met. It can apply to individual or team performance, depending on the sales goals you're focused on achieving.
It has a high promotion value and is a strong way to incorporate a team-based component into an otherwise individually-focused initiative, thus encouraging reps to work together.
These are just some of the sales incentive tools you can use to drive engagement, change behaviour and deliver results. And don't forget, sometimes the best incentive programs combine two or more rules structures to challenge your team in a new way.