Whether you’re responsible for your company’s channel sales program or leading an inside sales team, you’re probably thinking about how to close the year strong and planning for next year.  Motivating sales incentives are important to the fiscal health of your company and essential to keeping the team on track with selling your products and services. There are a few things you need to know to be sure that you’re getting the best results and the greatest motivation for your efforts.

Learn from Top Performing Companies

Recent research by the Incentive Research Foundation provides a great look at what successful companies are doing.  Here are four big differences in how top performing companies handle sales incentives:

  • 90% use non-cash recognition and rewards
  • They prioritize reach over exclusivity to motivate a broad audience
  • They budget a higher percent of income
  • They include programs in broader corporate communications

Consider a program designed to reward your entire team, in proportion to the effort and results. There’s no better way to engage the middle 60% who may not be sure that they’ll reach your biggest goals.

Engage the Brain

The Harvard Four-Drive Model sheds light on what really motivates people, in all aspects of their lives. The first two drives are especially helpful to consider when designing a sales incentive program:

  • Drive to Acquire, including acquisition of skills or recognition of achievement
  • Drive to Bond with organization and be part of the team
  • Drive to Comprehend or Innovate and develop best practices
  • Drive to Defend can be mitigated with appreciation and transparency

People need the satisfaction of achievement and want to be known as important members of the group or team. Sales incentives respond directly to these drives.

Connect with Individual Aspirations

To really reach your whole audience, you have to think about them as individuals. Joint recent research by the Incentive Research Foundation and the Incentive Marketing Association shows just how different a team can be:

  • Out of 492 survey respondents, 99% had unique recognition and reward preferences
  • Experience must be personally relevant

If you want to connect everyone to your goals, you have to appeal to their individual aspirations. That’s why points programs are effective. They increase motivation through the power of choice.

Whether you are getting ready to run a Q4 sprint or you are developing a long-game strategy for next year, take the time for strategic design, engage motivation drivers, and consider the experience for the individual. You will be setting a course for the right results.

?>

About the author

As Vice President of Engagement at Next Level Performance, Susan serves on the board of the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), and chairs the IRF Research Committee. She has also served on the board of the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) and is a past president of the Recognition Council, and a past member of the Performance Improvement Council and the Incentive and Engagement Solution Providers (IESP). She is interested in the strategies and benefits of employee engagement, incentive, and recognition programs. An avid traveler, she is also passionate about the art and science of incentive travel. Favorite travel destinations: Costa Rica, Iceland, Switzerland, and Maine.

Susan Adams
Vice President of Engagement
sadams@nxlperformance.com