Sales Incentive Programs: The Critical Components

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Your sales incentive program treads a very thin line. On one hand, it needs to motivate your team members to achieve new goals. On the other hand, it needs to not alienate other team members who maybe have more challenging territories or aren’t as experienced as the reps who frequently reach individual and team goals.

So, what do you look for in an incentive program?

Mark Houck is Director of New Business Development at Xceleration, and he believes there is no bigger, more important element of a successful sales program than a quality sales incentive platform.

“There is an opportunity for companies to really make an impact on their sales,” Houck says, “if they engage every salesperson in the organization with an incentive to move the needle.”

Incentivizing every salesperson is key to keeping everyone engaged.  If your individual team members are motivated not only to reach a team goal, but an individual goal as well, they are more likely to reach goals and earn the incentives – and here’s where modern incentive programs deviate from the traditional.

Cash is no longer the preferred reward. In fact, a recent survey showed 62% of incentivized team members preferred a tangible reward, or better yet, an experience like travel or access to a big event.

Houck says even the best-intended use for a cash reward often goes unrealized.

“Bonuses are to pay the bills,” he says. “Travel incentives, experiences and tangible rewards really encourage you to exceed your goals.”

Rewarding top performers with experiences is proven to motivate – studies show people prefer this type of reward over cash.

Tangible rewards are something the recipient wants, will use, and will have a positive feeling about every time they put it to use. Cash gets deposited and then forgotten about.

Travel rewards offer something everyone wants, especially if the offer includes the flexibility to travel wherever the recipient wants, wherever they want, and with whomever they want.

“The visualization aspect that you want is the sales person going out there and setting a goal of reaching a destination they’ve never been to,” Houck says, “or they want to take their family to – and going out there and figuring out a way to achieve that goal.”

Even better, sending your rock stars on a trip, to a big game or to a concert creates memories that will last a lifetime – and warm feelings about your company that last far beyond the immediate future.

As for your needs, make sure your provider offers the exact services and types of incentives you are looking for. If you are interested in offering travel, make sure it is a priority for them and that they have a specific department that manages their travel rewards.

Make sure, and this is particularly important in the sales realm, that your team members can keep track of their progress towards their goals in near-real-time. As they are working towards that trip, those tickets, or that big screen tv, they are going to want to know where they stand in the process.  A dashboard or leaderboard they can access anywhere is critical to keeping them motivated.

Sales people can be hard to motivate, and cash just doesn’t work as well as it used to. Any sales incentive program provider you are looking for must be able to truly work with you to tailor your program to help you meet – and exceed – your goals.

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