9 Incredibly useful tips on sales incentive programs

    • February 28, 2022
    • By Amen Mpofu

    You know the feeling of working your heart out in a sales organization without anyone saying kudos. There’s no word of appreciation for your small and big efforts for crushing sales. You feel less valued, and this can lead to discouragement and underperformance. 

    Pay attention: sales managers and CEOs. That’s how your hard-working reps feel if you don’t say bravo for their sterling work. Fortunately, this definitive guide will show you practical and effective sales incentives programs you can implement right away to motivate your team. Dig in and enjoy!

    What is a sales incentive program?


    The advert in full says: 

    “Do you want to work at Uber? We are looking for a Sales Compensation Analyst to support the current Sales Incentive Plans across the APAC region. In this role, you will provide day-to-day support to our Sales Compensation team and work closely with the Global Sales Compensation team for the overall management of the Sales Incentive Program. If you have 4+ years of work experience in sales operations, sales, finance, consulting, or operations, then click on the link below to #apply now!”

    Uber has a sales incentives program for its staff, specifically drivers. The sales compensation analyst will be in charge of the company’s reward scheme.

    A sales incentive program is a reward system for recognizing and appreciating your salespeople for achieving specific sales goals. Incentives can be monetary or non-cash rewards and are over and above sales commissions.

    The primary purpose of sales incentives is to motivate your reps to hit sales targets or exceed their metrics. But a commission is compensation for the seller as a percentage of their sales. 

    5 Types of incentives for salespeople

    What are the types of incentives? There are five kinds of incentives that you can use to influence your salesforce. 

    types of incentives

    1. Role-specific incentives

    Your sales team is made up of individuals with different abilities and roles. Some are like Olympian champs, while others perform below expectations. Reps also have separate tasks at each stage of the buying process.  As a result, you need to structure your incentive programs to accommodate everyone.

    A five-star salesperson would need a tiered-incentive system that rewards them every time they reach a milestone.  That’s because if you incentivize them for the entire sales metric or goal, they can lose steam once they’ve met the quota.  So, to keep them on their toes and firing from all cylinders, break down the milestone and rewards.

    A multi-layered incentive system is inclusive-even the average performers can receive something for their achievement. You could also have rewards for prospecting, lead generation, closing deals, etc. 

    2. Split incentives

    You may have salespeople working as a team in a specific territory or handling a complex product with advanced features. For example, a sales leader, a product manager, and a rep could launch a new product with extra features. 

    In the above cases, a split incentive would be more suitable to motivate each stakeholder for a successful product sale. Each seller might receive a portion equal to what others get or a distribution you’ve discussed with each group.  It’s a great way to motivate underperformers to work harder to ensure the team wins.

    3. Presale incentives

    Presale incentives take into account longer sales cycles for particular products. Your company could have the best marketing efforts and top-class salespeople. However, some products can take ages to reach the closing stage. As a result, sellers have to develop stretching touchpoints before the prospect warms up to a purchase. 

    In this situation, it’s advisable to create presale incentives for each part of the sales process to keep sales reps fired up. Instead of incentivizing closing deals, you can reward sales professionals for demos, scheduled meetings, etc. 

    4. Omnichannel incentives

    Today’s customers are tech-savvy and know how to use the internet through multi-channels to help them choose products they prefer. Some buyers might purchase something because of an email or a phone call they receive from a seller. Or the prospect could interact with a salesperson on Twitter, etc., and ends up buying or subscribing to a product/service. 

    Omnichannel incentives recognize that salespeople use digital channels to engage customers. You can use these rewards for salespeople who successfully lead potential customers to buy through specific online channels. 

    5. Advanced analytics-based target setting

    You can design a sales incentive program based on analyzing the salesforce’s behavior in the sales field. In this case, you depend on activity metrics that show the daily tasks of a sales representative. For example, your sales dashboard may reveal that some reps have scheduled more meetings or closed deals than others. You then incentivize each seller according to their sales data.

    As a sales leader, you also need to appreciate what motivates people before developing a reward program.

    What motivates people?

    Sales reps fall into one of the following groups.

    Stars Performers

    You can motivate these top performers on your sales team through traditional incentive schemes, like public recognition, cash, or trips. Star reps respond positively to standard incentive plans.

    Core performers

    Core performers make up the largest group and achieve moderate results.  They’re consistent and dependable salespeople. You can adopt a three-tiered incentive program to turn core performers into champs. 

    The first tier involves rewarding core sales reps for reaching sales that were not a challenge in the past. The second incentive layer is ideal for hitting sales that a few sellers met previously. And the third tier is incentivizing salespeople for crushing sales targets you expect of the top cream. 


    You have underperformers on your team you can influence through a carrot and stick approach.  That’s because rewards, whether cash or non-cash, may not be enough to inspire this class. A carrot- a positive incentive, such as a bonus, can lead average sellers to improve. You can also use a stick-a negative reward, like an improvement plan, to move the reps forward. The last one puts pressure on the seller to catch up with others.

    Now let’s dive into some ideas for rewarding your salesforce.

    Sales incentives ideas for salespeople

    What are examples of sales incentives? Sales Performance Incentive Funds (SPIFs) are examples of sales incentives to improve outcomes and encourage sellers to push harder. SPIFs can be cash or non-cash prizes.

    Cash rewards

    cash rewards

    Traditional sales incentives programs involving cash are still effective for many reps. The incentive can be a commission or a bonus in addition to the basic salary that an individual receives. Standard compensation is for the seller’s responsibilities, including admin work, lead generation, prospecting, etc.

    Determine the commission structure for the commission-based incentive. For example, you can give a rep hard cash to reach a particular product sales milestone. Or the reward could be for achieving/exceeding a sales quota, closing a specific deal value, etc. 

    It’s good practice to incentivize your reps even before customers pay their invoices. When the deal has gone smoothly, there’s no need to delay the commission payout. However, remove the ceiling on the commission for this program to work effectively.  

    Uncapped commissions lead to more company revenue because salespeople put extra effort to earn a lot of money. But their energy can fizzle out if you put a limit to commissions.

    Incentive - HVAC

    Non-monetary incentives

    There is a wide range of non-cash rewards you can use to boost sales performance. Check out the following brilliant examples.

    Activity-based prizes

    Entertainment or outdoor rewards are an excellent way to help your reps unwind after a hard month’s work. Use the following super ideas to kickstart your incentive program.

    • A festival ticket or concert ticket
    • Theme Park tickets
    • Sports tickets
    • Camping or boating trips are excellent outdoor excursions
    • Visiting a museum or art gallery
    • Comedy club outing
    • Climbing rocks
    • Skydiving
    • Bungy jump
    • Zipline
    • Games such as escape rooms

    Personal growth-based incentives

    You can help your salesforce develop and grow their skills by offering them development rewards. Sellers can participate in a course or a seminar for upskilling. Check out the following great ideas to get you started.

    • Public speaking seminars by sales experts
    • Discounts for attending a gym or a fitness program
    • Online sales training courses
    • Training for personal development
    • Classes to learn new languages
    • Cooking classes

    Physical prizes

    Product/tangible rewards that improve the reps’ workflow are also fun to motivate your salesforce. They can be resources sellers can use at home, as well. Try to provide a seller with three options to widen their choice. Examples include:

    • Office equipment, such as desks
    • A hobby gadget, such as a musical instrument
    • Wearable technology or accessories such as sports watches, iPhone tablets, and earbuds
    • Small home appliances, like coffee or juice makers,

    Travel incentives

    These are also brilliant gifts to recognize and appreciate the salesperson’s achievements. They can create good lasting memories for your team. Here are some creative ideas.

    • Vacation discounted by your company
    • Retreat for your team
    • Paid hotel expenses for an outing
    Incentives - Insurance

    Subscription rewards

    Many sellers work remotely, and one way of motivating them is by rewarding them with subscription boxes. These are personalized products that salespeople receive while they work at home. Examples include:

    Rep recognition

    When you recognize a rep’s performance, they feel honored and part and parcel of your company’s success. You can incorporate the fantastic ideas below into your rewards system.

    • Praising the seller in your online community channels, e.g., Slack
    • Recognition in front of the C-level management/senior management
    • Having lunch with the CEO 

    A billboard

    This sales incentive promises to erect a billboard with the seller’s name and preferred content for hitting specific sales over a particular period. It’s a unique reward that can inspire and challenge your team. 

    VIP parking 

    You can try offering top achievers VIP parking for a month.  It can be a powerful motivator as it sends a message of success to others.

    Extra PTO

    Your hard-working salespeople would also be thankful for the time off from work. It allows them to reset, spend time with friends, family, and refresh. As a result, productivity can skyrocket as they resume work with new vigor and energy.

    How to make your incentives programs successful?

    Incentive Solutions is a reputable firm helping companies implement incentives schemes. Paying attention to the following four essential aspects can make your incentives program effective.

    Structure and strategy

    Your incentive program should have the following details to be successful.

    • Sales goals that are specific and measurable
    • Knowing your audience and its source of motivation
    • Developing a sales plan, an incentive structure, and deploying resources where you’ll maximize benefits
    • Personalizing rewards and creating several promotions

    Sales goals, such as selling a specific amount of a product, etc., determine the sales incentive program for your staff. Sales data also influences how your reps participate in the scheme and earn rewards. It’s critical to spend your budget where you can reap massive benefits when you roll out the reward plan.

    Engaging and communicating

    Sales teams need up-to-date information about marketing campaigns, new promotions, and new products. Educating and engaging your reps guarantees a successful incentive program. Following are some ways you can use to keep everyone in the know. 

    • Omnichannel communication platforms
    • A mobile app every seller can access
    • Platforms offering gamification
    • Online quizzes and surveys for sales training
    • Manager-to-peer and peer-to-peer platforms to facilitate social recognition
    • Software for monitoring key metrics

    Recognizing and rewarding employees

    A well-designed sales incentive system should create solid relationships and improve the employee retention rate of top performers. As we mentioned earlier, non-monetary recognition can keep your stars motivated. Examples include

    • Travel rewards
    • Incentives for purchases of goods
    • Recognition on social media
    • Interactive letter boards show salespeople that your company values them

    Personalizing rewards and creating several promotions

    A great reward plan needs to provide real-time data regarding product sales and sales reps’ activities. Your sales team can use sales enablement tools or software to produce reports on sales performance. You can monitor reward account and engagement stats to find out about the motivation levels of your salesforce.

    Let’s wind up by jumping into the massive benefits of an incentive program for your business.

    Why are sales incentives important?

    A sales incentive plan has several incredible benefits, which include: 

    Boosts team productivity

    A well-structured sales incentive system that motivates salespeople to reach goals or crush sales numbers can lead to skyrocketing productivity. Also, your sellers can sharpen their selling techniques which improve sales performance. They also learn to work together as a unified team.

    Improves work engagement

    Recognizing reps’ efforts through cash and non-cash rewards enables staff to concentrate on their sales activities. They feel under healthy pressure to do better at every sales cycle stage. As a result, work collaboration and engagement increases.

    employee engagement

    Leads to higher job satisfaction levels

    Incentives can lead to job satisfaction as your company honors employees for achieving specific milestones. When managers notice their hard work, workers feel respected, valued, and appreciated.

    job satisfaction

    Increases team collaboration

    Split incentives are a great way to encourage your sales reps to collaborate in joint sales projects. They can cooperate and share selling strategies because if the team wins, everyone benefits. Average performers can also learn one or two valuable things from the champs. 

    Boosts morale

    Sellers can develop a positive attitude towards work as their performance and productivity improve. Their confidence levels go up, leading to balanced optimism about hitting quotas.

    Wrapping up

    What is the best sales incentive? Your company can use two main sales performance incentives funds (SPIFs) to motivate your salesforce. SPIFs can be monetary, like hard cash or non-cash rewards, such as discounted travel.  An effective reward plan should use both incentives because different things inspire salespeople to work harder. 

    Written by Amen Mpofu

    Amen Mpofu is a zestful SEO writer specializing in creating life-changing content. He’s also an author of two books, available on Amazon.

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