10 Tips for Maximizing Your
Sales Incentive Program

Many organizations think of their sales incentive programs as a static entity. Once designed, the programs often are not reviewed and updated regularly. As a result, there are increasing challenges to validate the programs’ performance or improve ROI. This is particularly true when designing incentive programs to motivate direct sales teams or independent channel partners, including dealers, distributors and resellers. Without intending to, sales managers may be ignoring simple ways to maximize ROI from their incentive programs—without increasing their existing budgets.

Insights from our own Craig DeWolf were recently published on this topic in the May (print-only) issue of Selling Power. In the article, he provides best practices for organizations to consider when managing their sales incentive programs. He also shares how to better motivate your sales team or partners, meet KPIs, quantify ROI and meet your sales goals.

Here’s an excerpt:

  1. Reward for sales behaviors as well as sales. Most sales incentive programs focus their reward investment on post-sale rewards, but a growing trend is to reward key behaviors that drive more sales. These include training, lead follow-up, reporting new opportunities, and providing demos or evaluation units.
  2. Tailor incentives to roles, segments or geography. One size is not necessarily the best option for all when it comes to sales incentives. Your direct sales team may be segmented by regional managers, sales people, support personnel, marketers, etc. Consider different program components for various combinations of role (or persona), segment or geography.
  3. Give participants what they want. Create compelling rewards for participants based on their interests and preferences. People value choice in all aspects of their lives, and incentives and rewards should be no different.
  4. Test your program before launching. Many organizations launch their sales incentive programs all at once and hope for the best. Instead of arbitrarily assigning rewards before rollout and blindly guessing what will work, run live tests. The data you gather can help create benchmarks for program expansion and help with sales forecasting and budgeting.
  5. Keep it simple by streamlining administration. Cumbersome administrative requirements that suppress participation can kill an otherwise great program before it gets off the ground. You should minimize paperwork, shorten the approval process, and make it easy to deliver rewards that recipients can easily redeem.
  6. Drive engagement with a good communications strategy. Make sure you have a comprehensive communications strategy to generate awareness and drive participation. Then be sure to drive ongoing engagement through continual outreach such as monthly newsletters, program reminders and more.
  7. Set KPIs for goals and reporting. It’s not enough to have a general objective to “increase sales.” Set key performance indicators (KPIs) that incorporate leading indicators as well as performance indicators aligned with your program objectives. Each should be benchmarked against the current status quo so you can measure improvements over time.
  8. Continually monitor program performance. Review your program regularly against the established KPIs. This helps to measure objective feedback to better understand the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the program design and administration. The data you gather can also help create benchmarks for program expansion and help with sales forecasting and budgeting.
  9. Keep your program fresh and relevant. Your business objectives and goals are likely evaluated and adjusted annually. Incentive programs should be treated no differently. You should evolve your program to align with new business goals and to help overcome new challenges.
  10. Expire points. Until reward points are redeemed, your organization may be liable for them as outstanding debt. Incentive programs should expire earned points within a specified period of time.

Check out our easy-to-use sales incentive solutions that encourage the best from your team.  



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