What Are Sales Incentives and Why You Should Use Them

by | August 27, 2018 | Blog

In the past few weeks, we’ve examined why potential clients should choose a group travel program and special promotions. This week, we wanted to look at the questions, “what are sales incentives” and why targeting your direct or indirect sales team with an incentive program could be the right choice for you.

Reasons For a Sales Incentive

There are many reasons why an organization might choose an incentive strategy that targets sales growth. Some of these include:

  • Accelerating sales of specific products. This could focus on a product line or specific SKU that’s lagging, or it could involve a strategy to support a new product launch.
  • Motivating underperforming sales personnel. In the incentive world, we sometimes call this group the “Middle 60%,” and research has pointed to the fact that its members often have the most growth potential of any segment of your sales audience.
  • Recognizing top performers. This group already does a great job for your organization. Why not acknowledge their success with a reward-based sales incentive?
  • Exceeding existing performance goals. Maybe you’re satisfied with your team’s overall sales performance. Or maybe it could be better. To understand this gap between what is and what could be, you’ll want to give your sales force a new target to aim for, one that goes beyond past expectations and objectives.
  • Growing mindshare (and market share) in a competitive market. An indirect sales force might have a number of product options to sell from. How do you get them to more consistently push yours?

There are, of course, other reasons why an organization might want to stimulate sales growth directly, and for every organizational need, there’s going to be a unique sales incentive solution that can help address it.

That’s why it’s important to understand your sales data and sales personnel, to examine how they’ve performed in the past, and recognize where there might be opportunities to improve in the future.

This knowledge lays the groundwork for developing a blueprint to sales growth and will help you further down the line when you’re deciding which type of sales incentive is right for your organization.

How To Choose The Right Sales Incentive

Once you’ve recognized the performance gaps in your sales strategy, how do you decide on the right approach to fix them? Well, as complex as your organizational challenges might be, answering a few basic questions can get the ball rolling and help you select the appropriate sales incentive solution:

  1. What are your sales goals and objectives? What are the measurable results you are looking to achieve?
  2. Who is your audience? What are their demographics? What motivates them?
  3. What’s your program budget? Is it open-ended or fixed?

By coming up with concrete answers to these preliminary questions, you can get a better idea of which type of sales incentive will most effectively address your company’s challenges and lead to higher sales growth. This could mean incorporating some form of eLearning solution, enhancing with a special promotion, or adding on a grand prize group travel element.


Want a deep dive into sales incentives and how you can make them achieve your goals? Check out our ebook, Sales Incentives: How, Why, and ROI


How Do You Make a Sales Incentive Work?

Once you’ve decided how you want to stimulate sales growth, the next step is to actually implement the incentive solution. To do this, there are five basic steps to follow:

  1. Assign strategic goals to the individuals and/or teams who make up your audience.
  2. Communicate regularly with your audience using consistent messaging.
  3. Measure and monitor participant progress and regularly update participants on their status.
  4. Reward goal achievers with memorable and meaningful rewards.
  5. Analyze results and modify the program to enhance success in subsequent program iterations.

Ways to Enhance Your Program

Finally, one of the best things about an incentive that targets sales growth is that it can be enhanced in any number of ways.

For example, say you want to inspire your best salespeople, and you know they’re ultra-competitive. One way to really bring out their competitive spirit is to introduce gamification elements like leaderboards that can showcase individual success.

Alternatively, a sales incentive can feature special promotions that generate targeted bursts of excitement within the greater concept of the incentive program.

So maybe you have specific quarterly goals you want your team to meet, in addition to the greater sales goals motiving your general incentive strategy. In this case, a turnkey special promotion can simply be added without any disruption to the existing program.


Ultimately, the real question regarding sales growth is “How?” not “Why?” Increasing sales is an obvious goal of any successful company. But finding effective ways to motivate your sales force—and grow sales in the process—is one of the key challenges to sustained business success.

Each industry presents its own unique challenges to sales growth, and every company in those industries is always seeking ways to “outgrow” their competitors. And while a sales incentive strategy may not be the solution to everything, when it comes to growing sales, it can become the solution for anything.









Photo by Brad Barmore on Unsplash

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