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Think about salespeople and you think of stereotypes: people who are motivated only by money; risk takers who thrive on the adrenaline of a potential massive payoff; territorial lone wolves who aren't team players; nine-to-fivers who are inherently lazy and will only work hard when incentivized with a big carrot.

Are some salespeople like this? Sure. But most of them are just like every other professional, whether in your marketing, HR, or finance departments! Most wake up in the morning wanting to come to work and excel at what they do best: sell.

Salespeople were paid by incentives for centuries before economists began writing about the principal-agent problem. Companies chose this system for at least three reasons. First, it’s easy to measure the short-term output of a salesperson. Second, sales reps have traditionally worked with little supervision since incentive-based pay gives managers some control, making up for their inability to know if a rep is actually working or playing golf. Third, studies of personality type show that salespeople typically have a larger appetite for risk than other workers, so a pay plan that incentivizes this appeals to them.

Reasons why most sales commision plans don't work

You can use a single question to determine how experienced a sales manager is: “What has a bigger impact on your team’s success: sales skills or motivation?”

Newer managers tend to say the former, while more experienced ones choose the latter.

The reality is, motivation isn’t just a little more important than sales skills — it’s far more influential. While individual selling styles, methodologies, and processes might differ, core sales techniques don’t change.

Keeping your team members engaged, uplifted, and inspired is often far trickier than teaching them what to say on a connect call or in a prospecting email. A well-designed sales contest is one of the best tools in your pocket.

But not all sales contests work.

Reasons why sales contests fail

Studies have shown that employees also want meaningful work, the right tools to do their job, and flexibility when they need it. They want to feel valued. And that starts with the right incentive framework.

Most companies, however, don’t have one. They’re either using Excel or some clunky software to handle it for them. If your plan causes arguments every month, and contains so many errors, reps keep their own records, it’s time you threw it out and started afresh.

How you compensate is just as important as what you compensate. If your employees don’t love your incentive plan, it won’t matter how much you pay them – they’ll never feel valued.

Here are three things that your sales reps love in a incentive plan.

1. A simple incentive plan that is easy to follow

If your incentive plan is not transparent and causes confusion, accurate numbers won’t matter because your sales reps still won’t know if they’re being appropriately rewarded. The plan must be “easy” in all ways: easy to use, easy to understand, and completely transparent. That way, your sales reps can focus on selling instead of calculating incentives.

With Compass, you can build incentive plans with just variables. Compass lets you easily capture live data and auto-calculates, real-time. You can easily build complex incentive programs with the familiarity of Excel within a few clicks.

2. Rewarding and motivating the middle performers

Middlers represent the most underutilized capital in business. And they are proof that sometimes, the gold we are chasing sits right under our noses. While some sales reps will excel at closing billion dollar deals, others will sell your best products, while others still might be the best at managing client relations. If you want your sales reps to love your incentive plan, you need to find a way to reward all types of salespeople, fairly.

With Compass, you can configure the milestone-based sales contest that can be used when you have a large sales target and want to break the target milestones where you reward not just the winner but small steps to winning which improves motivation by leaps and bounds.

3. Give out meaningful rewards

When you calculate incentives on Excel spreadsheets, you get the final incentive value. But there is no way you can automate it to release payments. More often than not, organizations either give out cash vouchers, which are difficult to administer and transfer to the correct rep, or brand vouchers which may not be really relevant for all sales reps.

With Compass, you don’t limit your payment options to brand vouchers or gift cards. You can give out reward points for each success and users can redeem the earned incentives across 20,000+ digital gift cards, prepaid cards, experiences, and wallets across 80+ countries making them truly meaningful.

Compass can simplify the most complex incentive plans and help you build a plan that your sales reps love.

Compass lets you integrate and stream data from your CRMs and just relax! We’ve built a system that you can deploy from get-go, with easy-to-publish game templates, auto-calculation to avoid errors and accessible insights. And of course, our implementation engineers are always there to back you up.

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Xoxoday Compass Team