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The proverbial ‘dangling carrot’ is one of the oldest motivation tricks that understood the heart of human behaviour, psychology and, in this, employee incentive program.

The reason why the technique stood the test of time is because it works! For those who say, 'it doesn't work', don’t execute the elements of the technique properly — therefore leading to under performance and failure.

Having the same old sales incentive programs can become dull and disappointing for both your high performing salespeople and your sales growth. It's time to look for a program that motivates your sales staff and trigger productivity.

“Without change, there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement.” - William Pollard

The Issue with Today’s Sales Incentive Programs

An increasing amount of sales ventures today are unable to meet one or both vital conditions for regular and traditional incentive plans to work. Numerous effects on purchasing diminish individual salesmen's effect and the ability to measure it. This may blur the association between personal endeavor, results, and incentives in the brains of sales reps. Motivators become indistinct and are not, at this point successful at fulfilling and encouraging people.

Why are not all Salespeople Motivated?

• The 80/20 rule in sales performance:

According to the 80/20 rule, aka Pareto principle, 20% of your company's salespeople generate 80% of the sales revenue. In such cases, a universalized sales incentive plan that is geared for the entire sales force is the wrong choice. No one size fits all. You see, the top 20% are already motivated. You need an incentive program that not only lights a fire under their belly, but is also adaptive, and tracks the growth of every single performer in a seamless and cost-efficient manner.

• The KISS principle:

The KISS principle, an acronym for "keep it simple, stupid" or "keep it stupid simple" says that system works best when they are kept simple, rather than being complicated. This holds very true to salespeople. Their nature is like electricity; they always embark the path of least resistance. Many types of incentive programs fail because of their complexities in recording, reporting and rewarding systems. They are the recipe of confusion and failure.

Sales Incentive Program Best Practices

Incentive programs need to be sweet, smooth and doable. There should be no room for ambiguity. Apart from that, your incentive program should also have the following elements -

1. Educate people about your program

For an invention to sell, you need a salesperson and customer to understand it's value. Similarly, for your incentive program to work, you need users and administrators to understand it. Most motivational programs fail to work because they are either not rolled out or managed properly. Hence, you need to understand the program you (or your team) designed and then educate the users and administrators (who will lead the application of it).

2. Right kind of program promotion

We all have heard of the line - "Timing is everything!" This is a piece of excellent advice for an incentive program planner. Incentive programs, like new movie releases, should be exciting and anticipated. The right amount of promotion ensures greater interest and acceptance from users (salespeople).

Right kind of program promotion

3. Immediate Reward

What ticks your salesperson the most? It's the reward and incentives that they get for each successful sale. However, when the time taken between winning and getting a reward is too long, the situation becomes anticlimactic, and your employees become unmotivated. Successful incentive programs reward immediately! Faster the reward is delivered, the higher the enthusiasm for the incentive program.

4. Recognition

We all know that there is no such thing as too much recognition. Like any other performer, salespeople by nature are drawn towards the limelight. Hence, achievements, acknowledgment and recognition - on time - can go a long way. “Recognition is proven as among the best methods of improving work motivation and employee engagement.” The pursuit of recognition in itself can make a big difference in targeting that critical 20% on the sales achievement ladder. Another thing that is often overlooked is that recognition is the least expensive (it's usually free) means of motivation. For example, shaking hands form the CEO/Founder of the company can quickly galvanize the need to win.


While designing a sales-incentive program, there are no definite answers to the building blocks a company should adopt. The key is to strike the right balance between the design that comprises the elements of the sales incentive program mentioned above and the plan focused on making it easily understandable for the sales team. In the end, your decision should be based on a company's overall sales strategy, key goals and its go-to-market model.

Looking for a way to run a successful sales incentive program? Well your wait is over. Compass is the #1 Incentive Gamification Software for Revenue Engines. The Perfect Sales & Channel Incentives Solution. Want to know more? Book a demo now.

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Xoxoday Compass Team