Performance Based Incentive Plans for Insurance Sales Reps

by: Mark Herbert August 17, 2021

Performance based incentive plans can definitely help you motivate insurance sales reps and maximize each salesperson’s individual performance. But how well is your incentive plan itself performing? Do you have a formalized method of measure the program’s ROI and the sales increases it yields? Do you have a plan to scale your incentive program over time, so its successes are replicated and expanded? There are multiple methods you can use to assess, improve, and grow your incentive program. Here are a few that I recommend:

Consult experts on your incentive program planning.

As industries fill with an ever-increasing number of business software solutions, more specialized and niches areas of expertise are carved out. Leverage those experts! Especially if you’re working with an incentive program provider, you should have expertise as your disposal. If you don’t feel free to pick up the phone and call your incentive program provider to pick their brain(s) about your incentive strategy, consider looking elsewhere for a company that can act as a valued collaboration partner.

Some of the areas experts can help you with include:

  • Goal-setting

    Every incentive plan has at least one overarching goal. Engaging customers, elevating customer retention, and increasing sales are all examples of such goals. These goals are incomplete, however. Your incentive program goals should be highly specific, data-driven, measurable, and realistic.

    The best incentive program goals come from companies bringing in-depth knowledge of their industry and organization to the table, then collaborating with incentive experts who have years of experience creating successful incentive strategies.

  • Strategic structuring

    Who does your performance based incentive plan aim to influence? Which rewards will you use? How often will rewards be distributed, and for what behaviors? Which tools and technology will you use to accomplish your goals? These are all questions that can and should be answered with incentive experts’ input. Having references and examples of successful incentive program success—especially in industries similar to yours—will give you better insight into which specific features help you achieve your goals.

  • Data science and business analysis

    You can gain a major advantage by thinking outside the books and working with consultants who can approach your business or your industry with a fresh perspective. Even the best of us get stuck in a rut or slip into auto-pilot when it comes to the business roles we’re familiar with. Psychological studies tell us that too much routine and repetition can stifle creativity.

    While you should always hear input from industry, process, and technology experts, don’t be afraid to seek counsel outside these realms. A data analyst or engineer, for example, might be able to pinpoint anomalies in your distribution channel or sales trends that you wouldn’t have thought to look for.

Rely on incentive marketing professionals.

No doubt, you have very talented in-house marketers. . . who are great at marketing your product. How much experience do they have marketing an incentive program? Better yet, can they be pulled away from their current projects to market the incentive program? Answering these questions will help you decide if you’re in a good position to outsource incentive marketing to the experts. Here are some of the ways they could help improve your program:

incentive program communications

  • Strategic communication plans

    Increase program awareness, boost enrollment and account activation, stimulate reward redemptions, and raise participation rates with strategic, long-term communication plans.

  • Multichannel marketing tools

    Heinz Marketing estimates that companies who use and integrate all communication channels are twice as successful as those using fewer channels. Incentive marketing experts can help you communicate with participating sales agents using a multichannel strategy, including email, call campaigns, flyers/postcards, texts, and announcements on the program website.

  • Marketing email enhancements

    Improve incentive program email performance with enhancements such as professionally- designed templates, scheduling, email-triggering, automation, and a drag & drop editor.

Work with experts to measure and assess incentive program performance.

Just as incentive program providers can help you establish proper goals and structure for performance based incentive plans, they can help you prove and present the true benefits and ROI of the plan. Here are a few of the key factors incentive strategists can help you with:

  • Identifying and tracking key performance indicators

    Identifying key performance indicators (KPIs) alongside the incentive program’s goals will allow you to keep track of the program’s progress toward its objectives. Incentive experts can make sure you’re looking at the right data, in the right places. Are email open-rates less-than-stellar? Did the program launch with lower enrollment numbers than is desirable? Pinpointing important KPIs can help you address potential issues early on.

  • Assessing benchmark metrics

    What are the success stats of a thriving incentive program? How many enrollees should it have within the first month to be set for triumph? What should the average monthly reward redemption rate be? Incentive planning experts should have access to benchmark data that can answer questions like these. When you know the metrics of a successful incentive plan, you know whether your own is set up to achieve great results.

  • Calculating ROI

    Proving and presenting incentive program ROI isn’t always a straight-forward process. Whether or not the incentive plan achieved its main goal isn’t the only important result. Which of the incentive plan’s tactics caused the biggest or most direct change in behaviors, for example? How do non-participating agent’s revenue contributions compare to participating agents’? What was the internal workload (if any) required to achieve the incentive plan’s goals? Addressing these questions with incentive experts will help you present a fuller and more accurate picture of the incentive plan’s performance.

Performance based incentive plans help you drive insurance sales reps to succeed, but who’s driving the driver? Without the proper data, expertise, planning, and measuring, incentive programs with great potential risk getting shafted because they were set up for failure. Avoid this by basing your incentive plan on expert consultation, hard data, and a comprehensive assessment of all the contributing factors. These extra precautions help you leverage more opportunities and build more effective incentive strategies.


About Mark Herbert

Mark Herbert is President and CEO of Incentive Solutions. He has more than 30 years of experience overseeing business operations within the incentives industry, helping companies increase channel sales, build customer loyalty, motivate employees, and grow their business.