Sales Incentives FAQ

What is a sales incentives plan?

A sales incentives plan is a structured program that aligns rewards with sales performance-related goals, such as increasing gross sales, selling more of a specific product, or for improving response times. By aligning individual goals with organizational goals, sales incentives plans are typically used to increase overall sales or improve customer satisfaction.


How do you create a sales incentive program?

Creating a sales incentive can typically be broken down into the following steps:

  1. Ask yourself: “What measurable outcome(s) do I hope to achieve through my sales incentives program?” For example, your goal might be to increase gross sales across your entire organization, or it might be to improve the performance of a specific product line.
  2. Decide what KPIs (key performance indicators) or leading indicators you should incentivize to enable your sales team to reach their overall goal. If your goal is to increase gross sales, you might structure incentives to align with assembling a hunt list or for performances on interactive quizzes to improve product knowledge.
  3. Determine which rewards will most effectively motivate your sales reps. For top performers, incentive travel, custom reward redemptions, or high-value merchandise rewards might be necessary to make them feel like the reward is equal to their effort. However, in order to motivate middling or average performers, you would need to provide smaller rewards for more attainable goals, such as a movie ticket or a pair of Apple AirPods.
  4. Create an effective plan of action to market your sales incentive program to your sales team. Sales reps are often busy, and an incentive program might not seem high priority to them at the moment. Gamification techniques or point bonuses can be used to enroll sales reps and get them interacting with your incentive programs long enough to see the value proposition for themselves.
  5. Provide intuitive, interactive participant portals where your sales reps can quickly see the latest promotions, track their progress towards their goals, and redeem for rewards.
  6. Enhance engagement with competitive leaderboards to appeal to the competitive nature of your sales teams.
  7. Make sure to deliver exceptional reward experiences, so that your sales reps feel like their extra effort was worth it!

What are good sales incentives?

Good sales incentives are ones that effectively inspire better performance from your sales team. Which rewards make good sales incentives depends on which segment of your sales team you’re attempting to motivate. For top performers, meaningful recognition or a group incentive travel trip to an exclusive locale might be an effective motivator. For the middling majority of your sales reps, scalable sales incentives, in the form of gift cards or merchandise, will give them attainable goals, as well as the potential to earn higher value rewards to inspire them to make that extra push.


What is the difference between commission and incentives?

Commission is an income payment in cash form, usually as a percentage of a product or service sold. An incentive, on the other hand, is usually a non-monetary reward, which is used to motivate someone towards higher achievement. Commission is strictly tied to sales performance, whereas an incentive can be used for a broader range of applications. For instance, incentives can be awarded for providing exceptional service, for upselling specific products, for uploading relevant sales data, for warranty submissions, for customer loyalty, and more. In addition, incentives, typically being non-cash, are more memorable and inspire longer-lasting changes in behavior.

Do sales incentives work?

Sales incentives can be used to make a measurable impact on a company’s bottom line. Below are a few numbers from case studies:

  • Using a sale incentive program, a major casualty insurance distribution company increased new insurance policy sales by 19%.
  • Using a contractor sales incentive, a Fortune 500 HVAC manufacturer was able to motivate their channel partners to promote a specific product for a 307% ROI.

These findings were in line with a study from the Incentive Research Foundation, which found that companies with high customer satisfaction and loyalty, above average customer acquisition rates, and significant year-over-year growth, are statistically more likely to use a sales incentive program than average firms.


Learn from our incentive experts by downloading one of our free ebooks!

Manufacturer Incentive Ebook Release

Incentive Program Secrets for Manufacturers

An exploration of the challenges facing manufacturers today. Arm yourself with actionable advice for identifying where (and how) incentives can make the biggest impact in your channel.

Incentive Program Playbook

The BthruB Incentive
Program Playbook

A step-by-step outline for structuring your incentive program for sustainable ROI. Download your copy to learn more about the latest in incentive strategy!

Incentive programs guide

Guide to a Successful Dealer Incentive Program

A succinct guide for creating a successful channel incentive program. Download your copy to learn more about how to use incentives to increase sales across your distribution channel.