Incentive Programs 101: What is a Sales Incentive Program?

by: Luke Kreitner September 2, 2020

What is a sales incentive program? A sales incentive program is a plan or strategy used to improve sales performance by motivating salespeople to surpass company- determined performance metrics.

Sales incentive programs make use of both non-cash rewards as well as cash-based SPIFFs as part of an additional (yet separate) motivational tool to a standard sales compensation plan.

Why are sales incentive programs important?

A study conducted by the Incentive Research Foundation revealed that 90% of top performing companies, vetted extensively for high revenues, notable stock growth, and excellent customer and employee ratings, use a sales incentive program.

In other words, successful businesses know that acquiring a top sales team is vital to the success of a company. Sales incentive programs not only inspire a 44% potential increase in sales, but they are also a way to inspire loyalty in your employees by recognizing their value and rewarding them for their contributions.

What are examples of good sales incentives?

The key to identifying a “good” sales incentive lies in understanding your sales team. No two sales people are alike, and varying personalities, interests, and motivations will shape how effective your sales incentive rewards can be.

While this information may reveal a somewhat impossible task for sales managers, the reality is that effective sales incentives are in constant need of a “refresh” to keep your sales people on their toes. The good news: sales incentive program providers have experience with a variety of reward options and can help determine the best variety of options to fit your specific audience. Some examples of good sales incentives include:

    • Luxury group incentive travel for top earners;
    • Rebates or SPIFFs via debit card rewards;
    • Company recognition through on-the-spot rewards and an active leaderboard system;
    • Physical prizes such as top-rated tech gadgets or picks from an online merchandise catalog;
    • Point programs allowing personalized redemption for concerts, event tickets, or travel rewards; and
    • Gift card options to hundreds of retailers, restaurants, or service providers.

How do you create a sales incentive program?

Whether a company chooses to designate reward and recognition responsibilities to a sales manager, or enlist the help of a sales incentive program provider, implementing a successful sales incentive program requires key steps to make sure your efforts have a lasting effect. These steps include:

  1. Specifying the goals of your program. The more specific, the better!
  2. Establishing your budget.
  3. Studying your audience to determine what motivates them the most.
  4. Choosing your reward options.
  5. Identifying the key performance indicators (KPI’s) that will help monitor program success.
  6. Structuring specific sales promotions.
  7. Engaging your sales team and educating them on the rules.
  8. Tracking sales reports and analyzing the effectiveness of your efforts.
  9. Enhancing your current promotions to improve and grow your program.

Looking for more information on sales incentives?

With over 25 years in the incentive industry, Incentive Solutions has a variety of resources for your viewing. Check out our sales incentive FAQs, or read our most recently released white paper study on the benchmarks of sales incentive programs.

And, as always, we offer free consultations and product demos with our sales incentive program experts. Happy sales incentive program hunting!

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Blog image by Austin Distel


About Luke Kreitner

Luke Kreitner is the VP of Sales at Incentive Solutions, an Atlanta-based incentive company that specializes in helping B2B businesses accelerate growth, increase sales, motivate channel partners and retain B2B customers.