How to incentivise your sales team

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Many companies spend time and money trying to understand what methods they can employ to encourage personnel to work hard and to meet high sales or other targets.

It could be argued that a company’s sales force is its most valuable asset; they need to feel appreciated and well remunerated and, in return, should be more loyal to the company.

But a major problem is what motivates a sales force one year may not do so the next – skills keep evolving as do the demands of the job.  So, in order to get the best out of an incentive programme for your sales team, there are a number of considerations:

Most sales managers will know their salesmen and saleswomen well – what they like, what will motivate them etc.  But consideration needs to be given to differences in age, gender, interests, hobbies etc.  As an example, winning the hire of a Lamborghini for the weekend would appeal to most men, but might not be quite as exciting to a 40 year old woman with a family!

Holidays and weekend breaks are also attractive prizes, but again if members of a sales team have children, this can impact on when and
where they might like to go as school holidays for example would need to be factored in.

This is why retail vouchers are so popular as they cater to both sexes, and to any age group.  The choice available is huge – anything from designer clothes, to electrical goods, homewares, jewellery or furniture.

Before deciding on the incentive itself, the sales administrator needs to start a planning process, in order to establish what should be achieved – whether that be increased sales, or improved output and efficiency.  Decide who the scheme is aimed at, and whether the structure exists to run and measure the scheme.  Key messages should be communicated, as participants will need answers to questions such as

  • what do I have to do?
  • how do I do it?
  • how am I getting on?
  • what’s in it for me?

Comprehensive communication is vital to convey every detail, and avoid misunderstandings from the start.  An incentive programme should be easy to understand, and communication materials such as posters, newsletters etc will help facilitate this.  Some of the budget should be invested in communications materials, and the scheme themed to make it fun for participants.

Ensure that you communicate regularly, using more than one medium.  And update participants regularly on progress, reminding them of the rewards available.

Involvement of senior personnel is instrumental in driving forward any scheme, and in ensuring that a project is workable from an operational point of view.

As everyone likes a public pat on the back, good news stories should be publicised at presentations or conferences.

Finally, the incentives themselves should be handed over personally. Personnel will appreciate their Chairman or Managing Director going to the trouble of giving them their incentive directly.

Catherine Forrest is business incentives manager at House of Fraser

T:  0844 561 1010    W:


Published On: 3rd Jun 2008

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