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How to Increase Sales with Creative Sales Incentive Programs

Updated on November 13, 2012

Keep Your Sales Force Happy & Motivated

Sales incentives go a long way in general moral and motivation. When every day is the same and you're out there trying to sell a product for years on end, it's nice to have a shake up and something new to look forward to. Your business is dependent upon sales people, so keep them happy, motivated and listen to what their actions are telling you. If they don't seem to care about a particular incentive and no one is going for it, ask them why. Either the incentive isn't a desirable one or the contest is too difficult.

Keep It Simple, Offer GREAT Incentives and Make it a BIG DEAL

  1. Keep it simple. The incentive rewards program should be simple and clear cut. The biggest turn off for an employee is when they can't even understand the program and they don't know how they're doing. Make a simple Goal/Reward chart and make sure employees can check in on their status at least once a week.
  2. Don't skimp on the rewards. If you want great results from the employees you have complete control over that and it starts with your hard work in finding a reward that is truly GREAT. Don't take the easy way out and just go buy an ipod to give away. Figure out what your employees truly value and want/need.
  3. Include secondary long range goals. Along with a sales goal to reach for, have a secondary goal that is a building block for future sales. For instance, have employees compete for sales, but also for generating leads. You'll benefit from this contest far into the future rather than just have sales on the up tick for one short period of time.
  4. Make sure you have many levels of reward. If you have at least one somewhat low yet very attainable goal, everyone will at least try to reach that goal. The less motivated employees will even at least want to get that low dangling carrot. It should still be something that they need to go out of their way for, but not something that takes super success to get. Who knows, maybe a little bit of success will make them work even harder to reach the next goal.
  5. Keep employees up to date on how they're doing. For instance, maybe every Friday during the program you make a big deal about how it's going and show what has been working for the top employees.
  6. Make it a big deal. The announcement of the contest should be a big deal. Maybe buy everyone pizza and announce the contest over lunch (if you have a small office of course). Or make a couple of announcement that a special contest will be announce on Monday. Continue to make it a big deal the whole way through and really make a big deal about the winners. One of my old employers always had a million sales contests going on and we'd get an email at the end saying who won, but we never heard anything up until then. The contests were all described online and you had to hunt for the complicated specifics. I could never even tell if my results made it into the system or how I was doing. One time I won a contest, didn't know it and just got a gift card for 500 dollars in the mail. Just the card, nothing with it and no official announcement. What a waste of their 500 dollars. I was excited of course, but I didn't really think they cared that much that I killed the contest.

Specific Tips & Ideas:

1. If you're wondering what you think your employees would value most as an incentive, ask them! The most important thing is that they see the incentive as something that they really want. In these tough economic times, you might find that your employees really want cash or practical prizes like $500 at Whole Foods. Even if you have a high end business where employees are making great salaries and not really hurting, you'd be surprised to hear that they're even having troubles these days. Even if it's not cash, sometimes if it's bordering on practical that's good too. Including something their whole family would like helps too. Maybe you offer something that everyone needs, but it's still a luxury item that might be a huge upgrade for them. Here are a few ideas: furniture store gift cards (try to make those for at least $1000 so that they can actually get something), big flat screen tvs, blue ray players, a king sized memory foam bed, iphones for the whole family.

2. Be creative. You want to offer something that is really cool. It goes a long way to show that you've worked as hard as you're asking them to work to make the contest really great. it should be something they can't believe you even have to offer. Someone on your staff should try to get the kind of prizes that seem unattainable. If you have a popular concert coming to town, contact the manager of the star (you can usually find an email address online) and ask if there will be a meet and greet and if one of your employees could go to it. Lots of celebs have at least a small meet and greet before or after the show. It won't always work, but it's worth asking. In your email, be friendly, tell them you know they're busy and ask for just 'after show passes' or 'meet and greet passes'. Tell them you've already purchased the tickets. It's a lot easier for them to say yes to meeting the star than to also have to offer free tickets. Especially if it's a big city, sometimes they don't have a lot of comps to offer and will say no just because they don't have tickets to spare. You should try to somehow connect this with a non-profit. For example, you give money to the artists favorite non-profit and you want to reward the employee by them getting a quick meeting.

3. When you have a winner, tell them how much you appreciate their hard work.Write a personal note. The big prize is great, but hearing from your boss that you are an important part of the company and that you're glad they're choosing to work there means a lot too. You want employees to really feel like an important part of the company.


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