Incentive Compensation Guide - Drive Winning Sales Behaviors

For sales teams, incentive compensation is a balancing act.  There’s nothing less inspiring than a complacent sales team.  These are the people who are selling your goods and services.  You need your sales team to be on its toes and ready to not only make the sale, but to upsell the addons that mean bottom line health. So how do you balance incentivization?  Expectations can become skewed when you’re too enthusiastic about motivating employees.  You need to keep them hungry and competing.  At the same time, you need to ensure they understand that there are satisfying rewards in play. There really is a balance between feeding the lions enough and causing them to fall into a red meat-induced coma.  This incentive compensation guide will help you drive winning sales behaviors by finding that balance.  It will also clear up another problem some companies have with compensating sales teams – muddy incentive waters.

Clear and unambiguous.

A complex incentive compensation plan can work against you.  Overusing incentives will often result in employees losing the thread where incentives are concerned, so keeping it simple is your way forward. Focus your plan on two to three behaviors.  These should be directly related to the work your sales staff is doing – selling.  Every person on your sales team should understand what’s required of them to achieve incentive compensation rewards. We suggest that you limit your plan to sales per month, upsells logged for the month and new client acquisition.  Create unambiguous benchmarks, get your staff on board and then, stick to the plan.


Create a dialogue with your sales staff.  This isn’t about individual performance, when you’re talking about incentive compensation. It’s about crafting a plan which appeals to your employees.  It doesn’t exist for its own sake, as a make-work project.  It exists to drive winning sales behaviors. Nothing is written in stone and nothing that works was ever developed in a vacuum.  Creating a management silo which excludes your sales team from offering input is counterproductive.  Avoid freezing them out – the have valuable insight about how well your incentive plan is working. Surveys and reviews are useful tools which will provide you with valuable insight into how your sales staff is responding to your efforts.  Involve them and work with them to create an incentive compensation plan that’s rooted in speaking to what your sales team responds to.

Continual evolution.

Regular, forensic reviews which track the overall impact of your incentive compensation plan should be built into its fabric.  These help you see where you’re failing and where you’re succeeding.  When married to information gleaned from the dialogue you’re creating with the sales team, this is a crucial way to evolve your plan into something formidable and effective. Change is good.  Spinning success from failure is, too.  By being clear about the terms of your plan, engaging your team about it and continually seeking ways to improve it, your incentive compensation plan can be a hit. Need incentive compensation support?  Contact ITG.

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Boosting Retention Rates
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  • Evan Polin
    Sandler Training

    "I've been working with Bruce and his team on two projects and they've been great to work with. Bruce has helped us set up a referral/incentive program for us to roll out with our clients and strategic partners. Bruce was great to work with. He's set up a 7 tier program that allows for flexibility and he's also helped us to market the program."

  • Kevin O'Keefe
    Vice President World Wide Sales, Maginatics, Inc.

    "Beverly arranged and managed the early Envivio Sales incentive trips for us. Each of our events was an outstanding and motivating experience Our Sales team appreciated the attention to detail and to fun. Qualifying for the "trip" was a motivating factor behind many end of year sales pushes. I will use Beverly again in the future."

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    Laird Technologies

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  • Marco Lopez
    C& J Energy Services, Inc

    "I have used your services two years in a row and you all have made my vacation a great one. You have the most helpful and considerate employees. Always very friendly, respectful and willing to make my travel experience a good one. Thank you and keep up the great job."

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