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Sales Incentives that Motivate Modern Sales Pros

Sales Incentives that Motivate Modern Sales Pros

A recent Harvard Business Review article questions whether the proliferation of digital channels and changes in buying behavior have made the traditional sales incentive model obsolete. This isn’t an argument against financial motivators. However, it is a rallying cry to reconsider the exact behaviors your sales reps are being incented to do, and sometimes more importantly, the winning behaviors they’re not currently incented to do.  

In a world where sales professionals no longer “own” relationships with prospects, companies need to motivate their reps to focus on the activities that can impact buying decisions. How can sales leaders adapt to incent their teams and drive results?

Reward New Metrics

Assuming you and your sales team have embraced social selling, it’s only fitting that you adjust your performance measures accordingly. Of course, it’s about closed deals at the end of the day, but it’s time to expand your revenue-based incentive plan and reward your reps for all the actions they’re taking to help usher buyers to the finish line. KPIs will vary from one company to the next. The important thing is to reward the leading indicators of closed sales at your company. For example, you may find that the number of connections at the target account correlates with wins, and you’ll want to reward behaviors that align with reps mapping and connecting with the buying committee.

Focus on Team-based Incentives

Most companies incent each sales rep individually. Yet it takes a team effort to close a deal – especially where consultative selling reigns supreme. Simply put, selling is easier when you are paired with a team of experts, all with practical knowledge of industry trends, buyer challenges and goals, and solution possibilities to fully address a prospect’s concerns.

As buyers look to reduce uncertainty and validate their decision, they often seek input from multiple people in your company. In addition to technical specialists like pre-sales engineers, they might even want to engage with more than one sales rep in your group. This approach allows them to benefit from the perspectives of salespeople with different – and complementary – specialties, interests, and backgrounds.

At the same time, as your sales reps seek to make inroads with a target account, they are likely calling upon their fellow sales reps to make warm introductions to strategic stakeholders. So, it only makes sense to incent your team to work collaboratively to drive sales. In his book DriveDaniel Pink profiled a large technology company that replaced individual incentive plans with team-based ones. The result was much higher levels of collaboration and revenues.

Highlight Social Status

It’s natural to wonder how you’re going to get your sales reps to work more collaboratively. After all, most sales environments are designed to motivate individual performance and competition. But that approach doesn’t mesh well with the modern social selling culture that is increasingly taking hold across organizations. That’s where the concept of social status comes into play.

Think of how your top performers appreciate recognition. At the same time, that leader board can set a fire under your average performers and laggards because it’s embarrassing when their less-than-optimal performance is made public. Drawing on this tactic, you can complement monetary bonuses with social recognition that rewards a team approach to selling. The idea is to celebrate successes while reinforcing the value of working collaboratively to drive sales using social selling.

By adapting your incentive model in these ways, you can encourage the sales activities and behaviors that matter most in today’s modern world. That means your sales team will be rewarded for embracing social selling and your company will be rewarded with more sales.



Originally published at LinkedIn Sales Solutions, reposted here with permission from our 2017 Gold sponsor, LinkedIn.

Steve Kearns. (2018). Sales Incentives that Motivate Modern Sales Pros. Available: Last accessed 08/02/2018.