Motivating your middle-tier sales staff

Top performer sales incentivesDo you spend lots of time discussing what glamorous reward to offer your top performers with your next sales incentive? You could be wasting a lot of time and effort.

A common mistake

A trap that many incentive scheme managers fall into is spending the majority of their time concentrating how to squeeze more from top performers… those who are most likely to already be giving 100%. But what about everyone else? Greater gains can be made with a sales incentive that inspires ALL, and not just those who believe that a high value end of year prize is within their grasp.


Design a sales incentive that will motivate underperformers

Start by linking your incentive objectives to your business goals.

Carry Larry cartoonIf you set good objectives you are half way there, this will allow you to define exactly what you want to measure and to relate this to bottom line business improvement.

The next challenge is to set a clear strategy for performance improvement.  Be clear about where you can get your biggest wins.  It is unlikely to be your top performers because they are already doing it and don’t have much more to give.  This group are the ones that should targeted with recognition and praise, focus your reward budget on the next group down.


If you can get your middle 50% to deliver just a bit more the impact will be significant.

Performers graph - before

Segmentation techniques such a leaguing, best improvers, and target related measures can be used to achieve this.

Performers graph - after

Provide a hierarchical structure of opportunity so that early goals are realisable within a realistic time frame.  This will vary with the culture of your organisation and will stretch from weekly to annually. A typical structure would be:

  • Monthly measurement and reporting
  • Quarterly reward and regional top performers recognition
  • Annual top performers recognition event

Campaign activity graph


Above all, keep it simple for the participant. Ensure you deliver a healthy mix of recognition and reward, beware of many other common mistakes made and you’ll make a significant impact on profits for your organisation.


Sales incentives


John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.

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