Sales incentives help recruit and retain top talent

Sales team successIn December 2013 the Office for Budgetary Responsibility revised the UK’s economic growth to 2.4% as a result of positive economic indicators which has led to increased economic confidence for many businesses who are now revising their own growth targets.

Since the start of the recession in 2007 many top sales people have remained with their current organisation, but now with the economy showing signs of recovery and economic confidence returning many sales people are thinking about leaving.


The BMS Quarterly Sales Index, found that over a quarter of sales leaders expect recruitment to increase (and over half to stay at this level) in the first quarter of 2014.

However, there’s also additional pressure from boardrooms who as a result of the improving economic conditions are revising their sales growth targets upwards, which in turn is making Sales Directors more demanding of their own sales teams, according to the Index.

The Index, which analyses sales vacancy data from across the UK and is supplemented by an in depth quarterly survey of over 200 UK sales and recruitment leaders, also discovered that many businesses are now looking to use sales training and increases in salaries to help them retain, attract and motivate the best sales people.

But it’s not just training and salaries that can help retain, attract and motivate the best sales teams. Sales incentives are also an important driver of employee retention, recruitment and performance. In fact I’d go as far as saying that whatever line of business you are in to get the performance you need, and to attract and retain ‘good’ people, you need incentives.


What are the benefits of sales incentives?

For many top performing organisations sales incentive programmes combine both strategic and tactical objectives. For example they can:

  • Attract and retain the best sales employees
  • Increase performance and productivity
  • Reduce competitive pressures
  • Improve profit margins
  • Address a shift in the balance sheet
  • Increase market penetration
  • Improve market share
  • Expand distribution networks
  • Provide feedback to shape future growth


Getting the best out of your sales incentive scheme

To get the best out of your sales team and help them meet demanding performance targets you need to create a sales incentive scheme in a fair way, that means a scheme that has clear targets, is measured fairly, has participation rules that everyone understands and has a range of rewards that will motivate your team.

Your aim should be to create an effective, measurable sales incentive scheme that specifically achieves its stated business goals.

Sales Incentives Retain StaffIn order to do this your Sales Directors need to understand what drives each individual in their sales team. Not everyone is motivated by financial rewards, so sales leaders need to find out what motivates their team and what they consider a valuable reward.

Depending on your business objectives it can also be important to include a mix of individual targets and incentives and team targets and incentives.

Flexible sales incentive programmes enable sales leaders to mix and match the right reward with the right employee or group of employees. Some groups of employees might like to travel and receive travel incentives; others might want to receive gifts that confer status and prestige.


Whilst it’s always important to remember your goal when setting up a sales incentive scheme, the success of any such initiative depends on setting the right targets and getting the right rewards that will motivate your entire sales team, not just the top performers.



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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