Feature Article - January/February 2017

Motivating Peak Sales Performance

Creating Effective Sales Incentive Programs

By Deborah L. Vence


"When it comes to assessing the status of a sales effectiveness effort and then consistently building salesforce loyalty over time," Frey said, "we've adopted a science-based program design framework that includes three levels."

The first level is called the "Exchange" and represents the starting point, which is generally a simple "Do this, get that" earning structure for earning rewards in exchange for desired behaviors. It enables salespeople to answer the question: "What's in it for me?" and is an essential foundation for building loyalty. But, it's really only the beginning.

The second level is focused on the "Experience"—creating a more immersive participation journey by using science-based design principles like social proof, narrative engagement, status, scarcity, novelty and others. "Oftentimes, we'll co-create the design for an immersive experience with program owners as part of a Persuasive Design Lab," he said.

The final level, "Brand Identity," is the ultimate in loyalty, where sales associates see themselves as ambassadors for the brand and have internalized the sponsoring company's value proposition, customer benefits and the personal benefits of championing your brand over competitors. Achieving this level of loyalty is accomplished by enabling salespeople to grow their capabilities across multiple dimensions of performance, as individuals and as a community of practice.