The Cure for Gloom and Doom

An incentive is the quickest tool in a sales manager’s kit. It can be used to institute change or simply set a fire under staff who have slid into their ‘comfort zone’.

Just follow these four easy steps to focus your sales team’s energy and attention on your critical issues.

1. What needs to be done?
What single objective do you want your entire team to achieve this month to produce the best possible gain for the business? The idea is to focus all their energy on as small an area as possible to guarantee the result. Be specific! What do you want them to do?

2. How will you measure the results?
Way back in 1926, Western Electric proved in its productivity experiments that you get what you measure (The Hawthorn Effect). Whether you make the job easier or harder, results always improve for a while just because the people know they are being measured.

The system must be clear, simple and honest. It can’t take a lot of effort to control or it will just detract from the result you want and end up as an additional overhead. No cheating!

3. What’s it worth?
When they do what you have asked, how much extra profit will the business make? Or, if they don’t do anything different for another month, how much will that cost the company?

One way or another, you must put a value on the outcome. Then you can be sure the rewards you select cost less than the benefit produced. It can be a percentage or a set figure. Set yourself a ‘no result, no cost’ guarantee. This makes sure that both the sales people and the business benefit from your proposed incentive. No result, no reward and no cost!

4. How will you make it fun?
Time to be creative! Now that you know what you want, how you will measure it, and the size of your budget, you can put your incentive program together. It must be fun, highly visible, and offer rewards your people want. The ideal approach would be to have the individual rewards chosen by each participant. Just make sure the reward is something they want.

It has to be visible to hold their attention. Knowing the progressive scores will work to lift everyone’s game. And a bit of fun is what keeps it from just being more work. Constructive competition will support a positive attitude and help them to push a bit harder without taking the setbacks too seriously. The fun will also help to keep a good perspective when working in new or difficult areas.

The use of teams can make everyone’s efforts just as important as the high flyers. When you are part of a team you can’t give up. You would be letting your side down. And it is not a question of being as good as someone else when we need the best efforts of everyone. Isn’t this the attitude you want to encourage in your company?


A sales team is most productive when it knows exactly what needs to be done and everyone is working together to accomplish their goal. And don’t be fooled into thinking that only big money will motivate people. Visibility, praise, recognition and management involvement are much more important.

The best reward is to be part of a winning team!

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