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How To Demotivate Sales with Incentive Programs

By May 7, 2020 No Comments

Executives and management use sales contests, sales incentives, and spiffs as ways to motivate their sales teams. Without careful configuration, a sales incentive program can frequently have the opposite effect. Commission plans need more than just a spreadsheet to effectively drive sales reps to reach their goals.

While management may have a good grasp on the concept for their incentive program, it’s best to tap into the commission administrator. They have the real world, ground-level experience to develop and execute a campaign and prevent it from ultimately backfiring. 

Manager tries to motivate sales team by yelling into a megaphone about incentive programs.

The Commission administrator has the real world, ground-level experience to develop incentive programs that won’t backfire.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to take into account the ways that a commission plan can fail to avoid the most common pitfalls.

Here are the top 6 ways to demotivate a sales team

  1. Step and Repeat the Same Sales Contest Every Quarter. Having a one-size-fits-all approach to contests and goals will not work with a large, diverse sales team. Factors such as the distribution of accounts, how well certain territories perform, and fiscal cycles will impact how certain sales reps perform. Acknowledging these factors with some sort of handicap that levels the playing field will give sales reps more motivation to succeed.
  2. Overcomplicate Commission Rules So No One Can Understand Them. If a sales rep has no idea how their performance calculates into commission pay, they’ll have less inclination to reach their goals. Keep the path to incentive clear so that sales reps can clearly understand what’s expected of them to earn commissions and incentives.
  3. Keep Details of Sales Contests and Commission Goals from Sales Reps. We’ve mentioned this before but if the sales team has no idea they’re competing in a sales contest, it’s not going to motivate them to do anything. The purpose of the contest should be to encourage a little competition toward a shared goal. Tell the team about the contest, email them about it, hang up posters, and then tell them again. Also be sure to clearly explain how commissions will be calculated for the program. That’s true of both limited campaigns and ongoing compensation plans. Make sure they know what they’re being motivated to do.
  4. Refrain from Offering Guidance to Sales People. If a sales rep is underperforming, how can they possibly know if management isn’t providing them guidance and showing them how to get better. Training and regular check-ins will help them get a handle on how they’re measuring up. If they have access to the Core Commissions sales portal, they’ll also be able to view their own progress at any point during the month.
  5. Mess Up Commission and Compensation Numbers Regularly. A commission administrator processing calculations on their own is guaranteed to make mistakes from time to time — especially if they’re relying on multiple spreadsheets, which can increase the possibility of error. But those mistakes are costly both in the monetary way and in how much a sales team trusts their employers. With automated commission calculations from Core, a commission administrator can avoid those mistakes and generate reports faster so that sales team members can see how their commissions were calculated for themselves.
  6. Move the Goalposts at the Last Minute. Changes in compensation plans are inevitable. If they need to happen, the team needs ample time to prepare for those changes. Provide details well ahead of time and be transparent about the how and why so that they can trust how their pay will be impacted and account for that. 

These are the ways to really test a sales team’s drive. Any of the above steps will be sure to discourage employees and hold them back from reaching their true potential. Luckily we can help you avoid a lot of these missteps with programs built for businesses of all sizes. Contact us for more information about how we can get you and your sales team moving in the right direction.

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