Incentives work. There’s abundant evidence that says that incentives boost employee productivity and motivation. 

However, if your incentives are not motivating your team to perform better, it might be time to try something new.

Behavior science has a wealth of information today on how people think, decide and act. The science of motivation, habit formation, and goal-setting can help you create more impactful sales incentives.

This article looks at how you can enhance your sales incentives and drive better sales performance.

The Power of Motivation in Sales

Keeping teams motivated is a crucial element in getting the best out of your team. There are two main types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from within, driven by personal satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, stems from external rewards and recognition. Both types are important in sales, and finding the right balance is key to sustained success. (Read more on how to unlock intrinsic motivation here.)

Understanding Behavioral Science in Sales Incentives

Behavioral science provides valuable insights into human behavior and decision-making. By incorporating these insights into sales incentives, businesses can create a more effective and engaging environment for sales reps. Here are some key principles from behavioral science to apply to your incentive design:

Goal-setting theory

Setting clear, specific, and challenging goals is essential for motivating sales reps. When goals are properly defined, they provide a sense of direction and purpose. Sales reps become more focused and driven to achieve their targets.

Habit formation

Habits play a significant role in sales success. By designing incentives that encourage positive sales habits, such as regular follow-ups or consistent prospecting, businesses can help sales reps establish routines that lead to improved performance. Tie incentives to the completion of specific sales activities to reinforce desired behaviors.

Social influence

People are influenced by the behaviors and achievements of others. Creating a culture that celebrates and recognizes sales successes fosters healthy competition and motivation. Incentives can incorporate elements of social recognition, such as leaderboards, team-based rewards, or public acknowledgment of achievements. 

Cognitive biases

Human decision-making is often influenced by cognitive biases. Understanding these biases can help design incentives that align with how people think and make choices. For example, framing incentives as gains rather than losses can enhance motivation. Additionally, offering smaller, more frequent rewards can tap into the “immediacy bias,” which encourages sales reps to stay engaged and motivated.

Designing Effective Sales Incentives

To make your sales incentives more effective, consider the following elements:

  1. Clear and specific goals: Ensure that your sales targets are well-defined and measurable. Ambiguous goals can lead to confusion and demotivation. When sales reps have a clear understanding of what they are striving for, they can focus their efforts accordingly.
  2. Timely feedback: Regular and timely feedback is crucial for sales reps to gauge their progress. It provides an opportunity for course correction and helps sales reps stay on track. Real-time behavior data and analytics can enable sales reps to monitor their performance and make necessary adjustments during the sales cycle.
  3. Tailored rewards: Recognize that different sales reps have varying preferences and motivations. Tailor your incentives to match their individual aspirations. Offer a range of rewards that appeal to different interests, such as monetary bonuses, trips, or personalized experiences.
  4. Excitement and Competition: Gamifying sales incentives can inject a sense of fun and excitement into the sales process. Leaderboards, badges, and friendly competitions can ignite healthy rivalries and encourage sales reps to go above and beyond their targets.

Communicating Your Sales Incentive Plans

Even the best designed incentives that take all of the above into account will fall flat if they are not communicated to the sales team well. Some studies estimate that almost 40% of sales reps don’t even understand their incentive plans.

Using behavior science principles you can ensure that your team understands their incentive plans and engages with it confidently.

Reduce Cognitive Load

Our conscious brain can hold no more than 4 different pieces of information at the same time. Most information about the incentive plans is shared once. Teams find it hard to remember the qualifications and other necessary conditions. So much information will not be adequately processed and influence decision-making. 

Information about the incentive plan needs to be readily accessible and delivered in bite-sized chunks throughout the sales cycle.

Help reps track their Incentives

Typically incentives are hard to calculate and sales reps are constantly wondering where they are at and how much is left to go. People are motivated when they are able to visualize their progress and how much more they need to do to reach the finish line.

Personalized insights on current status of incentives and how much is left to do help reps stay focussed on the target ahead and earn more incentives.

Implementing Sales Incentive Software with Behavior Science

Harnessing the power of behavioral insights becomes easier with the right technology. Sales incentive software can automate and streamline incentive management, allowing businesses to implement behavioral science principles effectively. 

With features like goal-tracking, progress monitoring, visualization, carefully framed personalized nudges and insights, tools like worxogo’s Incentive Nudge Coach provide a comprehensive solution for optimizing sales incentives and driving sales performance.

Effective sales incentives are key drivers of sales performance. By understanding the science of motivation, habit formation, and goal-setting through the lens of behavioral science, businesses can design more impactful incentives that engage and motivate sales reps. 

If you’d like to leverage worxogo’s Incentive Nudge Coach to optimize your incentive programs for long-term success and unlock the full potential of your sales team, contact us for a demo.