In an article in Harvard Business Review, Mark Roberg, who is the Chief Revenue Officer of HubSpot, mentions that the ideal sales incentive structure plan is different for each company. It depends on the form of business and the stage of growth of the company. For contact centers, Agent Productivity can be increased with a well defined incentive structure.  

What’s the Best Sales Incentive Structure to Improve Agent Productivity and Sales?


It’s a difficult question to answer. To identify some best practices common to all types of business, we have examined three recent sales compensation projects done by a company. These projects have been carried out for organizations with large-scale sales activities, thousands of sales staff or agents, and millions of sales transactions.


The first project was with a Large Canadian Bank​ with over 3,500 mortgage specialists and investment advisors. The second project with Nationwide which had approximately 15,000 in-house and independent insurance agents and the third project with a multinational consumer electronics brand – with over 5,000 global payees.

 Also read here, how to boost call center agent productivity 

Below are seven incentive tactics that may be considered to improve agent productivity and sales-


Make it Personal

Man achieving incentive

Adapt your incentive strategies according to your business. Speak with the agents. Their feedback is essential to developing a commitment-driven program. You should always accept their input about the program and consider those. Find out their career aspirations, what is most important to them, strengths plus areas they need to develop, and the forms of recognition they most value. Understand their motivations.


Conduct an interaction regularly to determine where your staff are in terms of satisfaction in your company. Ask them why they believe people are joining your company, which brought them to the company, what holds them there, and what they want to see stopped, started, and continued.


Recognize your team’s diverse strengths while building your plan and do things that encourage all members to have their moments to shine. Get to know the various needs of your agents, and keep the incentives flexible to cater to all at different stages. Ensure that people have a preference in terms of priorities and incentives.

The incentives you give out should be clear and personal; have them personalized so that agents know that you value them as an individual.


Reward with Prizes of Convenience and Choice

Enable your agents to win stuff that will make their job experience easier and allow them to choose their options. Give them holidays, the right to leave early one day, the ability to have a desired spot for parking or seating, the option of their break/lunch hours, the ability to take calls they choose, and the first choice of shifts.

Consider having a periodic schedule of themes when it comes to incentives. Give tickets to a game at the peak of the football or baseball season. Consider providing a day or season pass to a nearby waterpark in the summer season. 


The different age groups in your workplace should also be accounted for by your program. A well-established mom may love a day at the spa, but a guy in twenties may not be interested in pampering as much. Being inclusive with your reward picks is crucial. Otherwise, when incentives do not interest them, you risk making agents feel left out and demotivated.


Make Quicker Payments Once a Sale is Completed

Sales representatives do not like to wait for their payment; the sooner you pay, the better. For instance, it now takes approximately 8 hours to close the payroll at the Canadian Bank and payments are made on a biweekly basis instead of once a month.


Automate Manual Sales Processes

Incentives getting transferred

Managing sales incentives also requires time-consuming, error-prone procedures such as manual data inputs and modifications. Take the management of quotas carefully. Sales managers also send spreadsheets, which are then checked by hand, with quarter-by-quarter breakdowns.


Instead, it is possible to automatically check the figures given by sales managers against specified and configurable business rules. For example, quotas may be established at the component level and over different periods.

Operations analysts will quickly understand how any proposed reform affects system-wide quotas instead of operating on a single quota spreadsheet at a time.


Improve Visibility and Transparency

It is quite normal to have minimal reporting that prevents drill-downs and full visibility into sales results. This is also due to the high volume of data and its distribution between multiple IT systems in large firms.


Sales reps can get regular, on-demand statements covering commissions, incentives, and fees by introducing centralized reporting. For example, their iPhones and iPads are used by the 6,000 sales managers at that large consumer electronics company to view a rundown of their monthly plus annual compensation and to generate estimated earnings reports.

Administrators can evaluate Real-time team and individual performance information, and compensation analysts can run ad-hoc queries to validate payments and credit splits.


Accelerate New Compensation Plan Rollout

Man running behind incentive

Previously nationwide, introducing compensation package revisions was so difficult that it took up to six months to introduce a new plan. This was largely due to a dynamic, disparate network of 10 distinct compensation schemes. By standardizing NICE SPM, in as little as four weeks of planning time, nationwide can implement new and updated variable compensation systems.


Recognize Small and Large Accomplishments

Employees should be compensated for achieving both big targets as well as small targets. This will ensure that they are respected for their success and that their conduct is consistent with the standards of the company.


Conclusively, the benefits of motivated and happy agents from the standard compensation structure to the choice of programs for particular targets, sales incentives are an ideal way to encourage the workers and boost sales. The agents are more productive and deliver a better customer experience.

One needs to understand from the employer’s perspective that even though monetary benefits play a great role in engaging agents, it is really important to offer soft benefits to agents. When agents feel appreciated at work, they’re more likely to provide top-tier customer services and generate more sales than expected.

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