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What’s their Motivation?


In today’s competitive marketplace, employers are well versed to the various “benefits” attached to certain jobs, but normally these incentives simply focus on attracting people into the jobs in the first place, rather than motivating them to achieve more. Sales performance trainer Andy Preston provides an insight into the motivation aspect of incentives and how this can impact employee performance.

The “How can I best incentivise my staff so I get better performance from them?” question is an interesting one. Because of the wide range of businesses that I work with, the staff concerned could range from serious under-performers, through to average performers, right up to people who the managers are very happy with in terms of achieving targets, but just want more from them.

There are a number of benefits of introducing or using incentives but they have to be considered carefully, as introducing the wrong thing at the wrong time could actually have the opposite effect, demotivate the team and actually reduce performance against targets set. If you’re in the situation where you’re wondering about introducing incentives the following may help….

1. What behaviour are you trying to encourage?
Do you want increased activity? Increased financial figures? Improvement in morale? The team to work better as a “unit”? Depending on what you are looking for, you need to design any kind of incentive system around it.

2. Do you have the team’s “buy-in”?
Will all the team be motivated to achieve what you want, based on the incentives you’ve offered? Do they actually want to win it? For example, in a typical sales team the “standard” is to award high performance over a year in terms of sales achieved. If however, the prize can only be won by one person (usual examples are a car for a period of time, or a holiday etc) then if 6 months into the year if one person is way ahead of the rest, then it may result in the rest of the team “giving up” on the incentive and actually demotivating them and reducing their activity and performance levels. The same is true if (when the incentive is announced) certain team members don’t believe they can win it, or that it is already biased in favour of a particular salesperson.

3. How are you planning to track, monitor and enforce it?
Most incentives are introduced without much thought (beyond the basics) of how to monitor and enforce it. However we know salespeople are creative people and if they can find a way around it or a loophole, believe me thay’ll find it! Every eventually has to be thought about before introduing the incentive and how it will be tracked, monitored and enforced at every step of the way. Most important of all, the incentive must be simple and the process easy to understand so as to avoid confusion.

4. How long is the incentive period for?
As a general rule of thumb, the longer the incentive period is, the less impact it has. For any incentive period longer than a month, be prepared for having to work hard to keep the team focused and motivated towards it. Salespeople generally tend to be attracted to the “latest thing” and keeping their attention on a long, drawn-out incentive period can be challenging.

5. What size of incentive are you offering?
Again, a general rule of thumb is the longer the period, the bigger the offering, and the bigger the increase in performance, the bigger the offering! However, don’t think you have to have a huge incentive to get people motivated, quite the reverse can sometimes be the case!

As we move more and more to a younger and more flexible workforce, the more the “old school” motivater of “money” has less and less impact. Some of my clients have been seeing big increases in performance from incentives like leaving the office early, a small prize for top appointment maker of the week (with the prize having been on the desk from the Monday – always good as a “reminder”), team incentives like foreign days away (great value from using some of the cheap flight deals). Now these might seem like small things compared to the traditional incentive schemes, but as people and their motivation habits change, we have to change with them, or risk being left behind by those who do.

About the author: Andy Preston is a sales expert works with sales teams and organisations to improve their performance. To find out more about incentive programmes or to discuss any aspect of improving sales performance contact Andy on 0845 130 6779 or visit


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