Sales Incentives Shouldn’t Be Used as Motivation to Close More Deals

It’s not uncommon for people to ask me what’s the best way to motivate sales people to sell more. My answer is almost always the same. If you are using money to incent sales people to sell MORE, you have a big problem.

I participated in this sales webinar yesterday; Best Practices in Modern Day Selling. You can listen to the session here.

One of the participants asked this question:

What incentives have you offered your sales teams to help motivate them to close more deals?

My answer was NONE!  If you are looking to incent your team to close more deals, you’re missing the real problem. Something else is going on in the organization and throwing money at it, isn’t going to help.

A solid, well crafted commission plan should be all the motivation the sales team needs to close deals. If the team isn’t closing enough deals, something else is wrong.


It could be a lot of things. A few obvious things:

  1. A shitty sales team
  2. The wrong sales people in the wrong roles
  3. A weak product
  4. Poor sales leadership
  5. Poor sales support
  6. A bad commission plan
  7. All of the above
  8. None of the above, but a number of other things

If the team isn’t closing more deals or “enough” deals the problem can be found  in one or all of the following 4 areas; your strategy, your structure, your people or your processes.

I promise, if you’re not making your number, if you need more deals closed, it’s not because you need to incent more. (exception is a shitty commission or comp plan) It’s because you have problem somewhere else. Finding and solving the REAL problem is your challenge.

Incentives should be used only to augment your existing, productive well run sales organization. They can be used to move a specific product for a  short period of time. They can be used to create a quick spike or to create a “fun, competitive” environment for a month or a quarter.  They can be used to drive “new” behaviors like improving forecasting accuracy. However, incentives should not be used to motivate your team to close more deals.

A good sales team comes to the table motivated. Superstar sales teams are driven to succeed. They don’t need additional incentives, beyond their comp plan to close deals.

If your using incentives to close “MORE” deals, it’s just a band aid on a broken leg.  It’s not helping and your wasting band-aids.

Find the REAL problem then fix it.

Take Aways: 

Don’t use incentives to close more deals.

If enough deals aren’t be closed, determine where the REAL problem is.

The problem is going to be with your sales strategy, structure, people or processes.

Use incentives for a short period of time to push a new product, have fun, create a competitive environment or change a required behavior

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