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All you need to know about B2B sales incentive plans

Having worked in the incentives and motivational industry for over 20 years, I’d like to think I’m qualified to answer all you need to know about B2B sales incentive plans. Let’s start with the basics…

B2B sales incentives are motivational tools, designed to inspire salespeople to reach and exceed their sales targets. They are structured to encourage specific actions, behaviours, and secure sales during a particular pre-determined timeframe, this could be an annual incentive, or simply a 12-week period during peak.

So what are the benefits of a B2B incentive?

Surely salespeople will sell anyway as that’s their job? An incentive can be particularly effective at improving performance, further pushing salespeople, and driving them to specifically exceed targets. Once goals are achieved, salespeople are rewarded with often a ‘money can’t buy’ reward or experience. Putting B2B sales incentives into practice in your business will not only improve overall sales performance but will likely improve both customer and employee retention.

B2B sales incentives are strategic tools, intended to motivate salespeople to achieve specific goals. A B2B sales incentive plan will be developed by the business, for the business. It’s not a one size fits all tool but instead is designed to specifically address the goals and objectives of the business and their salespeople.

Over recent years, there has been a shift in industry, from just ‘selling’, to ‘how’ something is sold. This is reflected in B2B incentive plans whereby organisations are looking to drive sales behaviours which encourage collaboration across teams and increase the focus on the customer. No organisation wants to be seen to be miss-selling, it can cause irreparable damage to a brand.

What is a B2B incentive in practice?

In practice a B2B incentive enables the allocation of a reward to an individual. Rather than an increase in salary or a bonus, a salesperson may receive a reward such as a gift voucher, hospitality event, VIP experience or group travel overseas. The size and value of the reward will be proportionate to the task asked of the salesperson and may be tailored to a specific business division or unit whilst adhering to an overall company incentive plan or framework.

How do B2B incentives work?

B2B incentives work by encouraging salespeople to sell more, which in turn drives overall business growth and success. However it’s important that they are considered and carefully planned to develop an incentive that aligns with the organisation and sales team.

Implementing a sales incentive within your sales team will encourage and motivate employees to perform better on a day-to-day basis. Whilst there will be a cost to the organisation to fund the incentive reward, this should be easily covered by the increase in sales and your improved bottom line.

Salespeople will be motivated to work harder, secure sales faster and push for bigger deals if an incentive is in place. When done right, independent audits have shown B2B incentives can enhance productivity amongst employees and help boost your team and their morale.

To make a B2B sales incentive plan successful, it’s important to listen to what your employees want. Rewards need to be both aspirational and achievable at the same time. Consider how competitiveness can play a part, perhaps pitching teams against one another, or creating leagues culminating in a super league for top performers. The emotional link between a reward and performance, can leave a long-term feel good factor that improved performance beyond the incentive itself.

Be transparent with employees and communicate their performance against target on a regular basis. Even better, give them access to an incentive website with real time sales data reporting. It’s critical that salespeople know precisely what they have to achieve and by when. And of course, what’s in it for them.

Here is my 5-step plan to creating a B2B incentive plan:

  1. Set goals and objectives
  2. Understand your audiences’ wants
  3. Design a communications strategy
  4. Tease in the rewards
  5. Measure and assess

The benefits of B2B sales incentive plans

There are many benefits brought to businesses who introduce B2B sales incentives into their operations, but here are my top 3 having worked across sectors such as electronics, utilities and manufacturing over my years in industry.

Benefit 1 – Sales Team Alignment

This benefit may sound obvious, but it’s surprising how salespeople can take on their own strategy if not reigned in and managed. An effective B2B sales incentive plan can push for more strategic alignment. It can ensure that employees are pulling in the same direction, speaking to customers using the same language, selling products with the same integrity that ensures brand consistency across the organisation.

Benefit 2 – Customer Retention

‘Good selling’ will pay dividends with your customers and likely generate repeat custom. Having a clearer focus on the customer, selling honestly and accurately to meet their needs and requirements will help ensure they come back to the organisation for future purchases.

Benefit 3 – Business Growth

This really is the ultimate benefit to a business following the implementation of a successful B2B incentive. A high performing sales team will enable an organisation to achieve their overall business goals which should ensure business growth over years to come. This success will benefit all employees and secure future investment in effective B2B sales incentive plans.

If securing investment in an incentive plan needs further evidence, the Incentive Research Foundation shows that 90% of top-performing companies use incentives to reward salespeople.

B2B sales incentive planning with FMI

I hope my brief overview has given you a greater understanding of how B2B sales incentive plans can be a powerful motivational tool. But if you’re seeking further support let’s delve into B2B sales incentive planning with FMI.

FMI Agency comprises a team of incentive experts and consultants. People who can work with you to shape and design your future incentive plan. With years of experience, and having worked across multiple industries, we are adept at creating bespoke incentive plans that are tailored to your needs.

We start the process by asking a series of questions; what, where, when, who and how. The answers to these questions can be helpful in designing an incentive plan that fits your organisation perfectly. Afterall, it needs to be designed by the business, for the business.

If you would like to talk to me about next steps, please email and we can start the conversation.


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