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Improving Results with the Right Mix of Rewards

Nov 16, 2015

Written by: Walter Ruckes
(View Author Bio)

Bigger salaries, higher bonuses and cash incentives are NOT always the answer.


At BI WORLDWIDE, we use the principles of behavioral economics to create the best engagement strategies on the planet. We work with expert academics who advise us on the latest research on human behavior, engagement and decision-making. We use non-cash rewards and recognition to engage and motivate employees and sales teams. Check out our case study library to see how our customized and results-driven solutions have helped clients all over the world.

When was the last time you looked at the mix of total rewards for your sales team? With the growing research in the field of behavioral economics, more and more sales directors and VPs are realizing that bigger salaries, higher bonuses and cash incentives are not always the answer. It seems as though no matter how much money you throw at your sales team, you still wind up with some high performers who work hard no matter how you challenge them, new hires who still aren’t sure which end is up, a handful of slackers who may never figure things out and a mass of well-meaning reps who are literally caught in the middle. They want to improve their performance but something is stopping them:

        They don’t know WHAT to focus on

       They don’t know HOW to improve

       They aren’t sure WHERE THEY STAND

       They aren’t convinced the rewards are worth the effort

Once you are confident your compensation plan (salary + commission) is competitive, the best way to drive focus, teach new behaviors, report on progress and reward for improvement is to look beyond cash and understand how behavioral economics can unlock a variety of new activities that lead to results.

Based on experience, best-in-class companies spend anywhere from 2-10% of total compensation on non-cash rewards for their sales teams. If you are driving behavior change for tasks such as entering data into a CRM system, it is near the lower end. But if you want to motivate immediate results and push reps out of their comfort zone, the payout should reflect the higher risk. Short-term stretch goals can be as high as 10% of income for that period of time.

These rules apply not only to reps who are your employees. There’s a growing trend to use a higher percentage of non-cash rewards for dealer and distributor channels to cut through the clutter, drive focus and gather vital data about who exactly is selling your product.


Download the White Paper to read about the top ways sales leaders are succeeding by using non-cash rewards.

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Walter Ruckes

Walter Ruckes

Vice President of Sales and Channel Engagement

As Vice President of BI WORLDWIDE’s Sales & Channel Engagement Group, Walter Ruckes's primary focus is to develop sales and channel engagement strategies and solutions that change the behaviors of sales people, distributors, dealers and channel sales representatives. An expert in sales incentive strategy, he educates sales professionals around the world on how to best engage their sales force through sales engagement strategies, solutions and best practices.