Top Three Questions to Ask When Designing a Sales Incentive Program

Sales incentive programs have the power to spark passion within your sales force. Especially in a competitive market, there is increased pressure on the sales team to go the extra mile. Recent studies show, successful incentive programs can motivate sales people to go above and beyond, boosting their performance anywhere from 25% to 44%. There is no one-size-fits-all program – a reason why there are so many different systems and approaches. But, successful incentive program design always begins with good questions. Start by asking these three key questions:

What is it that we are trying to achieve through this incentive program?

The goal of most sales incentive programs is to modify participant behavior to grow sales and keep sales reps engaged. Answering the questions below will help you better define your objectives:

Am I rewarding the right behaviors and performance indicators? Without understanding what needs to be rewarded to achieve the company’s overarching goal, it is very difficult to bring value to your program. This is an important conversation that you need to have with all stakeholders involved with the program. Incentives help modify sales rep behavior so using them in an efficient way is essential in achieving your sales revenue targets.

Have you established attainable goals and rewards to target your top, middle, average and under performers? There’s an adage that states the top 20% of your sales team generates 80% of sales. These top-tier employees tend to claim most of the praise and available rewards, leaving future top-tier producers hidden in the crowd and feeling unvalued. An effective incentive program also targets promotions to the next 20% tier of capable employees, laying the motivational groundwork for their entrance into a top-tier.

What is the overarching goal of my company? Am I targeting the right behaviors to achieve that goal?  If the goal of the program is to increase referral sales and that is not clearly targeted by the program, then the program is set up for failure. Referred customer usually have a longer tenure with a brand so promoting referrals can increase the number of loyal customers. The point of the incentive is to really understand the customer, cater to their needs, and provide the right solution. However, if you decide to reward all sales equally, then reps would sell at all costs because this is the rewarded behavior.

Do my desired performance objectives align with a worthy reward?

If the program is designed correctly it should produce results that optimize workflows and increase engagement. Clear rules for the program need to be set up and communicated with the participants. Below are a few questions that will help you better understand a successful program design.

Are the goals achievable? Is everyone getting a fair shot? Goals are supposed to be challenging but if the targets are set out too far, there is a loss in engagement over time. The goals should be set where everyone gets a fair shot at achieving them. The idea here is to drive more engagement and with more sales targets being achieved, sales growth will follow.

How motivating is my plan? If your program is structured to get sales reps to sell more than they currently do, you are motivating them. Remember, this includes all sales reps, not only the high performing ones. Also rewarding behaviors such as attaining additional trainings or certifications can go a long way in creating a company culture that rewards higher education.

Are my reward choices in line with what employees prefer? For an incentive program to work—for employees to be engaged—there must be a reward that has a high perceived trophy value and is appropriate for the desired goal. If the goal is to boost sales performance, a once in a lifetime travel opportunity reserved for the best-of-the-best remains one of the most powerful motivators. Through travel incentive opportunities, morale is boosted, productivity is heightened, and employees return from vacation re-energized and ready to make sales. Prepaid reward cards are another great reward solution. Prepaid reward cards provide the flexibility, freedom, choice, and all-around motivational power you need to drive success. Plus, with the convenience, variety and customization that prepaid cards offer, it’s easy to see why so many companies are choosing prepaid rewards for their corporate incentive programs.

Am I communicating program rules and updates clearly with my participants? It may seem obvious that communication is an important element in incentive programs, but far too often communication is the most overlooked piece of the puzzle. Even the most exciting, big budget program runs the risk of failure if your message is not articulated clearly, thoroughly and often to those you wish to reach.

What tools and processes are necessary to produce the desired result?

Am I using the best tools to monitor and run this program? One of the most important part of running a sales incentive program is having the right platform with the tools you need. Running sales incentive programs offline and through spreadsheets can be cumbersome, inefficient and costly. You need a nimble, web-based platform where participant and program interactions are recorded, analyzed, and utilized to enhance the program as well as the participant experience.

Is my platform simple enough for the participant to stay engaged? If your platform is too complicated for the rep to interact with, program participation will be lower than expected. This is a huge problem with a large number of incentive platforms, they are too complicated and don’t offer any real value to the participant.  In order to ensure high engagement levels, a simple, easy to use platform is key.

Do I have access to real time reporting? Are all the program interactions being recoded and reported to me? Metrics drive sales incentive success. Be sure you are gaining valuable insights into your program and your participants with intelligent reporting that tracks: participant enrollment, progress, claims, top performing products or locations, awards funded, redemption and more.

We hope these questions help you figure out how to build a successful sales incentive program, as it pertains to you.

To discover more about these programs and how they can boost your revenues click here to contact us. JNR is a proven single source for strategic partnerships and solutions, offering an experienced team of employees, progressive technologies, best industry practices, and a network of worldwide resources, which support our ever-evolving portfolio of unique, effective and memorable business solutions.

Written by: Shay Malhotra, Marketing Manager | Card Services & Technology Solutions


June 28, 2013. Irvine, CA.  JNR Incorporated, a leader in providing travel incentives, prepaid reward card programs, and marketing communications, reports a recent expansion in their Technology and Client Services Team.

“We are pleased to welcome our two newest all-star tech team members, Prax Cruz, Senior Web Designer, and JJ Kim, Front End Developer,” stated Heather Duckworth, H.R. Director at JNR. “Kim contributes an endless lineup of programming skills including: HTML5, Bootstrap, CSS3, WP, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, AJAX, Javascript, JSON, etc; while Prax joins the team as a veteran designer with years of development experience for ad agencies, businesses and in-house art departments under his belt.”

“JNR has placed an emphasis on expanding our technology offerings to stay ahead of client needs and industry trends,” states Duckworth. “In response to a large increase in the use of smart phones and tablets, we have created some cutting edge responsive design and mobile app solutions to facilitate a superior experience regardless of what type of device you are browsing on,” she stated.

JNR has also recently upgraded their travel registration capabilities into a comprehensive suite called “RegPort®.” This user-friendly system provides online participant registration with real-time data and confirmation collection, distribution of emails and SMS communications, management of participant data, in a customizable format.

Over the years, JNR has significantly improved results at some of the biggest and best known companies in the world through customized packages that include travel incentives, prepaid reward card programs, sales performance motivators, customer loyalty services, marketing, communications and advertising programs, and more.

“We invite you to discover how to improve revenues at your company,” Duckworth stated. For more information on creating a program that will motivate, engage and create loyalty among your team members, or for additional information on JNR’s Technology Solutions, contact us for a free consultation by emailing 

Take It from Those Who Know Best: Non-Cash Rewards Drive Sales Performance


Often times, the most effective way to improve your organization is to take a cue from those who are currently excelling in your industry. Organizations that exhibit superior performance have thrived for a reason, and not learning from their experiences would represent a major oversight. The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) recently published a study conducted by the Aberdeen Group that evaluates non-cash incentives and rewards based on their utilization by “Best-In-Class” companies.

Best-In-Class companies were categorized as the top 20% of firms, and had “higher customer retention rates, higher year-over-year increases in the number of sales reps achieving sales quota” among other superior qualities. A majority of these organizations cited non-cash incentives and rewards as a “vital component” of sales performance management.

The key findings:

  • Incentive Travel is Essential: 100% of Best-In-Class organizations utilize Incentive Travel to motivate their sales force
  • Internal Sales Employee Recognition Programs Produce Results: 14.8% higher team quota attainment and 5.9% higher customer renewal rate was achieved by organizations with formal internal sales employee recognition programs
  • Company Sponsored Events Are Vital: Best-In-Class firms were 75% more likely to offer company sponsored events as incentives
  • Outsourcing Program Management Leads to Improved Sales Figures: Companies that outsource the management of non-cash incentive programs show higher lead conversion rates (30.4% vs. 23.9%) and lower average sales cycles (4.2 months vs. 5.3 months)

Best-In-Class firms are effectively utilizing and outsourcing the management of their non-cash incentive programs to further the success of their organizations. It is crucial to take a cue from the superior performers, and not fall in line with the laggards or industry average businesses.

Finding a company to manage your incentive program is a crucial decision that is vital to the success of your program. Visit our website at today and let us prove to you that we are the company that will provide results for you.

Kristopher Hewkin

Source: The Incentive Research Foundation “Press Release: ‘Best-In-Class’ Firms Prefer Non-Cash Rewards to Drive Sales Performance”

The Importance of Measuring Sales Performance

“Reward employees and profits will follow” was the common belief for performance rewards and recognition programs designed during the millennium.  And then, the recession hit.  As budgets tightened and companies were pressured to demonstrate the ROI for sales incentives, managers have been challenged to come up with better sales performance measurement criteria.

“Over 60% of our client and vendor references have indicated that they do not have a sales performance measurement program in place, but intend to implement one within the next six to 12 months.  Of the 40% that say they do measure sales performance, many of them have limited measurement capabilities,” states

“In this ever-changing and highly competitive business environment, it is essential that any measurement program be able to determine internal performance improvement factors from external company and broader market and environmental factors,” the report continues.

SalesHQ has developed a report that will enable managers to create a business case for investments in employee motivation, sales incentives and recognition programs.  Measurement is essential and needs to be timed exactly as the employee engagement begins as marketing materials are rolled out. Trailing indicators, like performance against quota, are the most commonly used criteria, but companies need to become more sophisticated in the type of measurements they are using to include their ROI for sales training.

A sound sales performance measurement program must not only consider history but provide predictive, actionable metrics to management. Developing a forecasting ability that will indicate trends is important. “The measurement program must be comprehensive, accurate, objective and provide useful information to management,” according to SalesHQ.

Customer loyalty programs are perfect candidates for sales measurement and forecasting. Set goals and measure results. Adjust, re-set goals and measure results. As the sales incentive programs become more well-known within the target audience, add in more performance rewards and measure again.

As you develop your sales incentive programs, you will see exactly how essential the measurement aspect of the program is to the program’s overall success. The better the measurement and goal-setting, the more likely you will be to achieve your desired results.

To read the full SalesHQ article click here

For more information on the benefits of a strategic incentive solution visit our website at



Marilyn Froggatt

Vice President of Sales, JNR Incorporated

Companies Grow Revenue Faster with Non-cash Incentives


It’s no surprise that companies that capitalize on their resources and the competitive edge potential of their sales force are seeing significant opportunities to grow revenue and market share over their competitors. Companies that understand the power of non-cash incentives in motivating their employees are far outranking the more cut-throat “every man for himself” mentality in today’s business environment.

So what motivates sales people? According to the December, 2011, study by the Aberdeen Group and the research brief, “Sales Performance Management 2012: Rewards and Recognition as a Vital Compensation Component”, 91% of sales professionals polled said they are motivated by direct monetary compensation. In addition, 61% said they are also motivated by internal recognition for positive performance, or non-cash incentives.

Furthermore, in the research from Aberdeen Group, “Sales Performance Management 2012: How Best in Class Optimize the Front Line to Grow the Bottom Line” (December, 2011), Best-in-Class Companies (top 20% of business performance) were more than twice as likely (21% vs. 10%) to use non-cash incentives. They also discovered the following:

  • 83% of best-in-class sales reps achieved annual quota, compared to just 51% among industry average firms.
  • Best-in-class sales reps achieved a nearly 10% improvement in sales deal size vs. 1.9% for industry average firms.
  • Best-in-class companies were also twice as likely (21% vs. 10%) to use non-cash incentives and the year-over-year increase in annual revenue for firms that used non-financial rewards and recognition was 3x that of firms that did not use non-cash incentives. (9.6% vs. 3%)

Three non-cash motivators, e.g. praise from immediate managers, leadership attention (one-on-one conversation) and a chance to lead projects, are all low-cost and very effective ways to engage employees. Merchandise, travel, and gift cards are also very motivational for their trophy or commemorative value, and are also much more cost-effective than cash.

Business leaders are catching on. According to Pricewaterhouse-Coopers’ 14th Annual Global CEO Survey of 1,201 corporate leaders and government officials, 47% indicated a plan to “use more non-financial rewards to motivate staff”.

For more information on this important aspect of corporate incentive planning, feel free to contact Marilyn Froggatt at or 760-966-0173.

Marilyn Froggatt
Vice President, Sales, JNR Incorporated