How to Structure Incentive Plans that Work Towards Improving Collaboration Between Sales Reps and Customers

by | Sep 5, 2019 | B2B Loyalty, Customer Loyalty, Customer Relationship Management, Drive Sales, Incentive Programs, Incentive Strategies, Increase Sales, Sales Incentives

“Who has more influence on sales performance and business growth – your salespeople or your customers?” Incentive Solutions’ VP of Marketing and Creative Services, Nichole Gunn, starts her latest article in SellingPower by posing this question. Sometimes businesses have a tendency to view the relationship between sales reps and customers as being “us vs. them.” In reality, success in B2B sales depends on collaboration between B2B customers and internal sales teams. In “These Helpful Tips Will Improve Your Incentive Program,” Nichole explores how to structure incentive plans that work towards inspiring this synergy and creating opportunities for mutual growth.

“After all,” to quote Nichole Gunn, “the goals of sales personnel and customers aren’t dissimilar. Both groups want to feel engaged and connected to your brand, and to know their contributions are valued.” It’s just a matter of finding ways to highlight shared goals and to create win-win situations throughout the sales process.

Aligning Goals: It Starts with KPIs

KPIs, or key performance indicators, are observable or measurable behaviors that an incentive program can be used to motivate. When looking at how to structure incentive plans that work for customers and sales reps alike, it’s important to carefully pick which KPIs you incentivize and to analyze how that behavior affects both groups.

In the current B2B environment, buyers want a true partnership, with trust, personalization, omnichannel communication, and open feedback. It’s important to make sure your KPIs don’t jeopardize that relationship. Sales-based commission, or incentive-based KPIs that are totally geared towards motivating sales, can result in unintended consequences. Make sure you are selecting KPIs that inspire your sales reps instead of pressuring them:


Sales reps need Commission.
Commission can drive sales, but can also drive the following:

  • Focusing on prospects instead of clients
  • Chasing only the hottest leads
  • Cutting corners
  • Getting a little too pushy
  • Jumping ship for better offers


Sales reps want the recognition, rewards, and social value that comes with incentives. Incentives can inspire:

  • Upholding company values
  • Providing client follow-up
  • Improving response times
  • Investing in product knowledge
  • Feeling a sense of belonging

Choose Sales KPIs That Benefit Customers

If you focus on providing a consistently great customer experience, the sales numbers will take care of themselves. In today’s B2B sales, relationships often take priority over cost, features, or deliverables.

Rewarding your sales team for following up with existing clients, quickly returning calls and emails, taking quizzes to improve product knowledge, and upholding company core values, will result in better customer experience across the board. Providing responsiveness, expertise, and availability will go a long way towards establishing brand preference amongst your customers. This, in turn, will make the sales process far smoother for your reps, as well.

Provide Customer Incentives That Enable Sales

Additionally, you can offer incentives to your customers that set your sales reps up for success. KPIs you might consider rewarding your customers for include:

  • Customer Anniversaries
  • Order Size
  • Order Frequency
  • Utilizing Ecommerce Platforms
  • Buying Specific Products
  • Taking Quizzes to Learn More About Your Brand and Products
  • Supplying More Complete Marketing Data on Registrations Forms and Invoice Uploads
  • Providing Qualified Referrals

Backed by a selection of great rewards, inspiring these sorts of behaviors will have your customers excited to get in touch with your sales team and receptive to their offerings. Not only that, but by integrating this information into your CRM, your sales team will be equipped with better contact data and insights into engagement and buyer habits, which will empower them to surpass their performance goals.

Customer Retention: Structuring Incentive Plans That Work Even Better Over Time

With engagement, clear goals, reduced turnover, and relationships that are based on mutual growth, your customers (and sales reps) will be more likely to stick with you for the long haul. For B2B sales organizations, customer retention is the gift that keeps on giving, as customer accounts become more profitable over time. Consistently rewarding interactions between sales reps and customers will create positive momentum that will accelerate your growth.

After all, we’re all on the team – it’s just a matter of providing KPI-based incentives that keep everyone focused on the goal.


Mark Herbert

President & CEO
Incentive Solutions
<strong>About </strong>Mark Herbert

About Mark Herbert

Mark Herbert is President and CEO of Incentive Solutions. He has more than 30 years of experience overseeing business operations within the incentives industry, helping companies increase channel sales, build customer loyalty, motivate employees, and grow their business.

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