Executives are always looking for ways to motivate their sales teams, especially star performers. Yet, many incentive systems do exactly the opposite. Here are three ways to inspire your top salespeople to do even better:

Get rid of commission ceilings. Caps on commissions incentivise salespeople to sell to the quota and then stop. Without them, you’re likely to see increased revenue and happier salespeople.

Offer over-achievement commissions. For those who surpass their quotas, increase the commission rate. This will keep your stars working hard during the fourth quarter, which is often when customers are most ready to buy.

Allow multiple winners. This will boost sales effort and improve performance better than contests with winner-take-all prize structures.

Adapted from “Motivating Salespeople: What Really Works” by Thomas Steenburgh and Michael Ahearne (Harvard Business Review)

(This article was published on August 2, 2012)
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