For this article, Sanitary Maintenance asked members of its advisory board for their insight and expertise on motivating sales people. Here’s what they had to say about sales incentive programs:

What incentives are most effective?

We seem to get the most out of the ones where we offer customer rebates tied to internal competitions. The customer rebates make the customer interested because they know they are going to save some money or get a discount to try something that they may have never seen before. We have found that salespeople are competitive in nature and always need a challenge. When you put internal competitions together it gives them that added challenge to compete against each other, and at the end of the competition we use gift cards for restaurants, fuel, etc., that they get for winning. We tend to have multiple competitions going on at the same time.  

— Eric Cadell, V.P. of Operations, Dutch Hollow Janitorial Supplies, Belleville, Ill.

Incentives, we provide in the areas we are focusing on, and are generally cash, gift cards and the like. Of course the incentives are best achieved when management focuses with intensity and the momentum is there.
— Paul “Dutch” Owens, President, Gem Supply, Orlando, Fla.

One way we motivate our associates is through supplier and JanPak sponsored promotions. Typically, the suppliers are engaged with the sales side of our business offering a host of promotions that will help drive their solutions.
— Rick Fiest, Executive Vice President, JanPak Inc., Davidson, N.C.

Usually the cash one's work.  Sometimes recognition amongst peers works but not always.
— Hank Josephs, President, Spruce Industries, Rahway, N.J.

We usually have a two-tiered incentive plan. We use growth incentives for rewarding success on a semi-annual basis. Typically, we also tie a specific incentive to the focus we would like for the sales group. Whether that is product line focus, specific programs, margins, etc.
— Mark Melzer, President, NASSCO, New Berlin, Wis.

If you have attainable targets with clarity in their value to the team and the individual, then people partake in them.
— George Abiaad, President, Royal Corp., Santa Fe Springs, Calif.

I feel motivation and incentives are closely linked since many of our reps have a high level of entrepreneurial spirit and having several levels of achievement and/or incentive programs that can reach both new/rookie reps and veteran reps works well. Some incentives include an uncapped commission program, sales achievement programs and bonus plans.
— Charles Wax, President, Waxie Sanitary Supply, San Diego