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With advances in AI and the growing digitization of the buying cycle, we have more sales data than ever. It has the potential to reveal a wealth of insights about your teams and what’s driving the top performers. That data is spread across a myriad of systems, however. It’s locked up in your email, spreadsheets, and other sales tools.

But uncovering insights from the data is just half the battle. Insights don’t close deals. Actions do. The key is turning insights into action, and the best way to do that is through incentives. Actually, let me be more specific: it's through micro-incentives.

How Incentives Can Turn Insights Into Action

Micro-incentives are monetary rewards for doing the little things right. Most people try this with SPIFFs that dole out iPhones or gift cards for whoever makes the most cold calls in a week, and other such contests. These are fine for a short spike in activity, but any true behavioral change wears off as soon as the contest is over.

Micro-incentives are a much more powerful and effective way of deploying SPIFFs. They reward specific behaviors instead of generic activities. They can be customized for different teams. And instead of a one-time contest, micro-incentives work 24/7, seven days a week, constantly reinforcing the behaviors you want to instill in your sales force.

What About Commissions?

All this talk about micro-incentives and SPIFFs ignores the biggest incentive of all for sales: the commission.

Commission plans have their place and purpose. I’ve spent more than a decade helping people use them to drive sales performance. However, they’re more of a macro motivator to close deals — a North Star if you will, to focus you on your journey. They’re not the turn-by-turn instructions that help you get there. They don’t motivate anything specific within the deal. That’s what micro-incentives are for.

The Company Pioneering This Approach

An exciting company has built a platform around this very idea. The result is an irresistible combination of uncovering the seller-specific insights and motivating the sellers to adopt those recommendations. This is what drives meaningful, long term behavioral changes.

The company is called SetSail. They’ve seen rapid success in the enterprise with companies like Dropbox. Dropbox has been able to use micro-incentives to motivate reps to follow best practices and focus on high-value opportunities. This approach has yielded impressive results for them:

  • 34% more pipeline
  • 67% more emails received from customers
  • 37% more meetings booked

There are plenty of approaches out there for unlocking data from multiple systems but what excites me about SetSail is that they’ve solved the problem of gathering the insights and getting people to follow the recommendations. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water…Now, with SetSail you can finally get them to drink!

I’m humbled and excited to be involved, and I look forward to helping advise SetSail as they continue on their journey of unlocking sellers’ potential by rewarding what truly matters.

About the Author

Giles is an experienced business executive with a proven track record of growth. He has successfully led sales, marketing, product and engineering teams for nearly two decades, most recently as part of CallidusCloud, growing the business from $46m recurring revenue to over $200m. CallidusCloud was acquired by SAP in 2018, and Giles went on to lead the business as GM of SAP Sales Cloud.