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How to Structure Successful Sales Incentive Programs
A strong sales incentive program can boost engagement, performance, and revenue. Learn how to build a program that inspires your team to succeed.
In many sales organizations, reps struggle to consistently conduct effective, meaningful sales calls that engage customers and move deals forward. There are myriad tips and tricks out there that promise success — but choosing and implementing the right ones is often a guessing game that leads to frustration and confusion.
Time is everything as it relates to sales calls: A single misstep made in a nanosecond can send a prospect running to a competitor. But sales teams grow and evolve at a break-neck pace, and that speed makes it difficult for reps to continuously keep up with ever-changing information. Managers must carefully balance their time between handling an ongoing book of business, onboarding new reps, and training existing salespeople. Account executives must stay on top of new offerings, products, competitors, and messaging while also managing deals and meeting quotas. If not, they risk appearing unprepared and inexperienced in the eyes of customers.
Well-executed sales calls can become one of your team’s biggest assets, but how do you optimize the process to ensure success without chipping away at valuable time? The truth is, an exceptional sales call process requires data-backed insights, real-time AI guidance, and live enablement that boosts reps’ confidence and equips them with the information they need to succeed. Enter conversation intelligence, which helps managers effectively guide reps to win deals before, during, and after the meeting.
Here, we’ll dive into conversation intelligence software and how it provides all the necessary capabilities to transform your sales call process.
Conversation intelligence is technology that identifies data-driven, actionable insights for reps to consistently improve the quality of sales calls. It helps sales teams instantly gain an understanding of what’s going on in a deal, surface the right information at the right time, and ensure no action items fall through the cracks post-call.
These tools go beyond call analytics solutions of the past to help teams capture AI-driven meeting action items, leverage collective intelligence through comprehensive search and notifications, and coach at scale by sharing snippets and best plays across teams.
Modern conversation intelligence software also helps managers and reps take back time, with tools for real-time enablement and coaching. The right solution can help managers onboard reps 4 times faster, increase rep productivity by 30%, and more easily identify and scale success — all of which ultimately drive predictable, efficient growth.
Because B2B sales organizations typically contend with long sales cycles and many meetings, they need powerful tools that ensure well-orchestrated calls and follow-up. By leveraging conversation intelligence software, companies can reap a variety of key benefits:
Onboarding new reps often requires a significant investment of time from managers, who must ensure new team members receive quality training. In order to become fully ramped up, reps need to feel confident in their jobs. A traditional approach to sales onboarding is typically time-consuming, as it requires reps to memorize and master endless details; from solutions to messaging to competition to pricing and more. During that time, managers’ productivity is diminished and the employee experience suffers.
Conversation intelligence software provides a more supportive onboarding experience, with tools that eliminate that extra time needed to train reps while still ensuring they have all the right information where and when they need it. The best solutions leverage AI-driven content card features, which guide reps with accurate, relevant talking points in the moment — instead of relying on static sales playbook battlecards and sticky notes.
Today, 1 in 10 employees say they’ve left a job because of inadequate onboarding, and 37% say their managers didn’t play a critical role in the experience. Giving new reps an effective, thorough onboarding experience can become a competitive differentiator for finding (and retaining) top talent. This is particularly vital in times of increased growth and hiring, as an efficient, productive onboarding program can be more easily scaled across the entire team.
Sales managers simply don’t have the time to join every sales call. So how can they keep reps on track and ensure they’re delivering on their customer promises? While they could invest in traditional call recording software and review each meeting after the fact, these solutions don't yield immediate results in-the-moment.
Powerful conversation intelligence software includes real-time call analytics, which serves reps with live talk-time visibility; allowing them to course-correct themselves when they’re talking too much or neglecting to listen. Real-time guidance enables reps to instantly check their behavior mid-call and turn things around, rather than waiting for a manager to review call data after the fact and provide relevant coaching.
Some tools also track key moments with live transcription, notes, and bookmarks to keep reps focused on the customer instead of on note taking. Then, they automatically track action items and post-call summaries for faster, more accurate followup. The result is a more immediate, valuable impact that boosts productivity and efficiency for managers and reps alike.
As sales organizations invest in digital transformation initiatives, they often implement various, disparate systems. When salestech tools don’t integrate with other existing systems, data sits in numerous places, which prevents sales managers from accurately detecting the overall progress or sentiment of team and deal performance. Because managers lack the detailed insights required for specified, data-driven coaching, reps typically disregard coaching as overly generalized and irrelevant; then continue their counterproductive behavior.
Rather than offering inconsistent one-on-one coaching across managers, a conversation intelligence tool can help teams scale their best coaches by providing their coaching to all reps in all calls. A robust platform provides managers instant access to meetings they’re missing so they can give individual feedback to each rep post-call. In a single click, they can easily share feedback on meetings, which allows for directly referenceable, coachable moments based on real events.
Conversation intelligence also eliminates the surprises in critical calls and meetings by bringing call summaries, action items, bookmarks, and notes directly to reps’ inboxes after the meeting. And with quick access to action items, call snippets, and searchability across all calls in meetings, managers can mitigate risk early — effectively keeping each deal on track. Modern, powerful technologies put AI to work by delivering trends, compelling moments, and daily notifications to managers’ and reps’ inboxes. Backed by a one-to-many intelligent assistant, sales managers can spend more time coaching and providing impactful, actionable guidance to their teams.
Traditional sales tools can help managers identify the actions that make their top-performing reps so successful and their bottom-performers unsuccessful. But here’s the thing: They don’t offer the visibility and insights required for managing and coaching reps who are in the middle of the road. And since those mid-level performers usually make up the majority of the team, failure to effectively coach them and fine-tune their skills (based on in-depth data) is a giant missed opportunity. Sure, managers could manually dig through and analyze hundreds of sales calls for each rep, but that incredibly time-consuming, tedious process would likely require some superhuman skills. At most organizations, it just doesn't get done.
By implementing a conversation intelligence solution, though, managers can easily identify the performance category in which each rep falls. These tools offer clear insights into top-performers’ talk tracks, topics covered at each stage, time spent, number of questions asked, ratio of speaking versus listening, and more, so managers can precisely tailor their coaching for average performers. Managers can quickly correct mismanagement earlier on in each deal, without investing a large chunk of their time. This frees them up to also focus on top-performers, who may need some extra support, attention, and timely information to win even more deals.
There’s a universal truth in sales that remains unchanged, regardless of reps’ savviness and expertise: Reps commonly face difficult customer questions and objections. The only thing that sets one team apart from another is their reps’ ability to handle those questions and objectives. A strong coaching process helps, but it only gets reps so far if they don’t have the proper tools for real-time support.
Conversation intelligence software uses AI to analyze each conversation and categorize every prospect or customer response, then serves up content cards that prompt reps with the correct talking points. Examples include:
Once the sentiment categorizes the response into the relevant category, the AI digs deeper to actually analyze the objection. It turns those pesky rejections into insights for improvement. Whether the outreach was executed at a poor time, wasn’t sent to the right person, or the prospect doesn’t have the budget to make a purchase, managers can use those insights to tweak their reps’ approach. Over time, managers can refine reps’ skills, uncover new opportunities, and determine how best to support their team. The result is a better prepared, more confident, highly productive sales team.
Backed by powerful conversation intelligence software, sales teams can elevate their skills, work more efficiently and productively, and — ultimately — win more deals. But leveraging the right solution can have positive ripple effects on the organization as a whole, too.
It’s important to note that while conversation intelligence is incredibly valuable, it’s just one piece of a successful sales strategy. For sales teams to operate at their most productive and effective levels, they also need solutions that leverage the insights from every customer interaction; not just their phone calls. They must implement tools that give them full visibility into the status and health of their deals.
Outreach helps revenue organizations automate sales engagement and act on revenue intelligence to improve their efficiency, predictability, and growth. Leaders and reps no longer need to rely on intuition alone. With AI-driven insights, proven workflows, and detailed buyer signals, Outreach gives B2B teams all the tools they need to perform at their full potential.
Traditional, post-call analytics tools simply don’t offer the real-time insights your sales team needs to boost productivity, performance, and your bottom line. To truly gain a competitive edge, they need a powerful sales engagement solution, with tools for conversation intelligence, pipeline visibility, workflow optimization, and more.
Outreach is a connective platform across every customer engagement that helps surface key insights and recommends specific actions that lead to successful outcomes — based on your business’s historical performance and data from every seller across the Outreach user base. It takes conversation intelligence to a whole new level, with tools that help managers onboard reps faster, increase their team’s productivity, and turn their valuable data into deals.