Sales agents face an uphill battle when it comes to moving products and services in a down market. As the economy continues to slowly inch toward pre-recession levels, consumers have become increasingly frugal. Managers have had to develop new strategies for motivating and retaining their best employees, and distributing sales incentives has become an increasingly popular tactic.

Selling Power recently reported that vendors are paying out rewards faster than before, which is a boon for motivation. Companies are using incentive compensation software to track business and ensure that representatives receive their bonuses. Additionally, businesses are looking to simplify sales performance management by making every sales job the same.

"There are no unique salespeople," Dennis Spahr, VP of sales effectiveness at a consulting firm, told the news source. "All are assigned a sales role and a compensation plan for it."

Managers can easily track the performances of their representatives by using the same goals and metrics for their entire teams. Instead of using individual statistics and incentives, businesses gauge success by using broad guidelines and focusing exclusively on a few key points. Vendors are beginning to offer more incentives for new business and are worrying less about account management.

Tracking abstract points
While finding new clients is the goal of every sales representative, customer retention is the key factor to long-term success. It's easy to quantify data like new purchases and payments, but abstract concepts like customer satisfaction don't lend themselves well to analytics. Spahr said managers are looking for alternative means to measure satisfaction so that it can be included in incentive programs.

"[Customer satisfaction] must be measurable, strategic, and controllable by the rep. Surveyed customers will praise their reps or simply not respond, so firms are looking for other measures, such as repeat business or recurring revenue," Spahr told Selling Power.

New software can help managers track how all of these different metrics factor into sales performance. Companies can customize applications for their incentive programs so that agents can receive instant updates on their statistics, even for abstract concepts like customer satisfaction.

Additionally, gamification can provide an easy-to-understand point system for overall performance. Representatives know how to measure their sales, but client retention isn't always as clear. Managers can turn their practices into games and award points to the agents who perform well when it comes to fostering loyalty among their clients.