Incentivizing with Money: Employee Motivation Strategies

 You could be a startup with a single salesperson or a large public corporation with 100s of sales people / account executives / legal teams / customer service departments / finance teams / engineers and executives. Either way, it is good to understand how to motivate through pay structures. Having happy people work, support, and sell your product or service can mean the difference between success and failure.

Here is a salesperson commission sensitivity table that has a few different commission configurations to test out with various sales volumes and tiers of bonuses.

Incentivizing salespeople with commissions or bonuses is a common practice in the sales industry. Commission is a form of payment that is based on the salesperson's performance and is typically a percentage of the sales they generate. Bonuses are a fixed or discretionary amount that is awarded to the salesperson for meeting or exceeding specific performance targets. Incentivizing salespeople in this manner can drive motivation and increase sales, but it can also create imbalances in pay and foster competition among salespeople. Additionally, the design of the incentive program should be carefully considered to ensure it aligns with the company's overall goals and values.

It seems like the quick and easy answer to motivation, but this style does work because people are driven by making more money and want to know if they work harder and make more money for the company, then they will reap some of the rewards. It keeps the engines moving. 

It is important to figure out the right rates so the company can still operate and is not crippled by too high of commissions, but also is giving enough of an incentive so that there is meaningful rewards for the salespeople. You must have a deep understanding of the unit economics of various products and services, what you want the sales people to push, and how that helps meet goals over time.

How to Build a Great Incentive Program for All Your Employees

Note, you can have bonuses for other employees besides just salespeople, but here are some ways to begin a general program.

  • Define company goals: Clearly outline the company's overall goals and objectives, such as increasing revenue, expanding market share, or improving customer satisfaction.
  • Assess sales roles and responsibilities: Identify the specific sales goals and responsibilities of each salesperson, and make sure that their incentives align with their roles and responsibilities. The same goes for other departments, figure out what helps your company be better (customer service / providing financial reports on time / hitting budgets / achieving development milestones)
  • Consider sales performance metrics: Decide on the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be used to measure sales performance and determine how these metrics align with the company's goals. This could be where you begin to also identify KPIs you want to track for other departments and base a simple bonus structure on that. For example, is the Accounting team getting all their reports on time for a certain amount of quarters in a row or has the customer service team had under a certain amount of complaints. The only limit here is creativity.
  • Create a fair and balanced incentive program: Make sure that the incentive program is fair and balanced, so that it motivates all employees to perform at their best and doesn't create imbalances or conflicts among them.
  • Regularly review and adjust the program: Continuously monitor the effectiveness of the incentive program and adjust it as needed based on its impact on sales performance and overall company goals.
  • Communicate the program effectively: Clearly communicate the incentive program and its goals to salespeople / department heads and ensure they understand how their incentives align with the company's goals.

Here is a template to track KPIs by department so you can get some ideas.

You may also find this performance tracking template / dashboard useful for car salespeople.

These trackers are free with any other purchase on the site, just email me for them:

Goal vs Actual Tracker

Bonus Calculator

Different departments may have different Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) depending on their goals and objectives. Here are some common KPIs for various departments:



  • Sales revenue
  • New customer acquisition rate
  • Repeat customer rate
  • Average deal size
  • Sales cycle length
  • Win rate (i.e. the percentage of sales deals that result in a sale)
  • Lead response time

Customer Service:

  • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)
  • First response time
  • Resolution time
  • Repeat customer issues
  • Net promoter score (NPS)
  • Customer churn rate

Human Resources:

  • Employee turnover rate
  • Time to fill a position
  • Employee satisfaction score (ESAT)
  • Diversity and inclusion metrics
  • Training and development programs completion rate
  • Absence rate


  • Revenue growth rate
  • Gross margin
  • Operating profit margin
  • Return on investment (ROI)
  • Debt-to-equity ratio
  • Cash flow
Here is a list of many more financial ratios and how to calculate them.

Supply Chain:

  • Inventory turnover rate
  • Order fulfillment accuracy
  • Lead time
  • Delivery reliability
  • Capacity utilization
  • Supplier performance score
Here are more inventory management templates to help your supply chain efforts.

These are just a few examples of KPIs, as the specific KPIs will vary depending on the department and the company's goals and objectives.