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The sales are less frequent, morale is low, and that nagging thought of not reaching your promised yearly sales goal seems to weigh heavier with every passing day…

…It’s time to breathe some new life into your team with a Spiff Program!

What is a Spiff Program?

Spiff programs are short-term incentives targeted at individual sales reps to accelerate sales of a particular set of products within a specific span of time. Also known as channel incentive programs and sales incentive programs, spiffs produce performance improvement, measurable results, and engaged participants.

Spiffs are a fundamental element of sales management and can serve many useful purposes. These incentives can provide general motivation to the sales force, or they can improve performance in targeted areas. Either way, not utilizing one of the most time-tested and proven methods of boosting your sales numbers is a grave mistake made by many new sales managers. So many, in fact, that about 70% of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged.”

Define Your Goals

The first and most crucial step is determining your goals. The #1 mistake made by frantic companies is racing to implementation without clear, concise, written goals.

What factors are critical to the success of your business? Goals for Spiff Programs

• Sales
• Market Share
• New Customers
• Pipeline Generation
• Employee Enablement, Training, Education
• Engagement of Employees, Customers, Partners
• Customer Service

Choose three goals or less to focus on the desired results of your program. If you try to boil the ocean, you’re not going to get anything cooking.

And remember to keep the two most essential perspectives in mind: your sponsors and your participants.

Is your executive sponsor feel the program’s investment will pay off and generate a satisfactory return? If you were a participant, would you put forth the extra effort to take advantage of this opportunity? Understanding the desired outcomes of your spiff program will help define the goals set within it.

Your Target Audience

Now, determine who can impact your goals and how. Let’s start by making of list of who is going to be participating in the spiff program.


• Employees or customers
• Sales Reps, channel partners, 3rd party agents
• Age
• Gender
• Average income
• Functional role, job titles, and levels
• # of Participants
• # of Locations, stores, or companies
• Countries, regions, divisions


• Level of buy-in or engagement presently
• The current level of motivation
• Capability to improve, learn, or sell
• Extrinsically or intrinsically motivated
• Attitudes, interests, and opinions

Truly understanding those that take part in the incentive program will drastically increase buy-in from your sponsors and participants. This is the most vital step in ultimately deciding the layout, timing, and rewards of your program.

Program Structure

Now you have your target audience in mind; it’s time to lay the foundation of the program. An effective program structure, or incentive contest rules, must be designed to achieve your objectives and budget parameters. Tell the participants what you want them to do and what they will earn doing it.

Here are a few program types to help you get started:

Types of program structures for a Spiff Program

Open-Ended Programs: Enable all people who achieve program goals to earn awards.

Closed-Ended Programs: Have a pre-determined, limited number of award winners.

Plateau Programs: Provide awards at different levels of program achievement.

For more in-depth details on the pros and cons of these program structures, as well as the insider info on how we at Brightspot can help design, manage, and launch your spiff program, download our eBook: 12.5 Steps to a Perfect Incentive Program.

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Michael Pisterzi

Author Michael Pisterzi

Marketing Manager | Tech-centric marketer with a dedication to relationship marketing in the incentives & events industry.

More posts by Michael Pisterzi