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spiff in sales

Spiff in Sales: Motivating Your Sales Team to Hit Sales Goals

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Spiff in sales is a concept that businesses have used since at least 1947, although the word itself can be traced back to at least 1890. When sales teams are unmotivated, businesses will often introduce a spiff to help generate enthusiasm and sales.

Spiff in Sales 101: Understanding the Need for Spiff

Spiff, in a general form, is a way of telling a sales team “if you make a certain number of sales or close a certain number of deals, you’ll get a reward.” In today’s world, sales aren’t the only reasons for a spiff.

Companies may offer incentives for:

  • Booking a certain number of demos
  • Booking a certain number of meetings
  • Sending leads to download a product or eBook

A spiff is usually financially motivated – part of their sales compensation. Money may not be the only incentive. In some cases, a spiff can be a prize, vacation, or some other form of compensation or recognition.

What Does Spiff Stand for in Sales?

The term spiff can stand for a few different things, but they’re often all related to sales. The main abbreviation is “Sales Performance Incentive Funding Formula,” but more people are abbreviating it to just SPIF, or “Sales Performance Incentive Fund.”

When companies need to motivate their sales team, spiff is one of the go-to tactics that continues to work in today’s world and over 70 years ago.

Spiffs have their place in sales teams. While a spiff can generate a lot of sales, it can also cause problems within sales teams, which needs to be addressed. There are advantages and disadvantages to salesman competitions that need to be considered, too.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Salesman Competition

Salesmen are responsible for making sales. These individuals are the backbone of every business, and they’re known for being competitive by nature. Making a sale or booking a demo is an adrenaline rush – a sense of accomplishment.

Adding in salesmen competition has its advantages and disadvantages that need to be considered on a team-by-team basis.

Advantages of a Salesman Competition

Businesses need ways to motivate their employees to meet sales goals. Their OTE might not always be enough. Healthy competition can make salespeople push their limits, leave their comfort zones and advance in the field. The advantages of spiff in sales are:

  • Product visibility. A major sales push is how Apple was able to stop competitors in the PC market. When a spiff is ongoing, sales teams will go to great lengths to make sales and reach potential buyers. Product visibility improves during competition, and when targeted properly, it can help push your product above a competitor’s product.
  • Rapid revenue generation. Incentives help encourage sales and make employees work harder. Businesses can reach sales goals and generate more revenue when sales teams are working harder. If short-term sales are needed, spiffs can help.
  • Enthusiast. Employees that are invested in a product or service are better sellers than those that are disengaged. Competition helps sales teams really learn about a product or service and encourage enthusiasm by offering incentives. This enthusiasm can last well beyond the end date of the spiff.

Spiffs help acquire new accounts, which can lead to long-term sales. Salesmen that are part of a spiff become more invested in a product, will reach more leads and increase short-term revenue. Depending on the type of product or service, these sales may generate recurring sales for the business.

Disadvantages of a Salesman Competition

Your business may make its sales goals thanks to introducing a spiff in sales, but there are some drawbacks that are important for you to consider. Motivating a business development representative to do more, isn’t always going to be a positive thing. The spiff can lead to a few key issues:

  • Slower closing of deals. Sales teams want to win competitions, and if you have a spiff scheduled, they may delay certain closings to inflate their numbers. Avoid this practice by surprising teams with a spiff rather than telling them in advance.
  • Lost revenue. A spiff will generate a lot of revenue, but it’s a mistake to think that because one spiff was a success that you now need to put 10 in place. Coordinating the spiff and offering incentives will reduce revenue totals. Try and limit the number of competitions per year and also put in timeframes so that there’s a clear start and finish to the event.
  • Competitiveness. Being competitive is a good thing, but if someone is being offered a vacation for winning, the competitiveness can make the workplace toxic. Multiple prize options can keep salesmen working hard and trying to boost sales. Otherwise, when there’s just one potential winner or incentive, it can lead to some team members giving up because they know they can’t win.
  • Taxable. Depending on where you live, a spiff may be taxable. Typically, the income is considered a miscellaneous commission. A salesperson that wins a vacation will be taxed on the vacation amount.

There are ways to negate these disadvantages. Managers can offer incentives for each member that passes their sales quota, or you can offer multiple incentives for the top five or ten salespeople.

Spiff Ideas for Sales Reps

If you’re not sure what kind of spiff to run, there are a lot to choose from. You can make up your own competition, or you can use some of the spiff ideas below to spark your team’s enthusiasm for your product.

  • Cash. Offer a monetary prize for the top salespersons who generate more sales.
  • Gift cards. Offer store-specific or generic gift cards, such as a Visa gift card.
  • Vacation. Weekend getaways or a travel voucher are good incentives for sales employees to work harder.
  • Tickets. If a major sporting event is being held in your area, tickets to the event can motivate salespeople.
  • Dining. Provide the winner with a dinner for two at an exclusive restaurant in town.
  • Memberships. Offer a membership, paid for a specific amount of time, to the winner. This can be a golf club membership or a year membership at a gym.
  • Subscriptions. A subscription plan is another nice idea. Offer a subscription for a year to something related to your industry. For example, a nutrition company may offer a subscription to home delivery meals.
  • Bigger office or perk. Some companies give access to resources, technology or other items that other workers don’t have access to already. Other companies may offer a big office to the top sales performer.
  • Training or education. Provide exclusive training or education to the employee.
  • Prestige. Salespeople are competitive, and offering them a special title or the ability to train other sales associates is a good option, too. 
  • Winner’s choice. Allow the winner to choose the prize they want to purchase up to a certain amount. For example, the winner gets a prize of their choosing up to $500.
  • Team-wide awards. If you don’t want to create toxicity in teams, an entire team may win an award. This may be a night out for the entire team, or a team getaway for the weekend.

These are just some of the many ideas for spiff in sales. You can even offer a trophy or make the winner the boss for a day or a week. Managers and/or owners should try and judge what their employees would want for winning. You can also pass around surveys months ahead of time to determine the right reward for winning.

Unmotivated sales teams cost companies $550 billion per year. If a spiff can motivate your employees to work harder and be committed to reach your goals, it’s worth the cost. The ideas above can help, but sales commission software can also make the process much easier.

Sales Commission Software Tools to Promote Spiff in Sales

Managing sales is difficult, and as teams grow, the process can become time-consuming and a burden for team leaders. Sales software can help businesses manage sales, whether they’re made during a spiff or a regular week.

A few of the many sales software tools available are:


Spiff is designed to automate commissions and motivate sales teams. There’s no need for coding, spreadsheets or expensive professional services. When you choose Spiff, you’ll be able to demo the platform and gain access to features all designed to generate sales.

The top three features are:

  1. Real-time commissioning
  2. Personalized dashboards for commissioned team members
  3. Management portal

Real-time Commissioning

Real-time commission overviews allow for immediate rewards and motivation among sales reps. The rep can see all updates in real-time when they close deals to understand what their commissions will look like at the end of the week or month.

Personalized Dashboards for Commissioned Team Members 

Sales reps have their own portals, allowing for full transparency. The portals have commission estimates along with compensation statements, performance reports for individuals and teams, and also dispute management. 

The portal’s transparency ensures team members know how they’re generating sales and what they can expect in terms of commission.

Spiff Overview

Management Portal

Management has access to their own portal, allowing for a high overview of performance reports for entire teams down to specific reps. Quota assignments can be made along with workflows and approvals.

Management also has access to override commissions or split them as necessary.

Spiff also makes it easy for administrators to perform comp modeling design comps and control budgets, too. The platform has CRM, HCM/HRIS and financial system integration to work alongside tools that your team already uses.


QuotaPath provides a single dashboard that automates commissions and helps forecast revenues. Demo accounts are available for businesses to see the platform in action and determine if it’s a good choice for their team.

The platform puts an end to the old way of tracking commissions with spreadsheets by offering a robust set of features that guide teams to sales success. Three of the main features are:

  1. Custom compensation plans
  2. Robust dashboard portals
  3. Insights and forecast attainment

Custom Compensation Plans

Spiff in sales is unique, and the platform’s customization options work specifically based on spiffs, monthly quotas, quarterly bonuses and more. Managers can design their own comp plan, or use one of the 20+ templates to get started. 

Robust Dashboard Portals

Tracking commissions and sales is possible through a set of dashboards for sales reps, managers and administrators. The dashboard allows for detailed audits, commission calculation, real-time CRM integration into Salesforce and HubSpot and control overrides for deals.

Insights and Forecast Attainment

Sales leaders and reps can both use insights and forecast attainment to track sales. Commission statements and custom reporting along with forecasting the sales pipeline can help ensure that businesses have the cashflow to make important decisions.

Managers can also look at an overview of sales and then refine sales to see how individual reps are performing.

QuotaPath Overview


CaptivateIQ offers clear and accurate commissions for all teams, from accounting to sales teams. The platform has helped companies across the world monetize their commissions with a robust set of features that allow you to run commissions in minutes.

Three key features offered are:

  1. Data integration
  2. Commission planning
  3. Team management

Data Integration

Integrate data sources directly into your workflow with automatic syncing to allow for powerful, real-time calculations for every team. Data integration further reduces errors and disputes by ensuring that data is pulled from the same resources month after month.

The platform integrates with Salesforce, Snowflake, Amazon Redshift, MySQL, and other data sources.

Commission Planning

Plan and build commission with a platform that scales and grows to meet your team’s needs. On-the-fly changes can be made to any part of the commission plan, and audits can be made to avoid costly errors.

Three steps are all that’s needed to build a robust commission plan for teams of all sizes.

Team Management

Full team management is possible, with the ability to resolve pay disputes internally, customize multiple agreements, track signature process and conduct full plan management in one easy-to-use dashboard.

Spiff in sales is a proven way to motivate sales employees to work their hardest to sell your products or reach your conversion goals. While your business will have to spend money and resources on the spiff, revenue will increase and sales goals reached.

CaptivateIQ Overview

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