6 Persuasion Principles to Boost Your Sales Incentives Program

October 2, 2017 Kleon Van

A sales incentive program can do much more than simply increase sales. Using the Six Principles of Persuasion based on Dr. Robert Cialdini’s theory of influence, you can reinforce certain positive behaviors and integrate them with your organization’s culture over time.

The Six Principles include:

  1. Reciprocity
  2. Commitment & Consistency
  3. Social Proof
  4. Liking
  5. Authority
  6. Scarcity

Below, I’ll go over what they mean and how you can utilize the principles to improve your sales incentives program.



People who receive things are more likely to give things to others due to a sense of indebtedness. This applies to things such as gifts, invitations, and favors, but this can also relate to recognition. When sales reps are recognized for their hard work, they’ll want to pass on the good karma. Increased recognition can lead to increased engagement, which helps your sales team overall.

Commitment & Consistency

When asking for a commitment, it’s easier to ask for many small commitments before suggesting a large one. This principle can be reinforced within an incentive program by upper management and other respected authority figures. For example, when starting a new incentive program or reactivating an existing program, begin with rewards for small improvements, then move toward larger behavior changes.

Social Proof

This principle is based on how we are likely to trust things that are popular or endorsed by people that we like or trust. In a sales incentive program, you can implement a social feed that shows what people are getting recognized for and what things they have done. When sales reps  see others get recognition for such tasks, they will trust peer-to-peer recognition  and will try to seek that approval as well.


We tend to do business with people we like, who are similar to us, and who compliment us. When you’re likeable, things tend to move more smoothly. This is why often trust word-of-mouth recommendations from our peers or products endorsed by beloved celebrities. Within a sales incentive program, continued recognition can increase likeability and will benefit employee culture.


It’s human nature to follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable experts. You can use this principle to your advantage by helping your sales team become subject matter experts. This will put your organization on a platform as an authority on the topic and customers will look to you for advice. In order to do so, you can offer your sales reps opportunities to take quizzes and certification promotions that will award points to passing participants.


Scarcity is a principle that plays on your human nature. When things are more exclusive, we tend to think they are usually better than things that are easily attainable. As someone who works in sales, you can use this principle to make certain offers more sought after. You can also create promotions for your sales incentive program that have limited payouts or incentives to entice your salespeople to participate.


Now that you know of the Six Principles of Persuasion, what are you going to do to influence your sales team? Let us know! 

About the Author

Kleon Van

Kleon Van is a Marketing Team Lead at Perks Worldwide.

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