Your organization wants to drive sales with an incentive program. That’s a great start, because great salespeople are money motivated and also crave recognition for their outstanding efforts. What do you need to do to ensure your program gets their attention and delivers the results you desire? Here are 10 of the most important elements in designing and deploying your next incentive campaign.
1. Know your audience: Profile the people in your sales audience. What is their demographic makeup? Gen X, Y or Boomer? How do they think? Are they already in other incentive programs, or is yours the only one they’ll see? How do they view your company? Your products and services? Tailoring your program to your specific audience will generate that “Wow!” reaction you want.
2. Target the right market segments: Decide which sales organizations, geographies and channels will deliver maximum performance for your incentive budget. Some targets are especially appropriate; others make no sense at all. For example, a channel program should never include a warehouse club in its incentive strategy. Although sales are made, self-service aisles do not respond to incentive programs.
3. Establish clear goals: Determine what success looks like. How big is your target audience? What penetration do you expect at enrollment? Based on your current sales rate, how much do you expect it to increase during the promotion? Is your sales goal units or dollars? What is your current market share and where would you like to drive it? Do you want to motivate all participants or only the top 20 percent? You can have different goals for different promotions; just be clear and specific.
4. Allocate adequate budget dollars: Your rewards must be meaningful to your audience. If the rewards are knick-knacks, do you really believe they will change behavior? The rewards must be consistent enough and lucrative enough to get people to move off the dime. Also, your promotional campaign must be high enough profile to attract the right market penetration. And allow adequate support for program administration.
5. Select the right reward structure: Accomplishing your goal is driven by the type of promotion you run. Different programs accomplish different objectives. Group travel to a luxury resort at an exotic destination creates prestige and an opportunity to rub shoulders with the sales team’s top performers and your executive team. Tangible rewards create long lasting impressions. The best salespeople are money motivated, therefore reloadable prepaid card programs continuously and addictively reinforce that drive.
6. Develop a compelling promotional campaign: This is basic, but a bit trickier than a few years ago. Traditional launch campaigns still fit in certain contexts, especially where you are directly aware of each individual salesperson. However, when recruiting from a large and fluid audience, social media, referenceable market communities, and referral campaigns all have their place.
7. Pay for performance: “Sizzle and Hype” vs. “Pay for Performance”: Each have a place, but sustainable results seem to line up in the Pay for Performance column. Meaning that the audience reacts well to getting paid and immediate gratification is reinforced. Most program sponsors also like the idea of paying for performance. Margins are thinner than ever, and each promotional dollar must generate directly attributable ROI.
8. Provide a supporting foundation of product knowledge: People sell what they know. Take advantage of every opportunity to educate them on the benefits and features of your offering. Utilize online training, quiz and survey tools … and compensate them for their attention. There will be dividends in the sales column.
9. Measure results – and adapt: Every month your program is in place, look at the results. Have you got as many participants as you planned? If not, spend more time recruiting. Does the $10 spiff move the needle? If not, next month make it $15. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that results are extremely sensitive to market conditions, salesperson attitudes, and, of course, product availability. Static programs are a thing of the past.
10. Utilize automation toools: Rewards are important, but to get noticed in today’s competitive, fast-paced incentive environment, you need the ability to offer a wide variety of exciting, quickly adaptable promotion types. This requires more than a summer intern using a spreadsheet. A modern incentive management firm will provide incentive automation software capable of implementing flexible and timely motivational strategies.
George Kriza has more than 30 years of experience in high-technology and consumer electronics markets. He is the founder of MTC Performance, a leading innovator of sales incentive management solutions for top Fortune 500 and growing middle market companies to more efficiently deliver exciting, effective programs that inspire success and reward results.