Tips for delivering sales incentives that work

Sales incentives can be effective at driving revenue or improving important seller behaviors. Whether you want to implement a new incentive program or improve and existing program, planning is essential. Below is an A to Z approach to successful sales incentive program development.

Allow anticipation. Build excitement and suspense by teasing the program before launch. Review program components and rules prior to start date to ensure sellers understand the program and how to participate.

Behavior affects sales.
What behaviors do your top reps exhibit? Design your program to encourage those behaviors in more of your sellers. The last thing you want to do is create a sales incentive that can result in an immediate sales increase but poor customer satisfaction or retention down the road.

Consider your sales cycle. The length of your incentive program should correlate with your average sales cycle. Give your sellers enough opportunity to develop their leads into sales.

Deliver on your promises. Nothing can deflate a good incentive program by missing a deadline or not delivering the program rewards as described.

Educate, educate, educate. Inform your sellers not just on the incentive program and benefits, but also on your products/services. Arm your sellers with the knowledge they need to hit sales objectives.

Find a few evangelists. Engage key managers and sellers to build excitement throughout the incentive period. Enthusiasm is contagious.

Grow your mid-level sellers results, not just the top 20%. Your top sellers are already outstanding, don’t just reward them. Create a program that helps motivate and drive key behaviors in mid-level sellers to develop them into top-level sellers.

Have clear program goals. Understand the behaviors you want to effect and the short-term and long-term benefits you want to develop. Ensure that the program you develop directly supports those behaviors and goals.

Incorporate management. If the incentive is not a priority for management, it won’t be a priority for your sellers. It’s also a good idea to run the incentive specifics by management prior to launch. They may have key insight on motivating sellers, timing conflicts or suggestions for program improvement.

Justify your budget. The incentive program should reward sellers for behavior that is above and beyond their normal performance. If your program is new and you are unsure of results, you can limit your exposure by implementing incentive limits. Just make sure that your reporting can support the qualification of those limits and that you clearly define them in the program rules.

Keep it simple. If the program is confusing, has too many components or has too many hurdles you won’t get participation.

Learn from past programs. Talk to management and sales to understand what programs have been run in the past. Understand what components worked well and which ones should not be used again.

Make it fun. What other components can you incorporate to generate excitement? Launch events, celebration parties and social media engagement are all ways to get people to enthusiastically participate.

Name your campaign. Generate program excitement and recognition by creating a specific logo, tagline and theme. Carry those elements through all communications on the program.

Objectively review your program. Take a moment, step back and review your program. Would you be motivated by this program? If not, it’s not likely to motivate anyone else.

Provide motivating incentives. Make sure the prizes are things your sellers may want. If offering specific items, you may want to select something that is gender neutral, appeals to a variety of demographics or offer a few prizes for sellers to choose their preferred item.

Qualify your data. You know how you want to run your program. Do you have access to the reporting necessary to determine program winners? Do additional reports or dashboards need to be built? Know when your data is available and how that will affect when you announce winners.

Research your incentives. Make sure the prizes you have selected will be available for purchase and you will be able to distribute them at promotion end. Receive approval from your legal department on your program structure and prize selections.

Set achievable goals. Nothing is worse than an incentive program that has no winners. Make sure you are asking your sellers to stretch their abilities but set goals they can meet.

Timing is everything. Make sure that your program can run at a time with the least competition for seller attention.

Update sellers on results. Keep sellers engaged in the program by communicating their results and reminding them of key deadlines.

Vary levels of participation. Engage your lower and middle level sellers with varied program components and prize levels.

Write down the program rules. This step can help identify areas where the program needs further development or details need more attention. This also can help prevent any misunderstandings about program requirements.

eXamine the results. Did your program produce the results you anticipated? What components would you change or add to your next program? Remember to enlist feedback from management and sellers to fully understand the effectiveness of your program.

Yell. Ok, not literally. Develop a communications strategy that keeps the program in front of your sellers. Throughout your campaign you should remind the sellers of the program requirements, educate them on the product/services offerings, provide sales tips, tease prizes and provide updates on results.

Zoom in on top performers. Wrap up your program with a ceremony or event to celebrate the program. Be sure to recognize all sellers that successfully met your incentive goals.

CSG Services offers integrated multi-touch incentive programs designed to support your business goals. Our experts are here to help with program development, marketing strategy, training support, incentive sourcing/distribution and campaign reporting.