Historically, sales incentive & recognition programs have been treated as an afterthought instead of a strategic initiative.
Harsh realities of COVID-19 have now moved incentive programs from back of mind to front of the chopping block, as many leaders are cutting incentive programs in order to preserve cash and candidly, I don’t blame them.
Which is a shame because when structured correctly, sales incentives have the potential to help lift revenues, reinforce leanings, increase productivity & eNPS, drive customer satisfaction, improve channel loyalty, and grow market share. Additionally, incentives have shown to help reduce accidents & absenteeism and lower employee churn.
However, as counterintuitive as it may seem, I’d argue now is the perfect time not to cut your incentive & recognition programs, but rather to reassess, retool, and relaunch them.
To do this, start by asking the question: Is our incentive program self-funding?
If your programs aren’t showing a return on investment, or if you have no idea, now is the time to clearly define your KPIs and ask yourself the question: “How will we measure success moving forward”?
Your investment in a sales incentive program should pay for itself through incremental gain by addressing your middle performers and the top performers.
4 Points to consider as you look to reassess, retool, & relaunch
1) Keep compensation and incentives separate. Incentives programs should be inspiration, not compensation and I can’t think of a time where employees are craving or needing inspiration more.
2) Slice up your audiences. Keep the top and move the middle up, or in other words, retain your best and engage the rest. To do this, you must segment your audiences based on past performance levels.
3) Grab people’s attention with creative communication methods. Keep people’s attention with authentic, consistent communication from leadership and front-line managers.
4) Provide meaningful reward choices. Including non-cash options such as merchandise, white glove, concierge individual & group travel, community give back, and personal development opportunities.
These areas are just a starting point and there are several other things to think about including touching five generations in the workforce, putting a spotlight on innovation, incorporating both intrinsic & extrinsic motivators, utilizing goal setting, picking the correct program lengths, tapping into the science of human behavior, using technology in a meaningful way & accurately capturing & reporting results.
Certainly, a lot to consider, but the bottom line is this: there is a great opportunity in front of you to start looking at your sales incentive & recognition programs through a strategic lens because when done correctly, sales incentive programs can be a powerful tool to give you a competitive advantage and drive your business forward.
If you get incentives right, you will inspire your people and partners and you will drive real business results. Offering incentive rewards and recognition solutions as part of a properly designed program supports your brand, culture, and objectives by encouraging, engaging and energizing all your associates, sales teams, dealer and channel partners and customers to support the success of your organization. It's a true win, win.
And during these difficult times, we’ll take all the wins we can get.