Many great companies have launched well thought out incentive programs with the right mix of features, benefits and participant enticements, but failed to fuel its success, gain market presence or maintain participant interest. Launching an incentive program is the easy part. Maintaining the program takes work. So, how do you build an incentive program that is both effective and lasting? Building a strong, sustainable program is much like building a fire:
1. Set up a strong foundation with the right mix of materials before lighting;
2. Light the fire with an effective heat source;
3. Fan it to build the flames; and
4. Keep feeding it proper fuel in proper increments, monitor the changing conditions and make adjustments.
Keeping a program ‘fired up’ takes work, but by following these four critical steps, you can launch and sustain a successful incentive program.
4 Critical Steps to a Successful and Sustainable Incentive Program
1. Plan your program (Set the fire’s foundation)
Ensuring you have a solid foundation for your incentive program with all the right elements in place and the right stakeholders on board will set you up for success. Focus on the needs of all participants, not just the noise of the most demanding ones. Remember, you’re creating a lasting incentive program to engage all sales reps. Make your program simple enough for everyone to participate. Sales reps need to be free to focus on selling, so incentives must be easy to understand, motivating to them, readily tracked and achievable.
2. Execute your plan effectively (Light it up!)
You have your plan and now it’s time to execute it. Change is difficult for everyone. Roll out your incentive program one step at a time, introducing components in smaller modules. Not only will this help participants grasp and embrace your program, it will also help you keep it fresh. Create advocates out of your best members and enlist their help with the onboarding process to encourage the participation of their peers. Build a regular communication schedule that participants find timely and relevant, and remember to refresh messages and offers frequently.
3.Promote and drive desired activity (Fan those flames!) This is the exciting part! Keep reps interested and get them fired up by giving recognition throughout the entire sales cycle. Make the program your core resource for participant education and take every opportunity to reinforce your brand and build loyalty. Reward reps for passing tests and/or earning certifications that develop their competency with your brand. When your reps become enthusiastic and loyal advocates, they go out of their way to sell your products, first.
4. Monitor activity, be predictable and incent the right behavior (Don’t stop feeding the fire!). As your program matures, be sure to leverage captured data to generate informed enhancements, drive higher engagement and continued program growth. Have a qualified “Success Team” on board to monitor changing conditions and make informed adjustments. Remember to reward participants in a timely manner to encourage continued and high engagement rates, and leverage those rewards to create predictability in your sales cycle and encourage participants to lead with your brand.
Just because you build it, that doesn’t mean they will come – and stay. You need to keep feeding that fire. A lasting, successful incentive program will help you achieve your desired business outcomes and drive sales growth. An incentive solution partner, with an industry leading platform and a dedicated success team, can help you achieve the results you want. They will help you keep reps engaged, drive incremental activity, highlight key products, focus sales behaviours where you want them and ensure lasting program participation to continually drive ROI.
Read our white paper which demonstrates the workings of an effective and ineffective program side by side. We’ll show you how two manufacturers in the same market and industry offered similar incentive programs to the same channel reseller audience, but had drastically different results – and why.