Each successful incentive program has four key elements that will be sure to put a smile on your participant’s face. Without these elements, you are left with gaping holes that do more to foster disengagement than connection.

For sales leaders looking to measurably grow sales and loyal relationships with their sales reps, our sales performance practice combines data-driven insights and expertise in human behavior to design and deliver more targeted and engaging performance improvement.

The four strategies you must have are:

  1. Attention-Getting Strategies – Attention is the currency of the modern age
  2. Goal Commitment Strategy – Allow your participants to internalize the outcome
  3. Feedback Strategies – Ensure this feedback is visual
  4. Reward Strategies – Create memorable moments

However, just haphazardly placing these pieces in your incentive program is not enough to ensure your program has life. Instead you need delicate placement and positioning of these elements in the incentive program to make sure you get a lasting positive response from your participants.

Watch the video below to get more insights into these elements and how they fit within a successful incentive program.

Without these four key elements, your program will be lifeless and missing elements to engage your participants. And if not placed correctly, your program will likely create poor participant experience.

The key is perfectly aligning these elements to ensure your participants are happy and engaged.

What elements are you missing in your programs? Let us know in the comments.

Today we welcome Steve Cox as a guest blogger. Steve currently leads the Business Development team at Maritz Motivation Solutions and he brings a fresh perspective, with a twist of fun, to the conversation.

It all started with the Northwood Elementary Physical Education fund-raising effort in 6th grade. The school needed funds to update the school’s equipment. Someone in the administration (aka Northwood Elementary’s VP of Sales) thought, “How could we get a 10% lift in revenue that would enable us to meet our fundraising goals?” And BINGO, along came the “Adventure Land Sales Competition.”

Every student was invited to join in the effort. Turn on the charm, smile and sell the most raffle tickets to potential “clients” otherwise known as neighbors, family members or local shopping mall patrons, and you’d win two tickets to Adventure Land! Runner up got you $15 and third place netted a real whopper of a prize, a coupon for a free burger!

Wow, a true sales incentive. It didn’t matter if you were the smartest, most athletic or most musically inclined. The contest was aimed at engaging as many students as possible to help drive incremental revenue for the school. Little did I know there was an ulterior motive for the school! All I knew was that I wanted to go to Adventure Land so watch out neighborhood here I come!!

It was the right reward for the right audience with the right rules to drive engagement and participation. Initially, every student had an opportunity to get their name on the leaderboard as sales kicked off – just like any good sales contest or incentive. The competition was short and sweet allowing just enough time to achieve the school’s objectives and to maintain a 12-year-old’s attention. Remarkably on target for any sales incentive to be honest.

Too many sales contests and incentives today are over-engineered, slow to evolve and hard to measure. It seems as though people pay attention early and are generally intrigued out of the gate. And then as they dive into the “rules,” they find things complex with lots of caveats on how to qualify and win. That was the beautiful thing about the Adventure Land Challenge: simple rules, motivating rewards and enough reinforcements to keep us engaged.

Like any sales contest, things started to shake out as the program went on. The number of people on the leaderboard started to decline. And in the final stretch of the contest, you could see it was becoming a two-person race for the top prize. In the final few days of the competition, little did I know that good ole Ron Rubeck was such a brilliant sales leader disguised as a PE teacher. He knew all too well that Tammy Fetters and I were neck and neck at the top. And he also knew we were both motivated to catch a ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl.

Each opportunity Mr. Rubeck had he’d remind us about the prize and how close we were to achieving success. He made me feel like he was truly interested in my success! In the end, Tammy edged me out by one darn ticket. Really? One ticket? The dream of a day at Adventure Land was gone. If only I’d knocked on a couple more doors. At least the $15 runner-up prize helped soften the blow a little. You could buy quite a few Matchbox cars with that kind of money back in the day.

As it turned out this sales contest accomplished exactly what I think we all hope for from our own sales teams: engagement, participation, new sales and memorable rewards. If you think about it, don’t we wish all of our salespeople remembered last month’s spurt or incentive for as long as I’ve remembered this one? Every time I see an amusement park there’s a subtle reminder of the program. Oh, and by the way, congratulations Tammy!

Still Focusing Your Sales Incentives On Top Performers?

Improve Program ROI When You Move The Middle Instead

Often in initial conversations with potential clients, we’ll hear “Oh, we have a sales incentive program.  We take our top salespeople on a trip every year.”  While a nice trip can be very appealing it’s not really an incentive because not everyone can earn.  Rather, it’s a way of recognizing top performance.  And this recognition is something we recommend to our clients.

With direct salesforces, we often see a normative distribution of performance.  The top 10%-20% of Reps are self-motivated and will perform to their capabilities regardless of the incentive provided.  At the other end of the curve are the lowest performers, most of whom are, hopefully, new to the firm.

Maritz Incentives Move The Middle

Recognize the Best, Engage the Rest. And Do It Right.

Recognizing the contribution of top performers is critical, and should be treated as an investment in retention.  If you don’t recognize them, your competitors will.  And share theft is the easiest way to grow a business.

Sales incentive programs are aimed at the middle 60%-70% of the population.  Some might say “why do I need to incent them, it’s what I pay them for!”  And there is some truth there.  If there is no gap between your objectives and the performance of the sales force you may well not need an incentive.  However, if there is a gap, a well-designed sales incentive program is likely the best way to close it.  And there is a reason for that.

A program that calls for the top 10% of salespeople to qualify for a travel award may engage 30% or so of the population.  The remaining 70% feel they have no real chance to earn the award.  A sales incentive program is often designed to drive increased unit sales, accomplishment of individual objectives or delivery of incremental volume.  In any event, a well-designed sales incentive program will engage all participants because, unlike with a top performer program, the Rep need only compete with him or herself, not with the entire group.  The ability to be reinforced for individual increment is what differentiates the incentive from recognition. And because top performers are just that, the increment they can generate is often limited.

Just the opposite is true for the middle 70%.  Design the program with these folks in mind and the sales incentive will often generate more than enough incremental profitability to fund both the recognition and incentive programs.