Channel Incentives and Promotions: 4 Key Learnings From 2013

2013 was an incredible year for us at 360. Aside from hitting our growth goals as a company, we had the opportunity to learn a lot.

In the course of operating thousands of unique programs for our clients, some really interesting findings came to the surface. In the interest of keeping our client’s business proprietary to them, here are the top four things we learned which can be adopted by any company who wants to get more out of their sales incentives campaigns.  One caveat – all of these cases are of clients currently using our platform, so to get the most out of these points, you must at least have digitized your campaigns or be planning to digitize them.

1.  Do sales spiffs really work?  Here’s a question we get all the time, in fact so much that we have dedicated entire blog posts to it before. While we might typically only have access  to a client’s sales data for only the sales that fall under promotional programs, one client took the time analyze how digitizing had affected their overall business. Right out of the gate, the answer was that spiffs still work incredibly well at the front lines. Prior to digitizing their programs, the company only had the capacity to pay out claims after 30-60 days. The step of digitizing simplified the processing of all their claims so now they can pay three times per week and have been able quantify a significant lift directly tied to this change.

2.  Pay them well, but only pay them once.  Once you digitize, you can make sure you don’t pay things more than once. Sounds simple, right? Another client who is a distributor of luxury appliances that often come with a decent sized spiff in the neighbourhood of $200-300.  Without the proper visibility, they were double or even triple paying some of the spiffs!   Whether honest or not, these mistakes were costing the company big dollars as well as reducing the overall amount of promotion spend they could dedicate to paying out on more sales transactions. With digitizing, came huge savings.

3.  Pay the people who support your brand. Having digitized, the same client now had huge visibility.  Previously their spiff payments as a percentage of sales looked all good on paper, but what they realized was that there are certain retailers who might be selling on the Internet and that paying a spiff to those sellers wasn’t changing where the client’s goods appeared on the retailer’s site or really changing anything about how the goods were being sold. The question was raised “why pay the online seller the same sales spiff that they were paying people who were truly supporting the product and pushing it on the floors in brick/mortar stores? The company made an adjustment to their incentives offerings and saved over $200K.

4.  Connection to the front lines.  With digitizing comes the opportunity to have a branded online portal to drive people to for claim redemption.  With that comes the opportunity for more communication each time a person logs in to enter more claims. Clients looking to make meaningful change to the behaviours of their resellers noted that the more often they paid out, the more frequently the sales associates were logging in to enter claims. Here are a couple remarkable ways our clients harnessed this increased engagement:

  • A client started using survey tools in their portal, offering a $50 random draw to sales associates who would fill out the survey.  They got over 800 respondents from the first one! Where else can a company get that sort of insight for fifty dollars?
  • Having an online portal allows brands to communicate straight to the front lines, rather than through their own salespeople. An example of this being useful is in cases where sales managers will tell the clients that they spend lots of time training people on the floor, but the people on the floor might say otherwise.  Product knowledge and relationships are two of the top reasons why sales people choose to sell the products they do, and so this type of learning is important to keep growing.

Summarizing the benefit of digitizing sales incentives programs comes down to a single word: visibility. Through greater visibility, companies are able to draw more insights to help them make smarter decisions and ultimately run more effective promotions.

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Jason Atkins 360incentivesJason Atkins is the Founder/CEO of 360Incentives.com and plays himself in our corporate video.  Connect with Jason on Twitter @jayatkins or Google +.