By: Jason King
Nine months after originally being posted, the article Do Sales Spiffs Really Work? is still one of the most visited posts on this blog. This is very telling data – people continue searching for answers when it comes to measuring ROI on their incentives programs.
One of the chief advantages of digitizing sales incentives programs that we continually stress is the ability to measure program effectiveness in real time. I can only speak for our software, of course, when I say real time but we shall assume that any digital platform you may use to administer your programs is giving you reporting significantly sooner than a mail-in or other campaign. Real-time effectiveness measurement gives you the first hint of the answer to the above question: are my sales incentives programs effective? If you want to go a bit further down the rabbit hole, however, a lot of debate still circles around what constitutes a meaningful change in behaviour. To be specific: are your programs causing sellers and buyers to favour your product more often at time of purchase?
What Is Meaningful?
The challenge in getting down to a simple definition of meaningful behavioural change here is first arriving at what a reasonable expectation of that change might be. With the incredible and ever-increasing amount of inputs your salespeople and consumers face every day, is it still reasonable to expect to build long-lasting, set-it-and-forget it-type loyalty for your product? Having worked in the automotive industry a few years ago during a period of sweeping change and now watching the fickle consumer electronics market, I can think of a few brands who would agree that lasting type of brand loyalty is out the window.
Goals + Needs
I propose that to move the needle right now, it is important to more closely align the mechanics of your sales incentives with the short-term needs of your sellers and buyers. It has never been easier to be in touch with those needs via a vast array of communication platforms. This is an age of custom culture and with the availability of powerful tools to customize your programs you have a way to effectively earn the attention and favour of these important folks. What you do not have is the right to assume that you can retain that favour in a lasting way.
We have this really cool machine in our office that will make a wide array of hot, caffeinated drinks on demand. Not quite as cool as having our own barista, but super convenient. The funny thing about this device is that when I started here in May 2012, it was “the amazing office coffee robot” but now in September 2013 it is simply “the coffee machine.” Do you follow? The gild is off the caffeinated lily, so to speak.
The same goes for your sales incentives – if you want to own the favour of your channel partners and their sales associates, the onus is heavily on you to keep them engaged. It is only fair and, really, it will make your job more fun. This may mean breaking your planning into shorter-term goals but technology helps you to make this easier too as well as make real-time adjustments on the fly.
Customizing programs for your partners makes them feel valued and they will like your programs for the same reason that all custom culture succeeds – it connects with people in a more meaningful way. Being creative with your programs makes them more engaging because they are simply more interesting to people. Create engaging touch points in how they claim their incentives and you are changing the physical behaviour they associate with how they get paid. While your competitors battle for the attention of these same folks, if you are keeping them engaged and well-paid, then you will be changing their behaviour and you will be accomplishing your goals for as long as you earn the right to do so.
Jason is the Content and Community guy at 360Incentives.com Connect with Jason on Twitter @JayKing71, LinkedIn or Google+ 360 is changing the world of incentives. To find out how, book a call with us now!