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Creating Sales Incentive Programs That Work

Part 2: What A Good Incentive Program Needs

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Creating Sales Incentive Programs That Work

Sales Achievement by Incentive

Image (c) Nick White / Getty Images

What does a good incentive program need to be successful?

3) Education: Edison may have invented the light bulb, but it never went anywhere until a salesperson understood its benefits and made the first sale… and probably sold a lamp to go with it! Incentive programs don't just sell themselves. Too often, expensive motivational programs are overlooked in the field because reps. either don't understand their value and/or are unsure how to sell them. Many times, good incentive programs are written off as having missed the target, when in reality, they just weren't rolled out and managed properly.

4) Competition: Everyone's heard the expression, "Timing is Everything!" This is particularly important sage advice for the successful incentive program planner. Marketing execs. can't know when every competitive incentive program will rear its aggressive head, but they can take strides to ensure their program is given first look.

Any successful salesperson will tell you, "Most sales are made as a result of due diligence on the front end." Simply put, the better the preparation, the more likely the sale. The same can be said for incentive initiatives. Real incentive programs, like new movie releases, are something to be anticipated. The right amount of promotion ensures greater acceptance and interest that often usurps focus on competing programs.

5) Reward: Any reward-value can become an unmotivated, anticlimactic activity if the time span between winning and getting is too long. Successful incentive programs reward immediately! As a rule, the faster the reward is delivered, the greater the enthusiasm for the incentive program.

Although on some levels, salespeople are a complex breed, when it comes to incentives, they are - for the most part - quite predictable. Their nature is to react to excitement or challenge faster then most, and then move on. One way to maximize their natural bent and ensure greater program success is simply to cater to their natural motivators. "Get them their stuff QUICKLY!"

6) Recognition: At the risk of making salespeople appear shallow or monolithic (they are not), recognition amongst their peers is still the quintessential motivator, whether there's an incentive program or not. The rule again, is, there is no such thing as TOO much recognition! Salespeople by nature gravitate to the limelight much like other performers, and so there should be no shortage of achievement and overachievement recognitions that find their way - in a timely manner - to the public's eye.

Psychological studies have shown that the pursuit of recognition, in and of itself, can make the difference in targeting that critical second twenty percent on the sales achievement ladder. Experts agree that successful sales teams find motivation in their own champions. Beatifying the sales leaders instills excitement and a definable hierarchy that beckons all players to become a part.

Another fact that is frequently overlooked is that recognition, whether part of an incentive or not, is the least expensive means of motivation. In many cases, it's free! Often, shaking the hand of the president in front of the company is all it takes to galvanize the need to overachieve.

The Bottom Line: Manufacturers and Distributors must take greater care when designing motivational incentive programs. Take a page out of the "Sales 101" book that says, "Find out what they want, then, give it to them!" But make sure to keep it simple, keep it clear, promote it properly, reward immediately, don't try to target everybody, and, recognize, recognize… RECOGNIZE!

Paul Shearstone is an international keynote speaker, author, sales-trainer and motivator. He specializes in 'Re-Arming' sales and marketing groups by re-defining their selling strategies with a focus on "Unique Propositional Selling" and "Solution Selling for Profitability!" Paul may be contacted through http://www.paulshearstone.com or emailed at paul@s150.com.

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