Sales Management Digest

Generate Enthusiasm for Your Sales Incentive Program
Malcolm Fleschner
"My salespeople have enough on their minds without having to be reminded regularly about our incentive contest."

This is absolutely the right attitude to take if you're a sales manager intent on running your incentive program into the ground. In fact, because salespeople already have so much to think about, they especially need to be updated, informed, and motivated throughout the duration of the contest, otherwise they're inclined to forget about your incentive program or ignore it altogether.

So how do savvy managers keep a sales-incentive program foremost in salespeople's minds? Here are a few tried and true strategies.

1. Mix it up.
Email and the Web are both great tools for sending motivational reminders and updating participants' performance levels as they strive for the goal. But don't rely too much on the virtual world. Old-fashioned snail mail still delivers a great impact, particularly when notes of encouragement are sent home.

2. Attend to the fine print.
Soon after the event's kickoff, make sure to send everyone information about the program's rules – and precisely how the desired behaviors will help participants inch ever closer to the carrot you've dangled in front of them. And please try to make the rules simple and easy to follow.

3. Be creative.
Whether you're sending out weekly email bulletins, biweekly reminders, or monthly leaderboard results, your goal is to make sure everyone's reading your messages. How do you do it? For one thing, don't get repetitive, sending the same cut-and-paste materials each time. Look for creative ways to stir motivational juices. If your program is an incentive trip, for example, consider sending luggage tags to participants' homes.

4. Fund the games.
Talk may be cheap, but effective incentive-program communication isn't. Experts say you should expect to spend from anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of your program's overall budget on communication pieces. Skimp on the communications side, and you run the very real risk of seeing even the best-planned program wither as your salespeople's attention and interest fade away.
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