Widen Your Incentive Net

By Malcolm Fleschner

Does your organization’s idea of recognizing sales performance end at the sales office door? If so, you might be missing out on opportunities to motivate and encourage higher levels of performance from the team members who help grease the company’s selling wheels. So says Michelle Smith, VP of business development for O.C. Tanner, a Salt Lake City -based provider of strategic employee recognition solutions.

“A well-crafted sales incentive program should be inclusive of all the departments and stakeholders that contribute to the success – or the demise – of the program goals,” she says. “A significant, but often over-looked, step in designing a sales program is creating opportunities for everyone who participates in the sales process to engage in the program and have their contribution recognized.”

The proper way to view incentives, Smith says, is to think of sales as the culmination of contributions from a variety of people, not just the ones who actually close the deals.

“The incentive program should be broad enough to reward the attainment of quantifiable sales goals, but also the behaviors and activities that lead to sales success,” she explains. “There are many people who contribute to the sales process. They all should have the opportunity to achieve goals that are specific to their responsibilities within the scope of the contest. Why not reward the person who stuffed and mailed the most customer packets or went above and beyond to help a salesperson facilitate a client request?

“The key is recognizing behaviors and activities that reflect your program’s objectives. If one of the goals is superior customer service, reward behaviors that reflect that goal. If you find it difficult to quantify the goal, create specific activities that reflect the goal, such as respond to every client request in one business day.”

Smith cautions that rewarding nonsales staff needs to be approached systematically, however. Everyone participating in a contest deserves to know exactly what they’re expected to do, as well as what their reward will be for meeting those expectations.

“When implementing discretionary awards in the program,” she says, “it’s imperative that those behaviors and activities are as clearly defined as possible to avoid confusion or inconsistent award distribution. Engaging all the people responsible for the sales process increases the enthusiasm surrounding the program and your chances of successfully achieving your goals.”