How To Sell Online Incentives To Management

By Malcolm Fleschner

You may be convinced that an online incentive program will do wonders for your sales team’s motivation and drive increased sales, but unless the folks upstairs controlling the purse strings agree, you’ll never get the chance to prove it. Writing recently in HR Magazine, David Dermer, incentive program expert and president of the travel and merchandise incentive house HRR Inc. (www.myhrr.com), offered the following strategies for getting upper-level management buy-in for adopting an online incentive program.

1. Take a one-on-one approach. Don’t try to convince the entire management team at once. Your chances of success are much greater if you approach individual executives and handle the expected objections in one-on-one meetings.

2. Employ the power of information. The fact that you have a hunch that an online program will work won’t get you far with upper-level managers. Instead, come armed with quantifiable information culled from surveys, research and case studies. Also, don’t try the old argument: Everyone else is doing online programs, so we should too. There’s plenty of solid data available to help make your case. A few places to look include the Incentive Marketing Association (www.incentivemarketing.org), the Forum for People Performance and Management (www.performanceforum.org) and the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives (www.site-intl.org). Also look for industry-specific publications that may have conducted recent studies on incentive programs.

3. Find individual wins. Besides selling the bosses on why online incentives make sense for the organization as a whole, make your case for how taking programs online will help specific managers with their departments. Show the VP of sales and marketing how online programs eliminate many of the more common blunders that plague incentive contests. The VP will be interested to learn about communications tools such as email, messaging, quizzes and surveys that come packaged with online incentives. On the other hand, when talking to the CFO you will need to explain the online program’s significant cash flow benefits and the value of minimizing the so-called breakage factor of points that are never redeemed. The timing of this conversation is important – you will need to talk to the CFO long before the budget process is finalized.