We Have Liftoff

By Malcolm Fleschner

The kickoff for a new sales incentive program is supposed to be a bona fide event, a chance to juice up salespeople about their new opportunity to earn valuable merchandise or travel rewards. Unfortunately, at some companies these new programs are launched with all the fanfare and excitement of a state funeral. That’s because many sales organizations choose to focus more attention on other aspects of the program, such as execution and administration.

Looking for tips on how to do a kickoff right? A recent article in Motivation Strategies Magazine suggests the following expert advice for making your next incentive program launch a straight shot into the stratosphere.

1. Make spending it splendid. Most companies make the mistake of under budgeting the communications aspect of their sales incentive programs. It’s typical to spend 2% to 5% of a program’s budget on communications. That figure should be closer to 10% to 20%, however, when factoring in the kickoff meeting.

2. Pick your brains. Well before the launch, program facilitators and administrators should have a brainstorming session about budget, participant demographics and motivation. Another issue to consider is an inexpensive but appropriate contest-related giveaway – ballpoint pens, key rings, t-shirts – that can generate excitement at the kickoff without busting the budget wide open.

3. Go to the videotape. Nothing works better to capture immediate attention and generate interest in an incentive reward like a good visual. Open with a video preview of the destination or a segment demonstrating use of the merchandise you’re offering. If possible, get a tape of the company CEO addressing participants – ideally from the destination or with the merchandise.

4. Gain commitment. While you have participants assembled, take the opportunity to explain the program’s reward structure and the key strategic goals the program is intended to help the company achieve.

5. Track the field. Salespeople competing in contests like to be able to monitor their progress and see where they stand vis-à-vis their peers. At the kickoff, explain how their performance will be tracked and the reporting mechanisms you’ll be using. Let them know exactly what information will be made available and how they can access it.