Get Behind That New Partnership

By Malcolm Fleschner

Lead sharing can be a terrific and productive idea, whether between individual salespeople or large organizations offering complementary products or services. In fact, companies often announce the launching of major business development relationships with great fanfare. Despite the initial enthusiasm, however, many of these partnerships wind up withering on the vine, never realizing their much ballyhooed potential.

This breakdown, say the incentive experts at SalesDriver (, is often caused by insufficient motivation among the front line salespeople. With traditional business deals, an elaborate apparatus for follow up exists among everyone from accounts payable to the shipping department. But business development relationships typically have no attendant infrastructure, and implementation is left to whoever chooses to pick up the ball and run with it. Too often, the ball just sits there instead, slowly deflating.

A better approach, say the folks at SalesDriver, is to inaugurate a new business development relationship with a corresponding incentive program designed to “grease the wheels” by offering a path for success to the sales team. They suggest the following four principles that will be particularly effective when combined with such new partnerships:

1. Nice and easy
Keep things simple. Offer rewards for leads rather than signed deals. By focusing on leads, you will drive the behaviors that eventually lead to sales. Plus, your team members will appreciate the more immediate rewards they receive for leads as opposed to the longer cycle times associated with most deals.

2. Hop to it
Time is of the essence. Rather than poring over rules and drawing out elaborate, complicated structures, bang out the contest quickly and roll it out. The excitement of the new business development deal should carry over to the incentive program.

3. Who’s zoomin’ who?
Salespeople love to go head to head, so be sure to make this a competitive program among different sales groups. Use the competitive aspect to generate fun, excitement and drive communication between the sales teams as well.

4. Opt for options
Include plenty of different choices among the rewards. Offering some tired, unimaginative or cheap prize is not going to drive leads the way you want. Provide a wide enough range of incentives that you can’t help but stir the motivational juices in every one of your team members.