Objective Strategies

“If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know when you get there?”

This old adage points out one of the most common problems facing today’s sales-incentive contests: ill-defined goals. The experts at American Express Incentive Services say program objectives not only should support overall company goals, but also they should reflect the realities of a company’s unique marketplace, customers and target audience. Following are AEIS’s suggestions for setting the right goals for your incentive program:

1. Remember the “Three M’s”
– Meaningful. Your company’s goals need to be translated into meaningful performance objectives for each participant. Salespeople need to understand clearly what is expected of them.
– Measurable. Will you be able to measure the program’s qualitative and quantitative results? Is your source of information used to track performance reliable? If you have no means of measuring customer feedback, for example, don’t make improved customer satisfaction a program goal.
– Moveable. Goals must be challenging but realistic. Are you sure you and your participants agree that the bar is not set too high?

2. Don’t Try to Do It All
Focus your efforts on one or a few goals that are most important, and leave the rest to future programs. Try to accomplish too much with one program and you’ll wind up diluting your efforts and achieving none of your goals.

3. Look Beyond the Superficial
If you’re not getting the results you want or expect, try to figure out why. If, for example, salespeople have too little understanding of a specific product’s functionality, they may not be comfortable selling it. Instead of frustrating yourself and them by setting higher sales goals, perhaps you should make improving product knowledge one of your objectives.

4. Find Nuances
Does your industry follow predictable seasonal cycles or trends? Examine historical performance data like length of service vs. sales volume and geographic considerations to help build attainable goals and realistic performance objectives into your program.

5. One Cog In the Wheel
An incentive program is just one element in your greater sales and marketing strategy. A well-planned and executed incentive promotion can deliver phenomenal results, but it can’t make up for flaws in other aspects of your overall program. A product defect, insufficient training or haphazard support for customer concerns – no incentive program will save you from these fundamental shortcomings.

For more information visit www.aeis.com.