Can We Talk?

By Malcolm Fleschner

While some sales managers may not realize it, effective communication during an incentive program means more than dangling a $100 bill in front of a sales rep and saying, “Come on, you can do it!” For tips on using effective communication techniques to maximize a program’s return, spoke with Toni Dore, executive vice president of the incentive group for Spiegel Rewards.

First, she says, kick off a program that sets a tone for the entire contest.”We like to get our catalog in front of the salespeople when the program kicks off,” she explains. “Because then they know, ‘OK, here’s what I need to do to achieve the award’ and then they can look through the catalog and begin thinking about an item or several items and that can add a motivating boost.”

Beyond a big kickoff event, Dore advises sales managers to prepare a plan that will carry through the life of the program and take advantage of existing communication lines. “When you kick off a program, it may be a special event,” she says, “but ongoing communication about the program should continue through the normal channels. In those communiqués, you should reinforce the awards they can win and how close each individual is toward achieving their goal.”

Other special communications should occur at other stages in a contest, Dore adds. “At the two month period of a six-month contest, you might add a teaser to the communications piece. So if they’re using a stored value card perhaps give everyone a $25 credit on the card. It’s less than what they could win at the end of the contest, but it’s a teaser that continues the motivation. “Then at four months you could send out a reminder with a little tchotchke item that is tied to the theme of the program. So if the program’s theme is that everyone can achieve stardom, you might give them all a little chocolate star.”