In the past couple of years we’ve learned that the Internet may not be the ideal platform for selling pet supplies, toys or a variety of consumer goods. But the high profile failures of pets.com, etoys and other victims of the burst cyber bubble should not scare sales organizations away from harnessing the Web’s power to improve and streamline sales incentive programs.
Today there are dozens of online providers eager to take many of the burdensome and time-consuming aspects of creating and running incentive programs off of sales managers’ hands. Mark Sullivan, VP of sales with SalesDriver (www.salesdriver.com), spoke with SellingPower.com and identified a variety of compelling reasons for spinning your incentive program onto the Web.
The first, he says, is rapid program deployment. Unlike traditional programs with their lengthy ramp-up times, online programs can be up and running remarkably fast.
“Online incentives give you the ability to respond quickly to market conditions and to build programs in days, not months,” he explains. “It also gives you the ability to change a program already running to respond to changing market conditions.”
Communication is another key area where a Web-based program has it all over traditional methods. By automating the process with customized messages, an online program frees up the manager’s time for other, more pressing, matters. Plus, says Sullivan, the communication is nearly instantaneous.
“An online program gives you the ability to communicate with participants at any time,” he says. “You don’t need to wait for something to arrive in the mail or by fax. Communication is key to keeping participants engaged and focused on objectives. It’s also key to providing critical data like spec sheets, pricing information and competitive data to participants.”
Of course, part of the fun for participants in an incentive contest is monitoring their progress and seeing where they stand compared to their fellow team members. Here also, Sullivan says, the online solution shines over other options.
“Keeping participants informed of their results and motivated to achieve established goals is critical,” he says. “Online scoreboards provide a level of accountability that helps build a high-performance culture. Plus, with program information available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, participants can check their status and stay focused in the office, at home or on the road.”
Finally, Sullivan adds, online solutions make sense both from a strict business standpoint and for more human reasons.
“I can’t speak for others,” he says, “but I know that our programs allow managers to spend the majority of their budget on participant rewards versus infrastructure to support the program. Plus, it’s just a fun, innovative way to run a program.”