Talk It Up

By Malcolm Fleschner

Trying to run a successful sales incentive contest without a well-thought-out communications strategy is like trying to place a call on a telephone that’s not plugged into the wall. Sure, you can talk all you want, but you’re not going to get the results you’re looking for. To help make your communications as effective as possible, Xceleration, the Atlanta-based sales incentive and employee recognition company, suggests the following steps.

1. Pre-launch your campaign.
Before you kick off your campaign, make sure you communicate with upper-level management about the program’s objectives and rules. You don’t want executives who haven’t signed off to undermine your program once it’s underway.

2. Announce key points.
From the onset you want to communicate three key points – the program’s criteria for each group of employees, the awards being offered and where people can go to get additional information about the contest. If you’re launching a program for a widely dispersed sales force, schedule a conference call to answer questions. One other tip: Plaster every office with posters reminding everyone that the contest is on.

3. Keep statistics updated.
Once the contest is up and running, the most frequently asked questions are: How am I doing? Where can I see the results? The more often you post updated statistics, the better. Also, keep up the chatter when it comes to reminders. Weekly emails, mentions during company conference calls and updates on the company Website are all great ways to get the word out on a regular basis.

4. Conduct a post-mortem.
Just because a program comes to a conclusion doesn’t mean your communication job is over. In the weeks after you hand out the rewards, make sure you send out a list of top performers to all your employees. Take full advantage of the opportunity to recognize their efforts in front of peers, management and executives.

Also, send out a post-program survey. Your objective is to find out what worked with your audience, and what didn’t, so you can make appropriate changes the next time around. Put together and send out a 10- to12-question survey asking participants what they thought of the program’s communications, criteria, structure, awards and results. You also can ask for suggestions for making improvements. You might be surprised by the amount and quality of feedback you receive.