By Malcolm Fleschner

As a sales manager, what is your number one asset? No, it’s not your supermodel good looks, nor that antique gold-plated thumbscrew you keep on your wall to terrify low performers. It’s your people, says Monterey, CA-based speaker and motivational expert John Boe. Unfortunately, he adds, too few sales managers understand how to use incentives to motivate that asset to generate peak production levels. To solve this problem, Boe offers the following eight-point plan for creating a highly successful sales incentive program.

1. You’re Getting Warmer

To motivate salespeople you must first locate and isolate their “hot buttons.” What are their interests, hobbies and recreational activities? Use this information as a foundation when you build the incentive.

2. Stash The Cash

Money is of course an effective motivator, but if it were the only carrot that worked, there would be no need for incentives in the first place.

3. Three’s The Charm

When you begin committing your program to paper, design it with three critical components in mind: it should be understandable, measurable and achievable. Without these three elements in place you risk running a program that is counterproductive and confusing.

4. Where’s The Beef?

Make sure that your incentive rewards results, not just activity.

5. Loosen Those Purse Strings

Make sure you adequately fund the program. If all the other elements are in place, your incentive should more than pay for itself with increased revenue. If you won’t spend the money, however, the program may fizzle before it can even get started.

6. I’m A Winner, You’re A Winner, She’s A Winner…

Just as in a golf tournament where awards are given out for best putt, longest drive and closest to the hole, the most effective programs also allow for multiple winners. Besides rewarding the individual with the highest sales production, consider other categories such as most improved production and market share growth.

7. Short Is Sweet

If you want interest to remain high throughout the contest, keep it short, preferably under 90 days.

8. Promote From Within

Launch the contest with some fanfare and elan, perhaps at a business luncheon. And promote the incentive frequently – you should trot out the actual prizes at every convenient opportunity. Then keep the excitement rolling by displaying or emailing everyone with the individual and team standings.