Find Fulfillment

By Malcolm Fleschner

Is it possible to undermine a sales incentive contest after it’s over? Sure, just screw up the fulfillment, whether by failing to produce prizes in a timely manner, sending winners the wrong rewards, or delivering merchandise that fails to measure up to expectations of quality.

Despite the important role prize delivery plays in ensuring the successful close of an incentive contest, too many managers neglect to stay on top of the fulfillment process and wind up leaving their winners bitter and demotivated.

According to the experts at the Sales Marketing Network (SMN), managers have two basic fulfillment options: handle everything in-house or farm the job out to a third party firm. Why keep things in-house? For one, it’s typically cheaper, but it’s also a lot of work. If you have the staff, resources and systems in place to handle fulfillment in-house, go for it. Then again, if you slip up in your accounting and wind up ordering 20 DVD players but have only 10 winners, what’s your backup plan?

Instead, you may just opt to outsource the entire fulfillment job. In this case the company you hire will likely take orders by mail or telephone and handle warehousing and shipping the product, including taking care of any customer complaints. If this is the option you choose, SMN suggests you ask the following questions before hiring any type of fulfillment contractor:

1. How quickly can you turn things around? This means delivering merchandise, issuing reports and resolving complaints. Find out the company’s closure rate for resolving problems in a single call.

2. How long have you been in business? You want to be sure any bottlenecks or breakdowns in its tracking system have been eliminated before they take on your program.

3. Have you done this before? Try to find a contractor with experience handling your specific type of incentive or reward program, and you’ll be less likely to run into problems down the road.

4. What’s the price structure? Typically fulfillment houses will charge an administrative fee, include a profit margin with the cost of merchandise, or sometimes do both.