Get Online For Incentive Success

By Malcolm Fleschner

What’s the best way to deal with the ongoing hassles associated with running sales incentive programs? Sure, prayer is always an option, but for those interested in a more down-to-earth solution, turning over administration of your incentives to an online provider may be a viable option. So what should you look for from a prospective partner in the online incentive field? Selling Power posed this question to Chuck Schwartz, regional account manager for Hinda Incentives (www.hinda.com), who offered a number of thoughts on the subject.

“The most critical criteria include efficiency of communication with the audience at large,” he says. “A good online provider should offer a system that communicates, promotes, administers, rewards and reports – and does it all interactively with all the participants in the database. Also, another benefit to look for is the ability to control tactics that support and benefit the program’s marketing objectives. When programs perform at this high level of efficiency, cost becomes a nonissue.”

Schwartz adds that an online system also should reduce the share of resources allocated to program administration, allowing more budget dollars to go toward such components as communication, promotion, prelaunch and, of course, the rewards themselves.

“Administration is always a double-edged sword,” he says. “A higher investment in time should improve the quality of the information and allow you to deliver rewards in a more accurate and timely fashion. These are the benefits that make programs more credible to the people involved.”

Despite all the high-tech bells and whistles online incentives offer, Schwartz admits that turning a sales incentive program over to an online provider is not the best solution for every sales organization.

“Which sales forces will not see a benefit from an online solution? Companies that wouldn’t benefit,” says Schwartz, “include sales forces that don’t want to offer rewards with values equal to the risk or effort required to achieve them, and sales forces with complete control over their selling environment and the level of success they achieve. Others that would not benefit include those with unusually long sales cycles, exceptionally expensive products or mature channels and long-term people in the selling ranks.”