Loyalty. Appreciation. Drive. These are key areas that strong sales managers talk about when working with their sales teams. Incentive programs can be incredibly motivating platforms to increase the overall sales performance of sales professionals.
While not new to the sales landscape, incentive programs have come a long way since employees were given free tickets to see a hockey game, a concert or lunch with the boss. More recently, with the help of the Internet, employee incentive programs have become the driving force for a lot of results-based industries.
Online programs can be effective business management tools that combine the power of the Internet with the motivating lure of rewards. They can be custom-designed to ensure that the incentives are appropriate and the merchandise offered is tempting enough to drive performance. Online programs are also more flexible and can be changed in a matter of minutes. The cost of developing an online incentive program starts at about $25,000, and experts agree that 50 or more employees are needed for the program to be viable.
Dennis Glavin, President of Elevator 5, a marketing and communications firm in Markham, Ontario, has seen the interest in employee incentive programs grow. His company has designed incentive programs for CIBC, The Cumis Group, Nabisco Brands, and Jamieson Vitamins. “Employee incentive programs are one of the most cost effective programs you can implement. With all of the cutbacks with marketing and advertising expenses in this economy, the only time a company has to pay out is when your sales team reaches a result that the company has set for them,” Glavin notes.
These online programs involve the creation of customized virtual catalogues that represent the company’s budget and mission. Merchandise, gift certificates, cash, travel and services are the most successful rewards that sales professionals redeem. “Merchandise prizing has stood the test of time, and electronics like televisions, laptops, gaming systems, iPods, and cameras are the most popular,” notes Glavin. Whether the employee redeems points for meeting or exceeding targets or is rewarded with moves for an online interactive game, items that enhance lifestyle are the most sought after employee rewards.
Quebec-based Vipass.ca allows companies to purchase a pass to mainstream gift cards or other rewards and have them emailed or mailed directly to employees in recognition of a job well done. Vipass certificates can inspire employees or act as a promotional tool for customers. Their list of vendors is impressive, and passes can be redeemed at stores like Chapters, Home Depot, LCBO, Best Buy, Petro-Canada, or even Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Any sized company can benefit from the corporate partnerships that Vipass.ca has established, and there is flexibility in the level of involvement, without the risk of signing up for a loyalty program that might be larger than a company’s needs.
The main goal with employee incentive programs is to motivate and increase the performance of staff. While gift cards are desirable incentives from an employee’s standpoint, corporations rarely offer discounts in bulk purchasing, so it costs the company a dollar for every dollar rewarded. Travel incentives, on the other hand, when positioned as a ‘dream escape’, can be more profitable as an incentive device as prices, especially in this marketplace, can be negotiated. What might be valued and promoted as a $1000 weekend for two really only costs $600 if the company offering online incentives buys in bulk.
Offering incentives to motivate and reward professionals who meet and exceed their targets is a management tool that has a proven track record. Their success lies in rewarding attainable benchmarks with appealing prizes. If a goal is simply too difficult to achieve, or if the reward is something like an alarm clock with the company’s logo emblazoned on top, your salespeople will simply not be inspired. However, when the reward is a weekend for two at a resort with a five-star dinner or a plasma screen television, you’ll see results.
The cost of administering a program is well worth it if your sales team brings in the business and results needed to win.
This article was originally published in CPSA’s Contact Magazine.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.