Good incentives are like purple cows!

By John Sylvester, divisional director, Motivcom

What would you do if you saw a purple cow in a field full of black and white cows? Would you stop and take a second look? Would you tell your friends? Take a picture? Post it onto Facebook? Of course you would – you most certainly wouldn’t dismiss it and carry on about your day.

Now take a moment to think about how you get your team excited about the sales incentive you’ve just launched. What are the communications like that participants receive on a daily basis? Are they slightly drab and dull, failing to stand out in a field full of black and white noise received on a daily basis? Or will they make your team stop and take note?

Commooooonication is fundamental to a successful sales incentive
Pardon the pun, but I’ll bet it got your attention, and when promoting your sales incentive you’ll be sure to want your employees to stop and read the latest communication they’ve received…

  • Because you’ve spent that last day putting it together and don’t want that time and effort to go to waste.
  • More importantly, because it will no doubt contain valuable information that could/should educate sales teams on new products/services, inspire them to put in the extra effort needed to receive the rewards on offer and make brand ambassadors of each and every one of them.

But be realistic, unless it stops and grabs their attention straight away, it will probably be forgotten about. So it’s time for sales managers to focus on creating engaging communications materials that stand out from the crowd.

The first thing employees will read is the headline, whether it is the subject line of an email when it pops up in the corner of their screen, or the title of a direct mail piece, a blog or tweet – you’ll only have two or three seconds to make an IMPACT.

So how to you grab your audience’s attention in such a short space of time?
Make headers quick and to the point, make it punchy and make it exciting. A good sales incentive is designed to inspire, and therefore so should your comms. You are trying to encourage your employees to take part and make them aware that doing so is well worth their while. The first thing employees will ask is ‘what’s in it for me?’ so why not tell them up front and draw them in.

Rewarding those who stand out from the herd
What of the rewards you’re offering? Will they inspire extra effort? Will they motivate each individual to significantly improve their performance or just blend in with the rest of the herd?
The choice of reward presented should appeal to every individual in your team, as they no doubt each have their own particular colourful characteristics. Get employees involved in the rewards on offer from the outset using focus groups, surveys and by asking straight up, what would you prefer?

Cash is not the best motivator. Much as our friends the cows graze on green grass daily, any additional patch of lawn offered to them would look the same as any other. The same can be said of cash bonuses, as these are often lost amongst daily living expenses, removing any motivational value you might have thought they would contain. There are many alternatives:

  • Vouchers and gift cards are often thought of as a ‘lazy’ choice, but they give each individual the opportunity to redeem their reward in their favourite retailer and are far more likely to be utilised for something special, unlike cash.
  • Travel incentives remain ever popular, but are often more inspirational if the recipient can take their partner to a destination of their choosing. Or get employees to vote on the destination on offer at the start of the year, ensuring that everyone is involved from the outset and the most popular destination is the one up for grabs.
  • Experience days are sure to either get the blood pumping with an adrenaline fuelled adventure or soothe and unwind hard working recipients with relaxing spa treatments. Either way, they will make a lasting memory.
  • Merchandise can be made available throughout the length of your incentive, with differing values of goods on offer at particular times throughout the programme lifespan. By using a points-based banking system you can create tactical campaigns and incremental rewards to continually drive efforts and avoid any lull in interest.
  • Prepaid Cards are the latest innovation in sales incentive technology. They give Sales Managers a tool whereby they can load funds onto an individual’s card (distributed at the start of the scheme) as and when they achieve set targets. The recipient is then free to spend the load value anywhere they choose. Better than cash, prepaid cards deliver great brand recognition as they can be personalised to suit the employer, and remind the user that their efforts are appreciated every time they get used.

Whatever type of reward you think is right for your audience, be sure to confirm your suspicions before embarking on your next sales incentive. The last thing you want is employees disengaged with your scheme from the outset, so make sure the rewards on offer and the way you communicate their value stands out from the crowd.

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