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Effective Rewards And Incentives
The first place to start when developing an incentive program is to identify exactly what you want to accomplish. You canít just spend money and then hope you see results. Youíve got to have a game plan.
Youíve probably gotten a pretty solid feel for the personality types that formulate your team. Youíve probably also uncovered what your teamís strengths and weaknesses are. Based on where your team is at, you can start designing rewards and incentives to produce exactly what youíre striving for. When doing so, there are some general rules that are helpful to keep in mind.
First of all, always remember that what is considered a great reward can vary according to the individual and the particular circumstances. Many successful managers suggest mixing individual incentives with team rewards. This way, you are meeting individual needs while still fostering cooperation and maintaining attention on company goals. Incentives that are based on group performance also help salespeople become better team players and feel a sense of ownership in company goals. This way, they can feel some internal motivation and personal satisfaction in seeing the job done well instead of always depending on some external, temporary factor to motivate them.
Fair warning, however, that incentives often lead to a warning of the diminishing returns trap. What I mean by this is that a certain reward will lose its impact over time if it is used too much. That is, instead of feeling rewarded, people will come to expect the incentive as an automatic return for their efforts. The other side of this issue is that when the reward is taken away, the good behavior will also disappear. Motivation based on rewards is an external influence instead an internal one. It is worth pointing out here that the big, tangible rewards can definitely give your salespeople something to keep their eyes on the whole year long, but donít neglect the smaller incentives. Saying thank you, noticing a repís extra effort, helping a rep through a slump and just day-to-day acknowledgements can count big and will contribute to your teambuilding efforts just as much as huge year-end bonuses will.
With any great incentive program, you have to devote time to promoting it. Obviously, a big, year-long incentive program is going to flop if you only mention it one time. If you want an incentive program to produce maximum return, youíve got to promote it by giving your team members weekly updates, newsletter blurbs, short-term incentives, etc. Find ways to keep the momentum going to make sure the program pays off. Anything creative, fun or different that you can do will make your program more effective. Itís also very helpful if there is prominent visual reminder whereby the team can see the countdown to the programís end.
Below is an extensive list of reward ideas you can incorporate into your motivational efforts. Some can be applied short term, others long term. Some are team rewards; others can be adapted to individuals. Some will work great for your team; others will not. See what fits your teamís situation best. Often, it is just a matter of finding something fun that will break the tedium of the sales cycle. In terms of physical merchandise, remember that the value in the salespersonís eyes will be much more than the actual price tag. Cash disappears, but your customer will always remember that her/his laptop, TV or whatever it is came from your company.
Just a few more basic guidelines:
1) Be sure your salespeople understand whatís expected of them, whether any reward is given or not. It is not wise to reward a salesperson for bare-minimum work. Once base requirements are consistently being met, then you have a starting point from which you can set higher goals.
2) Make the incentive programís timeline is clear so everyone knows exactly when it starts and ends and exactly whatís required in the interim.
3) Establish the reward up front so people have a clear vision in their minds of what they are working toward. Remember that while cash is exciting, often other incentives can be more powerful. The actual dollar amount of an item and the value placed on that item by the recipient are two different things. If money were enough, why wouldnít a salesperson working on commission already be excited and motivated enough every day?
4) Whenever possible, use rewards that can be shared with friends or family. For example, such a reward could be a free dinner for two at a nice restaurant. If the rep can share the results of her/his efforts with others, the incentive will be more exciting and will drive them to do better.
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