Top Three Questions to Ask When Designing a Sales Incentive Program

Sales incentive programs have the power to spark passion within your sales force. Especially in a competitive market, there is increased pressure on the sales team to go the extra mile. Recent studies show, successful incentive programs can motivate sales people to go above and beyond, boosting their performance anywhere from 25% to 44%. There is no one-size-fits-all program – a reason why there are so many different systems and approaches. But, successful incentive program design always begins with good questions. Start by asking these three key questions:

What is it that we are trying to achieve through this incentive program?

The goal of most sales incentive programs is to modify participant behavior to grow sales and keep sales reps engaged. Answering the questions below will help you better define your objectives:

Am I rewarding the right behaviors and performance indicators? Without understanding what needs to be rewarded to achieve the company’s overarching goal, it is very difficult to bring value to your program. This is an important conversation that you need to have with all stakeholders involved with the program. Incentives help modify sales rep behavior so using them in an efficient way is essential in achieving your sales revenue targets.

Have you established attainable goals and rewards to target your top, middle, average and under performers? There’s an adage that states the top 20% of your sales team generates 80% of sales. These top-tier employees tend to claim most of the praise and available rewards, leaving future top-tier producers hidden in the crowd and feeling unvalued. An effective incentive program also targets promotions to the next 20% tier of capable employees, laying the motivational groundwork for their entrance into a top-tier.

What is the overarching goal of my company? Am I targeting the right behaviors to achieve that goal?  If the goal of the program is to increase referral sales and that is not clearly targeted by the program, then the program is set up for failure. Referred customer usually have a longer tenure with a brand so promoting referrals can increase the number of loyal customers. The point of the incentive is to really understand the customer, cater to their needs, and provide the right solution. However, if you decide to reward all sales equally, then reps would sell at all costs because this is the rewarded behavior.

Do my desired performance objectives align with a worthy reward?

If the program is designed correctly it should produce results that optimize workflows and increase engagement. Clear rules for the program need to be set up and communicated with the participants. Below are a few questions that will help you better understand a successful program design.

Are the goals achievable? Is everyone getting a fair shot? Goals are supposed to be challenging but if the targets are set out too far, there is a loss in engagement over time. The goals should be set where everyone gets a fair shot at achieving them. The idea here is to drive more engagement and with more sales targets being achieved, sales growth will follow.

How motivating is my plan? If your program is structured to get sales reps to sell more than they currently do, you are motivating them. Remember, this includes all sales reps, not only the high performing ones. Also rewarding behaviors such as attaining additional trainings or certifications can go a long way in creating a company culture that rewards higher education.

Are my reward choices in line with what employees prefer? For an incentive program to work—for employees to be engaged—there must be a reward that has a high perceived trophy value and is appropriate for the desired goal. If the goal is to boost sales performance, a once in a lifetime travel opportunity reserved for the best-of-the-best remains one of the most powerful motivators. Through travel incentive opportunities, morale is boosted, productivity is heightened, and employees return from vacation re-energized and ready to make sales. Prepaid reward cards are another great reward solution. Prepaid reward cards provide the flexibility, freedom, choice, and all-around motivational power you need to drive success. Plus, with the convenience, variety and customization that prepaid cards offer, it’s easy to see why so many companies are choosing prepaid rewards for their corporate incentive programs.

Am I communicating program rules and updates clearly with my participants? It may seem obvious that communication is an important element in incentive programs, but far too often communication is the most overlooked piece of the puzzle. Even the most exciting, big budget program runs the risk of failure if your message is not articulated clearly, thoroughly and often to those you wish to reach.

What tools and processes are necessary to produce the desired result?

Am I using the best tools to monitor and run this program? One of the most important part of running a sales incentive program is having the right platform with the tools you need. Running sales incentive programs offline and through spreadsheets can be cumbersome, inefficient and costly. You need a nimble, web-based platform where participant and program interactions are recorded, analyzed, and utilized to enhance the program as well as the participant experience.

Is my platform simple enough for the participant to stay engaged? If your platform is too complicated for the rep to interact with, program participation will be lower than expected. This is a huge problem with a large number of incentive platforms, they are too complicated and don’t offer any real value to the participant.  In order to ensure high engagement levels, a simple, easy to use platform is key.

Do I have access to real time reporting? Are all the program interactions being recoded and reported to me? Metrics drive sales incentive success. Be sure you are gaining valuable insights into your program and your participants with intelligent reporting that tracks: participant enrollment, progress, claims, top performing products or locations, awards funded, redemption and more.

We hope these questions help you figure out how to build a successful sales incentive program, as it pertains to you.

To discover more about these programs and how they can boost your revenues click here to contact us. JNR is a proven single source for strategic partnerships and solutions, offering an experienced team of employees, progressive technologies, best industry practices, and a network of worldwide resources, which support our ever-evolving portfolio of unique, effective and memorable business solutions.

Written by: Shay Malhotra, Marketing Manager | Card Services & Technology Solutions

Four Ways to Motivate Employees (According to a Behavioral Psychologist)

The best leaders in the world are the ones most adept at motivating their employees to perform to the fullest extent of their abilities. Increased productivity, improved sales, reduced waste and optimized efficiency are all byproducts of a strong leadership group.

If you ask an employee what would inspire them to work harder and more diligently, their response would likely be something like “SHOW ME THE MONEY!” Offering a monetary raise and cash bonus is not always the most effective or possible solution for your company however. Strong coaching and even noncash incentives (like trips, merchandise or awards) can yield a greater return on investment, and therefore be a more effective use of resources.

Since writing a check is not always the appropriate solution for motivating employees, Susan Weinschenk (“The Brain Lady”) of Weinschenk Institute, LLC, a professional with a Ph.D in Psychology and over 30 years of experience as a behavioral psychologist decided to use her vast knowledge of the human brain to learn more about what really motivates people. She summarized her years of research and analysis into a simple and easily digestible guide titled “Four Ways to Motivate Employees.”

1. Give People Autonomy

Granting your employees autonomy, the ability to have freedom over their actions, is an excellent way to stimulate their desire to master a subject. It is logical that people who have control over their actions will strive to master their craft. Allowing employees to be independent goes hand in hand with increasing their autonomy and therefore makes them more productive. On the converse, people who feel that they have little to no control or autonomy will become apathetic and lose their desire to master a task.

2. Connect People as Part of a Team

If your team feels connected, they tend to be more motivated to work together. Gregory Walton, a professor at Stanford, studied the feelings associated with belonging to a group and its effect on behavior. In one study, he discovered a higher level of inspiration present when college students believed they shared a birthday with another student in the group. Even minimal connections with others, like a common day of birth, can lead to an increase in drive and pursuit of goals.

3. Know When to Reward

It is widely accepted that rewards are powerful tools for reinforcing desired behaviors. When and how often to administer these rewards may be the more important decision here. To establish a new behavior, Weinschenk recommends rewarding every time a preferred action is carried out. For example, an employer issues a popular retail gift card every time an employee reports a safety issue on a new form.

After the advocated behavior has been established, adjustment to the reward schedule is necessary. B.F. Skinner researched reward schedules in the 1950s and the findings are still relevant today. Skinner found that varying the reward schedule was the only way to sustain a desired behavior in the long run. Now that gift card is only awarded after three safety issues are reported, then after five and finally, after seven safety reports.. This variation of the reinforcement schedule allows the motivation level to remain high but prevents predictability. Lower incentive costs will also result due to the fact that fewer rewards are needed.

The type of reward and value further enforce behaviors. Rewards with monetary value can include: gift cards, merchandise, awards and travel. Non-financial incentives might include leaving work early, comp days and public recognition from management.

4. Give Appropriate Feedback

Praise can be used as a reward to sustain desired behavior, but will not always lead to a desire for mastery. Giving feedback without praise is a more appropriate way to promote this quest to be the best within an individual. Feedback can be largely positive, but should also pinpoint areas where improvement is needed. Logically an individual who is praised without constructive criticism may assume they do not need to improve.

Weinschenk took 30 years of learnings in behavioral psychology and identified knowing when to reward as one of the four most important ways to motivate employees. At JNR, we have dedicated our own 30 years to mastering the keys to employee motivation. This has resulted in a keen expertise of understanding the appropriate times to reward, type of rewards to utilize, ways to communicate reward programs and most cost-effective ways to administer rewards. Incentives utilized by JNR include: travel, reward cards and merchandise. Whether you are looking for the appropriate reward to reinforce small behaviors such as cleaning up the company kitchen or large endeavors like reaching multi-million dollar sales targets, we have the tools to ensure that all of your employees desire mastery of their craft.

Check out “8 Steps to Effectively Implement Employee Incentive Programs” here or send us an email at jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com today if you have any questions.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Kristopher Hewkin

American Manufacturing Reaches Highest Point in Over Two Years

The U.S. manufacturing industry is on the rebound according to a recent ISM report.

In an article in the Los Angeles Times, reporter Don Lee wrote:

“After slumping in the spring, a key measure of U.S. factory activity increased for the sixth straight month in November, reaching its highest level in 2 1/2 years.”

Dramatic gains in employment, new orders, and exports drove up the ISM manufacturing index, which rose nearly a full point from 56.4 in October to 57.3 in November – its highest point since April 2011.

This is all very encouraging news for the US economy – especially due to the fact that manufacturing was largely responsible for helping the economy recover after the Great Recession and job recovery of 2010.

Car makers and producers of furniture and food demonstrated some of the strongest results in the October report, and hiring and payroll at factories are expected to rise when the November report is published this Friday.

Optimizing the performance of new and experienced employees alike will be vital to harnessing these gains. Increasing levels of productivity, safety, and loyalty are the ways in which firms can achieve record profits and keep expenses low.

The companies that excel at incentivizing, motivating, rewarding and managing their talent and resources will reap the full benefits of this advantageous period in our nation’s economy.

Written by Kristopher Hewkin

Incentive Rewards and the Power of Choice

Choice is a powerful word.  Every day we make dozens, if not hundreds of choices. What drives us to make these choices?

Dr. William Glasser popularized the Study of Choice Theory, which is an explanation of human behavior in an attempt to meet one or more of the five basic human needs.  Abraham Maslow is a pioneer in the field of human needs and has created a simple pyramid to describe them.  The hierarchy of needs is a roadmap of the requirements of all human beings, beginning with the most basic needs of food and sleep, and moving up to the advanced self-actualized needs that involve the desire to grow as a person and fulfill one’s own potential.

Firms today are constantly faced with tough choices to compete in a crowded marketplace. While great products, wide selections, superior customer service, or low prices may act as the fuel that keeps a company moving forward, employees are the drivers that are as indispensable to an organization as a skilled driver is to auto racing.

Motivating and rewarding employees is crucial for managers to retain their most valuable assets.  Choosing the right incentive rewards, however, can often be a challenging task, as cash bonuses are a quick and easy solution, but rate low in results delivered.

Making the choice to provide employees with non-cash incentives, such as travel programs and reward cards fulfills the highest region of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Non-cash incentives satisfy the creative and spontaneous needs of employees that ordinary cash bonuses do not.  Using these incentive rewards will result in higher employee motivation, which is a priceless asset for any business.

For more information on the steps to creating a successful incentive program Click Here

Brandon Learish