As a funny motivational speaker, I oftentimes wrap up a sales conference, which means that I have to sit through other presenters before I go on. At a recent sales meeting, the Director of Sales was the last speaker before me and he was going talk about teamwork and how important that is to the overall success of the company. After presenting some valuable information on how all the reps needed to work together as a team, he moved into speaking about the new sales incentive program and turned to a large flip chart and flipped the front page over. On this large chart was a picture of a race track and a bunch of horses. In place of the horses heads were pictures of the sales rep’s faces. Each horse was at different points on the track and the Director of Sales stated that each sales reps was responsible for hitting a specific goal and that depending on where the horse (sales rep) was on the track would determine who was closest to winning a cash prize.
My jaw hit the floor! Was this the same guy who just a moment ago talked about teamwork? You know, let’s all work together and help each other out… Well, any thoughts about teamwork flew out the proverbial window. (I mean when was the last time you saw a horse race where all the horses worked together?)
A sales incentive program, an employee incentive program or another incentive program for another group within your company, can either be productive or counter-productive. In my opinion, the race horse idea is definitely counter productive and is a good example of a close-ended incentive program. A close-ended incentive program has a specific number of winners and will leave the rest feeling demoralized. Many will give up or not even start the program, because they don’t feel that they could win.
An open-ended incentive program rewards everyone who reaches the goal, as well as everyone else who didn’t. The following are 6 steps that you can use to create an open-ended sales incentive program, employee incentive program or any incentive program for any group where you want a team approach to achieving a goal. I call it the 6 D’s:
1) Define the goal. What do you want to accomplish? (Make more sales, improve safety, heighten customer service?) Don’t make the goal to complicated and eliminate as many obstacles to success as possible.
2) Decide if the program should be set-up for individuals or groups. Groups always seem to work better; however, it depends on what the goal is and how many people will be participating
3) Determine the prize. Will it be cash, gifts, or how about a company wide event where all can attend and have fun and the winners receive something nice, but not “over the top?”
4) Develop a system of measurement. How will you measure involvement and any improvement? Is you sales incentive program just for a certain level of sales reps or is everyone involved? Does your employee incentive program just focus on one or two departments or is it company wide?
Make sure that everyone who is participating knows the rules ahead of time and that all agree the goal and the system of measurement is realistic. Allowing for participation in the overall decision process is not only effective for morale, but also insures that everyone is in agreement, before the program begins, that the goal is a valuable one, the rules are fair, and the prize is worthwhile.
5) Declare a start date. Let your team know that the incentive program will be starting about a week or two before the actual start date and get people excited about participating. This also gives participants time to develop ideas and strategies.
6) Dedicate your time to help everyone. Get other leaders at your company involved and have them provide encouragement to all and keep everyone motivated. Don’t make this a “you’re on your own approach” by those in the C-suite. Leaders are supposed to provide encouragement and guidance not stand back with their arms crossed waiting to see how the teams will perform. If it’s a sales incentive program then there needs to be more involvement from leaders in other departments. If it’s an employee incentive program, then all department heads need to be involved.
If everyone will be rewarded and the prizes for the actual winners are not to outrageous, not only will everyone have fun, but also the teams will know that no matter who actually “wins,” the goal will be reached, and that you, as well as others in the C-suite, have noticed what everyone has accomplished – and that all of you are grateful for their hard work and dedication to achieving the goal.
Sales incentive programs and employee incentive programs are a great way to achieve goals, but you have to not only be careful as to what program you choose, you also need to be mindful of how it will be perceived by those actually having to do the work. The 6 D’s, will help you create an open-ended incentive program that will allow you to achieve an important goal, as well as increase morale.
Any incentive program is about achieving goals in a fun way. Unlike horse racing where only one horse is the big winner, unless you want to foster negative competition and bad feelings when the program is over, leave the horse racing to the race horses and let everyone who participates in your program be a winner.
Showing a 10-12% increase in employee productivity is just one result that you can expect when you conduct an employee incentive program correctly. My funny motivational speaker testimonial will prove to you it can be done, as will my other funny keynote speaker videos for sales incentive programs.
©2011 Bob Garner. All Rights Reserved. You may use this article, but you must use my byline and author resource.