How Have Sales Incentive Programs Changed for the Better?

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How Have Sales Incentive Programs Changed for the Better
The primary purpose and value of sales incentive programs have remained relatively constant since the beginning. These programs are used to encourage and reward more significant efforts aligned with sales and productivity goals.

But technology has changed HOW these programs run, the flexibility that can be offered within the program, the granularity options for unique offers for different regions and product categories, and much more.

To gain an appreciation for how far we have come, it is essential to understand that early programs run by outside resources were generally managed in a manual format. A "Launch Kit" was created that included paper forms to enroll, submit sales, a brochure that explained the rules of the program, and an Award Catalog with order sheets to redeem points. Once the program was launched, salespeople would submit paper forms with their sales information and, in most cases, attached documentation as proof of the sale. Then teams of data entry people would verify the accuracy of the sales data vs. the backup information, and if it all was matching, data entry into a program database.

From that, monthly statements would be created and mailed to the participants. There are other manual elements, but you get the idea that the programs were generally static once launched. And a final point, because of all of the manual work and printed material, program support was usually 20% to 25% of the total budget PLUS margin on awards that were typically 30% or more, PLUS shipping and tax. The high margins were a function of the format for redemption, which was a single warehouse with the inventoried product and with all of the overhead and associated carrying costs.

Flash forward to today. Now programs are designed and launched online, and different participant groups can have unique offers, data files replace enrollment and sales claims, programs can have adjustments by region, by product grouping and even adjust earning opportunities for the time of year to bonus higher earnings for tough sales seasons. That translates to a dramatic drop in administrative costs by almost eliminating manual paper processing.

On the award side, now selections can keep up with availability by sourcing directly from supply sources while still offering tracking and delivery information. In paper catalogs, after a program was in the field for six months or more, much of the electronics were no longer available, or it would keep offering an aging inventory that wasn't keeping up with market changes. But today, award selections are refreshed multiple times in the same day! No more "not available" disappointments. And by removing the need for owned warehouse inventory, the margin on awards can be significantly reduced.

But even with all of that, one of the most dramatic changes is that programs are now dialogs instead of monologues. Communication tools from corporate, and even down to direct managers, allow for an ongoing conversation between the company and the team that provides for motivational messages, reactions to changing market conditions, and most importantly, feedback and input from the team to management. The ability to keep the team focused on program goals provides the opportunity to significantly improve program performance both for management as well as for the participant, benefiting both.

Sales Incentive programs will continue to have a primary goal of enhancing and rewarding the performance of the sales team. Still, with new technology, a company can launch programs that better align with the realities in the marketplace and stay better connected with and more effectively reward the sales team that is at the heart of the program's success.

As you can see, technology and a shift in the way that merchandise and redemptions have changed over the years has created a tremendous opportunity to take your sales incentive programs to the next level, WITHOUT having to increase budgets. In fact, the overall cost to set up and run a program has gone down allowing a faster path to realizing ROI on these programs. At CoreCentive, we understand this, and we have led the way in introducing a transparent pricing model that is easily understandable and is tailored to your budget.

Contact us today for more information or request a demo.