Onions Devils and Incentive ProgramsI’m sure that most of you are familiar with the phrases “peeling back the onion” and “the devil is in the details” – either in those exact words or something similar. While some may regard those phrases as clichéd or overused, I think that they have valuable implications for the incentive industry.

To help understand those implications, let me provide some background, using recent developments in our business. We’ve recently had the good fortune to propose solutions for a number of significant and complex sales incentive opportunities. In so doing, we followed three important steps.

The first step in designing our proposed solution for each opportunity was to conduct multiple detailed discovery sessions with our potential clients. These discovery sessions were iterative, with each session building on information learned in a previous session. In other words, we and the client were peeling back the onion to reveal essential requirements and constraints.

The next step in each case was to create a flowchart of the proposed program operation. This had the dual benefit of:

  • demonstrating our understanding of the client’s program requirements, and
  • fully articulating the features and benefits of our proposed design.

Interestingly, in all cases, the examination of this flowchart by the client resulted in program clarifications and improvements – a further peeling of the onion.

Finally, once we and the client fully agreed upon the program design, we provided a detailed statement of work that outlined the proposed work effort to implement that design. This step ensured that the detail “devils” were exposed and illuminated before work was begun and resources employed.

Based on that history, here is what I submit are the key concepts embodied in our two now-familiar phrases.

  • Take the time and make the effort to fully understand the business situation under consideration. Whether you are the client or the incentive solution provider, there are no shortcuts to learning everything you need to know.
  • Outline the collective understanding of that situation and the proposed solution in clear and unambiguous terms.
  • Be honest and straightforward about what it will take to deliver the proposed solution, both in terms of time and money.

So, whatever your opinion of the phrases themselves, I encourage you to embrace their underlying meaning. And  I invite you to call us if we can help you do that.

At Quality Incentive Company, Rob is responsible for leading the company’s business development efforts in both the employee recognition and sales/channel arenas. He has more than 10 years of experience in the recognition and incentive industry, having served as president and CEO of Atlanta-based Loyaltyworks before joining QIC in 2011.

Leave a Reply