Regardless of which of our illustrious political candidates you are supporting, there seems to be quite a bit of uncertainty in the marketplace during this election year. This leads to longer sales cycles and diminished budgets for companies that are interested in taking a tentative step forward and launching sales incentive programs in these uncertain times.
While this can lead to some rather frustrating conversations, there are a handful of companies who are taking advantage of this lull to launch their sales incentive programs. Do you want to see something scary in writing? 2016 is 2/3 over. Wait. 2016 is 2/3 over? Yep. Many of the conversations I have been having with potential clients have turned their focus to 2017. However, there are a few companies that see the advantage of launching a program during this period of uncertainty and gobbling up some market share from their more tentative competitors.
Building Momentum for 2017
One company I am speaking with is a multi-step distributor who would like to influence counter sales representatives at their dealer retail locations where the primary focus is on influencing the contractor to purchase their product over like competitive products. After several conversations, they decided to focus their budget on incremental sales in 2017, so these counter sales representatives will earn a minimal amount on all of their sales until they pass their goal, which in this case is 2016 sales +10% before they start earning at a higher rate. The minimal amount is established to maintain interest with the participant base until they surpass the goal when the primary budget based on incremental sales kicks in.
So far, this is a pretty standard implementation of what we would recommend when designing a program. However, it soon became apparent that many of their competitors were holding back on similar sales incentive programs, so they have decided to have a soft launch of the program where any sales in the last quarter of 2016 will automatically qualify for an award, in this case 1 point for every dollar sold, in order to jump start the program and give all of the participants a little added incentive in 2016.
While this example is specific for a channel sales incentive program, there is no reason why a similar “soft launch” strategy could not work for other types of incentive and recognition programs that you may be contemplating for your company. Food for thought…