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In this article, I am going to outline the reason for creating a good incentive launch and some of the steps you need to follow to ensure it is successful.

It would be naïve to assume that, just because you ask sales people in your channel partners to promote a product that they will.

No matter how well you structure an incentive or how inspirational the rewards, none of this will matter if you cannot get the sale execs’ attention in the first place.

Interestingly, this is why most incentive campaigns fail.

Promoters assume that, just because the programme has been launched, that the sales team actually know about it. Post incentive research often reveals that the target sales people are either unaware of what was required or that the incentive even existed.

If your audience don’t understand what is required and what there is to gain for them, then all you will be doing is rewarding sales you would have received anyway.

Channel sales people are constantly bombarded, with different people vying for their attention and trying to get them to focus on different products or activity. We have found many individuals are receiving over 200 e-mail messages every day.  

These can include messages from: their employer, other vendors or even other departments in your own organisation.

An example of this was when I first consulted on Orange Telecom. There were 17 different departments blanket sending messages to everyone within their direct dealers at the same time – many over lapping similar messages and sending several per day. Multiply this by potentially 20 or more suppliers and you see the problem.

That is a huge amount of noise that you need to push through to get a channel sales person to see, process and commit to perform in your sales programme.

Whether it is a product or incentive launch, the higher you can throw it in their attention, the longer the curve. On this basis, if you want your incentive programme to be a success, you need to launch big and carry on to keep momentum – an email and a powerpoint attachment is never going to be enough.

Remember – if you don’t value your programme then why would your sales partners?

Case Study Orange Telecom

Orange had conducted some research that showed that on average, customers saved £20 per month compared to customers on competitor networks and wanted to get retail sales teams talking about it when customers visited.

The staff in these retailers are typically young, low paid, not hugely extrovert (they have chosen to work in a tech industry) and therefore a little reticent to push sales messages.

This can be even more awkward as many of the retailers involved are not happy to offer a brand based sales incentive, as they like to be seen to be offering best advice.

We wanted a fun message that focused the retail staff on the money and £20 message so designed around the Abba song Money, Money, Money.

We started with a series of teasers including a cardboard record postcard stating to look out for how they could get their share of thousands of pounds and culminating with a launch pack.

The launch pack contained point of sale, £20 badges and a launch leaflet detailing why customers typically saved £20 and the key areas that this arose from and how the retail staff could get involved.

The premise was that over the following weeks, mystery shoppers would be visiting their store and – if they were wearing their badges, the mystery shopper would approach them and ask them how Orange’s approach differed on a key area.

If staff answered correctly, they would be awarded a giant cheque instantly (and the money) that was photographed and uploaded. They would be told that other mystery shoppers would be back soon with more opportunities to win.

On the first day, we hired a leading tribute band Bjorn Again to tour around a number of stores and act as mystery customers in a ridiculous branded Limo and even threw an impromptu concert in a Carphone Warehouse store. This gave us huge opportunities to promote the launch both in trade media and on-line.

What were the key launch elements you should take from this?

  • The entire programme was designed to appeal to the audience – not as a simple re hash of corporate id and sales messages but as behaviours they could quickly and enjoyably enjoy
  • It was fun so people wanted to take part
  • We really invested in the launch so that for a prolonged period, the channel saw there was something exciting happening and they needed to be part of it
  • They were provided with high quality, well designed materials that were permanent, relevant and of long term benefit to the member of staff (product sales messages)
  • Opportunities for everyone to get involved and receive recognition and reward throughout the programme

If you need some ideas on how to launch and run a successful incentive, why not arrange a free 15 minute consultancy call where I can talk through some of your key issues?

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Tim Peniston-Bird