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Use Sales Incentive Programs to Build Sales In The Channel

Any brand that wants to grow sales in their channel needs a strategy that includes building connection with retail sales associates.  Curiously, these folks are often compensated the least in many incentive programs and by extension, they become the most difficult to keep engaged and motivated.  Let’s have a look at how you can leverage this fact to the benefit of everyone involved.

How Are They Getting Paid Today?

In spite of the best-laid commission plans your retail partners may offer, waiting until the end of a quarter (even if it’s only 3 months away) to be paid out can feel like a lifetime for their RSAs and have a chilling effect on a sales team’s motivation. Think about it this way: if your quarter begins in January, it’s hard for sales reps to envision a payday of April 1st (especially if they live in the North East where the winters tend to drag!)  Further, many RSAs we do business with report that they rely on brand sales incentives such as spiffs for up to 80% of their income!  To reach these folks effectively, it is important to grasp these two aspects of the RSA’s reality.

We’ve found that the best way to ensure your partner RSAs never give up on a month/quarter is to use a short term rewards such as spiffs to help motivate them to consistently hit targets.  How would this work, you ask?

A Continuum of Engagement

One of the characteristics of the top-performing spiff programs our clients offer is where the spiff dollars get loaded onto a company-branded reloadable prepaid credit card multiple times per week.   This particular frequency of processing and payment fosters engagement in the channel by virtue of its ongoing provision of tangible and positive feedback on the RSA’s behavior. 

This was difficult to do in a pre-digital business environment and continues to be impossible for companies who are running purely paper-based incentives programs.

At its simplest, the leverage works like this: Susan has plans with her family for next weekend and she is aware that your brand offers a spiff program that pays out three times each week.  Susan therefore knows that if she hustles more of your brand’s product out the door this week, she has opportunity to enjoy almost immediate financial benefit, giving her the opportunity for an enhanced experience with her family on the weekend.  She is therefore most likely to want to sell the brand offering an incentive program with the above structure. 

It is very powerful for a brand to have ongoing association between effort and reward like this.

The Dominant Advantages Of Such A Program:

1. A measurable increase in top-line revenues.  More activity from the RSAs in your channel will translate into more orders and more sales for your brand.

2. Consistently engaged and motivated RSAs across many locations.  Sales people are motivated by money and the faster it comes, the more they are motivated to sell. Every time they use their reloadable card branded with your logo, they are going to be reminded of the extra dollars they get for creating consistent sales activity of your brand.

3. A better way for management to track top performers throughout the channel.  This part falls to the capabilities of your incentive management software.  Your software platform should allow you as management to track in real time who your top reps are at partner locations out in the channel. This allows you to see not only what programs work better across different regions, but also allows you to identify best practices to improve and allocate resources in areas where they will receive optimum results.  A useful baseline metric may be to determine what your incentives spend per retail transaction of a certain dollar value is.  As previously discussed in this column, it is useful to have a truly integrated and holistic view of this number by having visibility into all incentives programs connected to each transaction.

At the enterprise level, there is a great deal of focus on rewarding reps for how well they do against their goal.  This is true of most sales-driven organizations and so it only makes sense to extend this approach by rewarding all the way down the channel. A well-managed spiff program at retail will engage the channel and grow revenue for your brand.  It will also help your internal sales teams achieve their targets and mean far less stress for everyone come end of quarter.