Whether your top competitor sports one, or you’re part of a forward-thinking company culture looking to get ahead, building an incentive plan is on your list of priorities. But where do you begin?
The road to a successful incentive program is not considered easy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring a map! With our 25+ years of incentive experience here at Incentive Solutions, we’ve made an incentive plan guide to make sure you answer all the right questions. From narrowing down your objectives to identifying your unique target audience, this guide is the perfect way to get the wheels turning.
The S.M.A.R.T Steps to an Incentive Plan
Building your incentive plan requires a commitment to nine major steps with the foundation lying in your incentive program goals. As long as you remain S.M.A.R.T. about your incentive strategy approach, your likelihood for success will remain high. Let’s take a look at the breakdown of the acronym S.M.A.R.T.:
- Specific: Defining the what, why, and how, and never skimping on the specifics!
- Measurable: What data can you collect throughout the course of your incentive program to measure your goal achievement and prove success?
- Achievable: Find the delicate balance between championing company growth and setting a realistic standard.
- Results: How will your company benefit from achieving your goals?
- Timely: What is your program timeline, and how can you use it to create a sense of urgency?
9 Steps to the Ultimate Incentive Plan
With the S.M.A.R.T. guidelines under you belt, it’s time to dig into the nine steps outlined on our incentive plan worksheet.
Determine Program Objectives
As covered earlier, specificity is key! Like most B2B businesses, growth comes from an increase in sales, making the goal for your incentive program obvious, right? The reality is that there are a number of ways to increase sales. Are you looking to increase sales with existing customers through loyalty marketing? Or increase sales by gaining mindshare through product education for your dealers and contractors? The more specific you get, especially when enacting a new program, the better your chances for success.
Establish Your Budget
Determining your incentive program budget involves a number of factors, the greatest being your return on investment, or ROI. But how do you determine ROI before your incentive program has even been launched? With the help of our ROI calculator and some projected figures, your company can calculate the sales increase needed to achieve your desired ROI.
Target Your Audience
This is the “who” that your incentive plan will be built around. By determining the group that is most influential on the sale of your product, you can begin to design your program to specifically engage them. Utilize research of interests, skills and knowledge, and demographics to help shape your decisions.
For those who are unsure of their target audience, such as manufacturers who don’t deal directly with their dealers, contractors, or wholesalers, you can use your dealer incentive program to collect this information. With the help of incentive software, you can apply an open enrollment registration to acquire the information of the unknown customers selling your product, or utilize performance tracking for participants to submit claims, invoices, and warranty registrations.
Choose your Reward
At Incentive Solutions, we specialize in a variety of reward options. Depending on your target demographic, options include:
- Online merchandise rewards with millions of rewards that appeal to a wide audience.
- Gift cards to a variety of retailers and restaurants for a continued broad appeal that is more personal than cash.
- Reloadable debit cards with your company branding for a flexible, fast reward option.
- Incentive Travel to create once in a lifetime experiences for high-investment relationships
Identify Your KPIs
Key performance indicators are used to measure program effectiveness. They are divided into two categories:
- Leading Indicators: process-based measurements, or factors that effect the outcome. These will be used to make sure your program is on track to achieving its goal. Examples include enrollment and levels of participation in promotions.
- Lagging Indicators: results-based measurements, which are analyzed after an incentive program has been running for a specified period of time. Examples include increase in sales on a particular product or overall order quantity increase.
Customize with Technology & Tools
Incentive technology is the driving force behind ease in customer data collection, engagement, and overall ease of the reward experience. Our incentive software modules are pre-programmed to customize the design your program in alignment with your objectives.
For example, a business looking to integrate their incentive program with their current customer relationship management software for a more complete view of their client and customer behavior would benefit greatly from our CRM integration module.
Form a Marketing Plan
Marketing your program is another key component to its success. This involved communicating the value of your incentive program alongside training your participants to use it. Give participants clear goals, immediate re-enforcement, and progress tracking to increase excitement and participation.
A specified communication plan will also benefit the engagement and participation in your program. Our creative incentive marketing techniques are the basis of our communication packages, which include a standard, advanced, and fully customizable approach.
Manage Your Program
The preparation of your incentive plan is done- now it’s time to launch! Managing your incentive program requires an agile strategy, monitoring your KPIs and monthly reports to see where minor adjustments can be implemented. This is also an important time to receive feedback from your participants on how you can improve.
Analyze and Optimize
Your incentive program, no matter how well researched or organized, will be perfect. This is where data and analytics play a major role in your incentive plan. As time passes, your commitment to the growth of your program will often reflect positive changes and new technological advancements until your objectives have been completely achieved. Reach more about the lifecycle of an incentive program here.
For a More In-Depth Incentive Plan Analysis…
… make sure to check out our BthruB Incentive Program Playbook! This free e-book is the perfect companion to our incentive plan worksheet, supplementing each step with proven incentive program data, case studies, infographics, charts and more!
As always, our sales team is ready to help with any questions, offering free consultations as you start your incentive plan journey.
More Incentive Plan Resources
From sales incentive to employee engagement, check out our resources for information on all different types of incentive programs!
- Incentive Program FAQ
- 10 Steps to a Successful Employee Incentive Program
- Elements of Successful Sales Incentive Programs