The summer issue of SalesForceXP magazine has a series of items on how to create a salesforce incentive program that works. A three-item check list of do's and don'ts for people creating incentive programs caught my eye. The tips are:
1. "Some people like Yanni" by which the author means that different workers will value different prizes more highly. An incentive program that serves up a choice of rewards will probably be more effective than a program that offers everyone the same trip to Miami.
2. Travel works. Offering people an experience, the magazine says, is often better than a physical product. On top of that, the magazine recommends that you arrange for a star worker to have a unique experience while traveling—so you're on the hook for the trip to Maui PLUS the helicopter flight over the volcanos. I actually believe this. For years, a friend of mine ran a company that sold safari packages as an incentive program to a large corporation. He said that the company told him that some workers would actually turn down other job offers or delay retirement by a year simply because they thought they would qualify for the free safari.
3. "Don't drag it out." This is, in my opinion, the best tip. Basically, the idea is that workers lose interest in incentive programs if they yawn out over the course of six months or a year. Rolling three-month incentive programs are more effective in our short-attention span era than one long-term program, the magazine says.
What do you think? Does your company offer an incentive program? If so, what have you found has been the key to an incentive's success?
Last updated: Sep 6, 2006
MIKE HOFMAN was previously editor of Inc.com and a deputy editor at Inc. magazine, which he joined in 1996. The site was nominated for a National Magazine Award for Digital Media in 2010, and was named the best business website by Folio Magazine. In 2006, Hofman was part of a team of writers nominated for a Webby Award for best business blog. He lives in New York City. @mikehofman