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Coronavirus Impact on Sales Incentives

COVID-19 has created unprecedented disruption, which requires a new look at the world of sales incentives. Social distancing, working from home, and meetings over video calls have changed the way companies look at keeping their sales reps motivated.

From our previous webinars with record-breaking attendance on incentive travel, meetings, and roadshows, it’s evident that there is a desire in the industry not only to understand what the “next normal” will look like but how we can start preparing for it now so programs can resume as soon as possible and remain impactful.

The Curve

To understand where the business world stands as far as recovery goes, take a look at the recovery curve overlayed with the performance of the S&P 500.

Fact: Wall St. is recovering faster than Main St. The smart money predicts a speedier recovery for US businesses. The green V-shaped bounce of the stock market is faster than pundits foresaw and provides optimism for the economy following quickly in Q3, Q4, & 2021’s Q1.

Now is the time to begin re-imagining the “next normal” – what a discontinuous shift looks like and implications for how the industry needs to reinvent the process of motivating sales teams.

The Goal

While the circumstances may have changed, the goal remains the same: pipeline generation.

covid-19 next normal sales incentive funnel pipeline generation

Keeping the sales pipeline active is top-of-mind and remains a priority for the majority of sales incentive programs. With so many companies recoiling from the events following coronavirus’s arrival, this has become extremely difficult. Spending is going down, and it’s becoming harder to reach decision-makers. Now is the time to get back to basics and cut the excess off programs to make the sales process more efficient and rewarding for everyone. Revamp sales incentive programs with these easy to remember rules of thumb.

1. Simple

First up on the list: remembering to simplify programs as much as possible. With added disruption and information overload, it’s become necessary to make incentive programs easy to understand and participate in. Leave the complex rules and qualifications out and just Keep ISuper Simple! The Incentive Research Foundation recently published a study on what top-performing companies do differently with their incentive programs, and surprisingly, simplifying programs was a major trend among the best of the best.

simple programs after covid-192. Speedy

The importance of quick implementation will be highlighted coming out of the shelter-in-place orders and quarantines. Using a prebuilt plug-and-play promotion, like the one below, helps reach different audience segments without having to curate a reward catalog for the whole team. Get in touch with Brightspot to learn about more of these plug-and-play promotions, and see if it’s a good fit for kicking your incentive program back up!

3. Symbolic

Being out of the office has made it harder for individuals to focus on work, and not being able to go out and blow off steam has not helped either. Using symbolic rewards that connect with the current situation and bring added value to participants’ lives are noticed and appreciated. Check out some of the example rewards below, or view the Awards Matrix for a better understanding of the pros and cons of each award type.

4. Short

Just as it’s important to implement programs quickly, it’s also imperative that spiffs are kept on a short timeline for the current climate. Now is not the time to get bogged down in the planning phase! Get the program moving and start rewarding participants quickly to pick up the slack of the last few months of pandemic slow down. Brightspot’s in-house incentive software platform, Ignite, helps accelerate the launch of a program and provides complete reporting and customization along the way.

covid-19 incentive program timeline5. Substitute

Keeping the “rainmakers” happy, the ones that go above and beyond is going to be another focus for program managers coming out of COVID-19. Those that worked hard to win big trips and outings that are now postponed need to be reminded of their accomplishment and their importance to the organization. The IRF released a disruption study on COVID-19 that emphasized the need to reward outstanding employees now more than ever!

6. Reach v. Exclusivity

There’s been an ongoing debate in the incentive industry for a long time about the importance of “reach” versus “exclusivity.” Being more exclusive by highlighting the best of the best has been a standard in the past, but after the IRF Top Performer Study, it’s now clear that reach is winning out over exclusivity. The top-performing companies focused more on extending their reach by offering smaller value prizes for all in addition to a few big-ticket items for the top winners.

 7. Power of Choice

One of the biggest trends in the last few years of incentive programs has been giving the participant the power to choose their reward. Providing an extensive catalog of award options allows every participant to choose what motivates them. Fulfillment and tracking are also incredibly simple when paired with an incentive software platform, like Ignite.

8. Creative Collateral

Constant bombardments of email and advertisements while sitting at home on the computer trying to get work done means it’s harder than ever to cut through the clutter. Put forth more effort into the creative collateral and communications piece of your program by designing some tactile pieces that can be mailed out, thus avoiding getting lost among the sea of junk in an email inbox.

9. Focus Behavior

Behavioral incentives will also see a rise in adoption, while sales cycles slow down. This is the perfect time to reward participants for continuing their education and acquiring certifications while the phone isn’t ringing, and decision-makers are slow to respond.

10. Virtual Trends

Virtual prepaid cards (redeemable anywhere) and e-gift cards to select stores have been trending upward for a while now for immediate satisfaction, especially for international participants, but now they’re booming!

You can view the full recording of the webinar, including the Q&A segment, below:

Michael Pisterzi

Author Michael Pisterzi

Marketing Manager | Tech-centric marketer with a dedication to relationship marketing in the incentives & events industry.

More posts by Michael Pisterzi