— April 15, 2019
When structuring your channel incentives program, you may be uncertain how long promotions should last in order to get optimal results. Make it too long and the novelty may wear off so participants lose their drive to succeed. Make it too short and it could end abruptly just as participants are embracing it and working it to its full potential.
After evaluating all the potential variables in your program, your goal should be to implement a promotion that hits that golden mean: it’s long enough to take full advantage of the regular sales cycle of your product, but not so long that it loses momentum among sales reps. If you notice their earned rewards flagging over time, that could be a sign you’ve extended your program to the point participants are no longer motivated.
Of course, incentive promotions can be relatively low-risk (with some caveats!) because your largest investment goes toward sales that have already been achieved. But you’ll still want to design appropriately-timed promotions that have a set beginning and end point, and which work in your favor to instill a sense of excitement among participants.
Here are some tips for determining optimal intervals for your next channel incentive promotion.
1. Consider your typical sales cycle.
How much research, if any, do your customers tend to conduct before buying the product you’re trying to sell? How long does it take them to move all the way through your sales funnel? Make sure you leave reps enough time to fully engage with customers so they can close sales within your time frame.
2. Factor in your target audience.
Think about whether the time frame for your program aligns with the buying habits of your target customers. You may find, for example, that clients in certain income brackets decide on big-ticket purchases faster while others take longer to make those decisions. If you lack data on your audiences’ buying behaviors, today’s digital tools can help you find that information quickly and easily.
3. Consider seasonality.
Obviously, certain products will sell faster at certain times of the year. Unless you really need to move surplus inventory, for example, there’s no point in dragging out a snowblower promotion into spring or asking reps to continue selling swimming pools into fall. And if your products sell best during the holiday season—say, Black Friday through Christmas—get those incentive promotions in place by September or October to ensure your reps are trained and prepared for the big rush—and thus set themselves up for success during the busy times. Your bottom line will thank you for it.
4. Compare competitors’ programs.
If you’re trying to go head-to-head with another vendor, you may wish to appeal to your shared customer base earlier, come on stronger and/or run your program longer. A simple Google search on your competitors’ rewards, loyalty, or incentive programs can work wonders. For example, as a tire manufacturer, you can reference thorough articles on the subject like the one at Tire Review, which provides details on the dealer reward programs for many of the major tire companies. The internet can be a wondrous place when it comes to competitive research!
5. Look at the economic environment.
Outside factors limiting the success of your program could include anything from political events to climate changes to business mergers. Before setting time intervals for your program, look at current events and try to anticipate circumstances that could interfere. You may wish, for example, to run a quick promotion on a certain brand of fishing boat if you learn the manufacturer will soon go out of business.
Finally, remember the importance of delivering your rewards to participants quickly, regardless of how long your program is slated to last. “Any reward-value can become an unmotivated, anticlimactic activity if the time span between winning and getting is too long,” advises sales expert Paul Shearstone. “As a rule, the faster the reward is delivered, the greater the enthusiasm for the incentive program. Get them their stuff quickly.”