When you first launch a new partner incentives program, it may be easy to generate interest amongst them. After all, the novelty, the new challenge, and the chance to earn lucrative new rewards can be a powerful trifecta for creating enthusiasm among those selling your products.
In many cases, however, that initial interest can be hard to maintain over the course of a long-term promotion because it’s human nature to lose interest in tasks that are repetitive and/or predictable.
That said, the success of your promo is largely dependent on whether you can keep your partners performing at a high level throughout the entirety of the program. That’s why it’s important to create effective strategies for keeping them engaged and motivated.
“What science has already found is that positive emotions — how work and culture make employees feel — are at the root of human motivation,” notes leadership specialist Marcel Schwantes on Inc.com. “We are wired for it in our creation design. Therefore, managers must acquire the knowledge of what truly inspires loyal human beings to enthusiastically perform at a high level.”
As such, here are suggestions for staying top of mind with your partners at every stage of your promotions:
- Keep asking partners what they need to excel, whether that involves detailed info about your products, training in overcoming challenges, more sales collateral, better value propositions, etc. “You’d be surprised how often it is not asked,” says Schwantes. “Great leaders show an interest in their people’s jobs and career aspirations in order to motivate them the right way.” If you aren’t helping them sell more of your product, that means they’re selling more of your competitor’s.
- Provide continual feedback, updates and praise. Everyone needs positive feedback, from rookie salesmen just barely making their monthly goals to consistently high performers. Taking time to regularly and publicly call attention to your partners’ achievements can only pay off; one worldwide Gallup study found workers who receive regular recognition increase individual productivity and gain higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers.
- Focus on what’s been achieved to date. Putting too much emphasis on the finish line at the end of your promotion can discourage partners by making them feel the end is too far away. Instead, call attention to achievements via homepage widgets (leaderboards, progress meters, etc.) so that participants are reminded of what’s achievable. Another strategy might be breaking down a long-term promotion into more manageable smaller intervals that include attractive rewards at the ends. “During their daily toil, successful selling professionals experience ruts and rejections,” notes an article on Silverbulletselling.com. “Sales is not for the faint of heart. That’s why … pep talks are so important.”
- Be lightning-fast in bestowing rewards. Delayed gratification may cause enthusiasm to flag; instead, make sure those actively participating in your campaign are immediately rewarded so they don’t have to wait until the end.
- Step up communications. Now may be the time to boost the frequency of your communications plan, perhaps sending participants even more strategically worded emails and texts aimed at encouraging, informing and updating. You should also be answering their queries and questions immediately so they know you’re supporting their efforts and are still 100% behind the program.
- Maintain transparency. If your campaign isn’t going as planned and/or is facing unexpected challenges, share that information with your partners. Being open and honest will build credibility and trust among your partners, making them feel like part of your team.