Our Chief Strategy Officer, Lincoln Smith, recently shared his insights on the value of sales and marketing alignment with the Rewards Recognition Network. If you want a successful incentive program, it’s crucial for both of these teams to be on board with your company’s goals. If not, your program won’t flourish the way it should.
Sales and marketing are the teams we tend to discuss most often when it comes to incentives– but what about the rest of your company? After all, your sales and marketing departments aren’t the only areas that play a role in shaping a program. Today, let’s take a look at how to get the rest of your company aligned along the goals and values of your incentive program.
What Do We Mean by Alignment?
Let’s go back to sales and marketing for a second. Say you want to run an incentive program for your channel partners. There’s a lot of communication that needs to happen between the different stakeholders within your organization. Consider these questions:
- Does your sales team understand the structure of the program well enough to be able to evangelize it to their customers?
- Even if they understand it, is your sales team invested enough that they’re motivated to share it with customers?
- Similarly, does your marketing team understand the goals and stakes of the program, or is this all a sales-side thing?
- Are you going to have appropriate marketing deliverables that aid your sales staff in communicating the program?
If your teams have solid communication along the program’s goals, then your answer to all of these should be “yes.” Both sales and marketing need to have a place at the table from the beginning of program design, all the way through to rollout. Both need to understand not only the structure of the program, but also how the program fits in with your business goals.
However, when it comes to alignment, you can (and should) consider teams beyond sales and marketing. In fact, pretty much everyone in your company should have a solid understanding of how your incentive program works, what goals you’re hoping to achieve with it, and how their individual departments can contribute to its success. Here’s a couple of examples…
IT: Moving Across the Tech Roadmap
If you’re looking to step up your digital integration in the near future, you’ve likely got some kind of tech roadmap in mind outlining your short- and long-term business goals. If you’ve got an incentive program, then you’ve already got a framework built out for encouraging preferred behaviors in your staff and channel partners. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Are my customers making use of my eCommerce initiatives?
- Are my sales and marketing teams keeping customers informed about these initiatives so that they know how and when to use them?
- How could my incentive program be used to build awareness of these initiatives?
- How could my IT team weave recognition into their initiatives?
Here’s an example. Let’s say your business offers dealer-locator software for your contractors. If you run an incentive program, you might consider how to incorporate elements of it into the software so that the program is integrated throughout the contractor’s buying experience. If you’re trying to encourage your contractors to use the software more than they currently are, you might offer special rewards to program participants for using it.
Your incentive program can be used to encourage tech-savvy behaviors, not only for your contractors but also for your sales team. Here are just a few behaviors you might encourage with your program:
- Communicating via text or direct message
- Utilizing an app, if you have one
- Emphasizing digital self-service resources
With all of this in mind, we should note that it’s important to walk before you run. This isn’t about asking your IT team to rocket you from current state to future state, it’s about using your incentive program to move your business incrementally down your tech roadmap.
Sales Ops: Get Your House in Order
The backbone of any incentive program—or any sales organization, really—is your operations team. In the data-centric world of the 21st century, pretty much every other team within your company relies on the information that your operations team collects and houses. Your sales team needs it to target areas for growth with their partners, marketing needs it in order to send more engaging and personalized communications, and IT needs it to continue improving your digital infrastructures.
You’ve probably heard variations on the “data is king” motto more times than you can count at this point, but it really is true. But it’s not just about collecting every bit of information you can. To be usable, the information has to be regularly cleaned and organized.
We’ve talked on this blog before about the value of using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, which helps centralize and organize the information your company collects on leads and buyer journeys. Getting your sales staff to adopt it can be difficult, however, since a lot of them may be used to their own individual strategies for gathering and keeping data.
This is where your incentive program comes in again. An incentive program is a great way to collect and centralize data on your program participants, since it’s all coming in through the same process, which then makes it easier for your different teams to utilize. It can also reward your sales team for using your CRM tool if adoption has been a sticking point for you.
Bottom line: just like your company as a whole, your incentive program needs good data to function properly. If your sales ops people aren’t well-informed on the data needs of your program, it’s not going to go well.
Incentive programs are useful tools for helping your business achieve a variety of goals around growth, education, loyalty, etc. But there are also a lot of different groups within your organization that have some level of input on the relative success of the program. Communication across these different groups—sales, marketing, IT, ops, and so on—is key.
It’s important to make sure that all of these teams are aware of what the other is doing with respect to the program and what they need, whether it’s about finally getting everyone to use your CRM or moving your company down your tech roadmap. Ultimately, it’s alignment across your company that will really make your program soar.