If your incentive program isn’t working, what do you do? You have a few options. You can restructure your program so it’s more efficient and easier to manage, or adjust your program objectives. Updating the behaviors you reward and how you reward them can make your program more relevant to company goals and, thus, more effective. But if you’ve tried all these things to no avail, maybe it’s not you: maybe it’s them (“them” being your incentive program provider). It could be time to break it off with the incentive company you work with. These are the top five indicators that it’s time to call it quits:

  1. The incentive rewards are…just all right.

    Your incentive program participants, especially those of Generations Y and Z, are very product-savvy and accustomed to being able to purchase just about anything they want online. Most of them probably have very specific tastes and brand loyalties. It’s no wonder the Incentive Research Foundation reported that 99% of incentive program participants have unique reward preferences.

    If the rewards you offer through your incentive company—be it an online rewards catalog with items purchased through digital points or a gift card rewards selection—aren’t diverse, it’s likely your incentive program will never have the impact it could have. A wide incentive rewards selection that’s varied in value range as well as product and brands, means you can motivate low-performers and middle majority. Studies show that investing motivating the middle majority has a much greater positive effect on your company than motivating top performers.

  2. Incentive program reporting and measurement tools are seriously lacking.

    Without tools to track your incentive program, it won’t succeed. And you won’t know it’s not succeeding, because you’re not tracking it! Your incentive company should be able to offer you easy-to-access, real-time, exportable reports on your program’s activity. Gathering data about your participants, engagement and reward fulfillment will help you identify successful incentive strategies and areas for improvement.

  3. The incentive technology can’t support today’s communication and data demands.

    Online incentive technology is an incredible convenience for both program participants and sponsors who manage the program. Your provider’s online incentive platform should take full advantage of this convenience, and then some. Here are some important benefits you could be missing out on by using lacking incentive technology:

    • Constant engagement through mobile availability

      The old “there’s an app for that” bit is no longer just a joke. Smartphone technology, texting and mobile apps are becoming increasingly important in improving professional and personal lives. Delivering an incentive program with mobile optimization, or through an incentive app, is one of the best ways to engage on-the-go participant groups such as sales reps, contractors, etc. You can bet that these people are already using smartphones and apps for a wide array of purposes. The ability to access your incentive program through their phones makes them that much more likely to stay active in the program.

    • A beefed-up customer database through integration with CRM or other business systems

      We’re right smack in the middle of the data-driven marketing age. There are tons of different tools and strategies out there for collecting customer data. But that data is useless to businesses if they don’t use it the right way.

      By integrating your incentive program with your customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning systems, you can gather customer data from incentive program activity and place that data where it’s most useful for you. An incentive company that doesn’t offer you integration technology is keeping you from a steady, managed flow of customer data.

  4. Incentive strategy support from account management leaves a lot to be desired.

    An incentive company that doesn’t offer you strategic support, best practice guidance and program benchmarks is failing you, plain and simple. If your incentive program provider doesn’t offer you this, get out now!

    The incentive company you work with should be a trusted adviser and partner—they’re the ones in the incentives industry, after all. They should have their fingers on the pulse of effective incentive strategies, able to not only give you useful, actionable expertise on successful incentive plans, but also interpret your incentive program data and analytics to measure progress and track ROI.

  5. Your incentive company doesn’t understand your industry or your unique pain points.

    What’s the first thing you think of when you read the words “reward program” or “loyalty program”? Probably something like Delta SkyMiles® or Starbucks® rewards. Many incentive companies focus on business-to-consumer (B2C) incentive strategies—delivering rewards to the customers who buy directly from you. But what if you go to market through a sales channel, selling to distributors, dealers, contractors, etc.? Many incentive companies have no experience developing incentive plans for complex business-to-business (B2B) customer loyalty and sales motivation demands.

    Your incentive program provider should be not just a commodity supplier, but a strategic partner in developing sales and marketing strategies that work. If you don’t feel that your incentive company understands your pain points or your unique position in your marketplace—if they keep trying to foist formulaic, one-size-fits all strategies on you—then it’s time to go your separate ways.

Life is too short and your business is too important to waste your time on an incentive provider who isn’t offering you the tools, technology and insights to achieve your objectives. If your incentive company can’t offer you all the advantages of an incentive plan, don’t be afraid to pull the plug on the partnership and look elsewhere!

<strong>About </strong>Steve Damerow

About Steve Damerow

Steve Damerow is the Founder of Incentive Solutions, an incentive program provider in Atlanta specializing in helping B2B companies increase distribution channel sales, establish customer loyalty and retention, and develop long-lasting channel partnerships.

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