Secrets to meet Business Challenges:- We are sometimes asked if the trade challenges are worthwhile investment. Our answer is always a reserved “yes”. Why booked? Because all commercial challenges and incentives are not successful and do not necessarily improve the situation of the commercial, the company or the customers. This comes essentially from the reason why the company decided to launch a commercial challenge. In general, challenges are driven by habit, without them being part of a plan designed to support the overall business strategy of the company. Very often, the commercial challenges follow and resemble one another.
Secrets to Success | Business Challenges
Salespeople generally know very well what challenges they can win and where they are guaranteed to lose. And so they do not invest in all the challenges.
- The goal of a commercial challenge is to change behavior
The business challenges must be driven with a clear idea in mind: changing behaviors to achieve the desired goal. A commercial challenge must be designed to push salespeople to:
- Do something that salespeople did not do before
- Continue to do something they were already doing, on a larger scale
- Stop doing something they were already doing, it can be during a change of procedures for example.
In addition, it is important to understand how commercial challenges are seen by salespeople. Simply put, the challenge is to understand what motivates your salespeople as best you can. Top-performers tend to look at business challenges with two ideas in mind. First “Can I win this contest simply with my current results?” And more importantly,” Is the challenge designed in such a way that I cannot win? “. Often, and especially with very competitive people, the fear of losing is a motivating lever stronger than the benefits of a win. It is not uncommon to see top-performers “get out” of the challenge, or not get involved if they have little chance of winning. “If I do not play I cannot lose.” The sales people probably will not say it aloud, but they rationally decided it. The problem is that a commercial who does not commit himself will not change behavior.
Vendors who perform the least well can often have a similar state of mind. New or less successful salespeople will “get out” of the challenge or will not commit to it if they feel they have no chance of winning. If they do not necessarily share, with the top performers, this fear of losing, they nevertheless often confess to defeat against salesmen whom they see as sure winners, even before the start of the challenge. Again, there is no commitment and therefore no change in behavior.
Thus a badly done challenge risks us eliminating a large part of the top-performers and those with modest performances. This leaves the salespeople of the pack. Depending on the size of your sales force this group can be large enough to achieve the desired goal by your company, but it is a shame to deprive yourself of motivating the entire sales force.
- Design the challenge according to the objectives and animate it!
The first step is to decide what goal you want to achieve. In other words, “What is the purpose of this challenge? “ Secondly you must identify the behaviors that lead to this result. Think specifically about what they should start, continue doing or stop doing.
Once the necessary objectives and behaviors are identified, it is necessary to determine the details, i.e. the mechanics, the rules, the temporarily, the endowments, etc. In general, the rules should be easy to understand. Salespeople need to know exactly what they have to do to win. Once it is done, you must communicate all the details. Communication and animation are crucial to the success of your business challenge. It is not simply a question of communicating the details of the operation but also of explaining the reason and the goals of the challenge as well as what the challenge means for both the company and the participants.
The best way to check the understanding of the mechanics and the rules of the challenge is to ask your team to explain them back, or tell you what they need to do to win. If it is well done, as a commercial manager, you will have the opportunity to build an individualized plan for each sales person that specifically details what each one must do to win. These plans must include where they need to focus and the indicators they need to measure. It’s more effective than presenting the challenge and asking if there are any questions. If possible, when you announce the challenge have the prices with you. If the grand prize is a large flat screen show it at the beginning of the meeting. You can even leave the exhibit exposed for the duration of the challenge, for example next to the coffee machine.
Determine in advance which will follow and will update the results. The follow-up of the challenge and the updating of the results must be done as much as possible in real time. If tracking is complicated, test your systems and accuracy BEFORE you start the challenge, it will save you a lot of inconvenience later on.
- Engage your Salespeople and keep them Engaged
In a trade challenge the greatest danger is usually the lack of commitment. One solution may be to divide its sales force into levels, into performance groups. These levels can be based on seniority in the company, current customer logbook or sales. Use the criterion that will make the most sense and which will be the most accepted by all.
Let’s take an example. If you have a group of 20 sales you can put them in three groups based on average sales per month, this gives more opportunities to all to win. It is desirable in this case to provide three endowments: one for the top-performer of each group. Thus, newcomers compete with people of their level.
Another way to increase commitment is to structure goals intelligently. If you take the previous example, by doing three groups you can slightly vary the objectives according to the level groups.
Now let’s imagine, for example, the case of a business organization divided into three groups based on monthly sales. To make the right targets, let’s say that the best performing group must achieve a 15% increase in sales, while the least performing group must increase its sales by 25%. The idea is that an increase of 15% on 100 000 € is better than a 25% increase on 40 000 € of monthly sales.
Structure incentives operations so that everyone can win. A good way to do this is to design a business challenge where every step forward toward the desired goal immediately gives the trader extra income. A good communication plan for a business challenge must include what is called “WIIFM” in English: “what’s in it for me? (What do I have to win)? If your sales people are used to receiving premiums on their sales this should be easy. It can be as simple as “sell more to earn more”. Make sure that potential revenue increases are visible during the kick-off meeting.
Once the challenge is launched, the challenge is to maintain and build enthusiasm from beginning to end. Communicate the results of each regularly. Traditionally this communication is made via emails, in which is attached the Excel file of the results, or then via a static page from where one can download a file of result.
On Incentive, the first mobile motivation platform for sales representatives, the results are presented individually to each participant. A salesperson can see in real time his progress in relation to his objectives and his ranking, which can be individual or team. Seeing where are its peers compared to self in real-time is a very powerful motivational lever. Salespeople can see exactly how much effort they have to make before earning an endowment or moving to a new level of compensation.
In general, respect the rate of update of the results that you announced at the beginning of the challenge. Better to choose a slower pace but be able to hold it than the opposite. You will know that your challenge works if the publication of the results generates excitement and impatience! Publishing the results helps to regularly highlight individual performance. Without regular feedback you will not change behaviors.
In addition to publishing the results, you can organize group meetings around the challenge. This can be an opportunity for top-performers to share their strategies and “best-practices” during training sessions. Take advantage of it to re-emphasize the endowment, to make teasing.
- Successfully Complete the Commercial Challenge
When the challenge is over, distribute the prizes as quickly as possible. Preferably, awards are presented in person and in public in order to maximize its symbolic significance. Make the awards ceremony memorable, but do not allocate your entire budget. It is from day to day that you must concentrate your efforts, at the awards ceremony it is too late. Ideally the highest person in your administration should hand over the prizes and thank the winner (s). Do not forget to value all those who have made a good progress towards the goals, even if they have not won. A successful business challenge can have a very good role of coaching and setting goals, before, during and after the challenge. Enjoy!
Ask yourself the question of return on investment. How did the team, as a whole, perform against the set objectives? What were the monetary returns of the challenge in relation to its costs? Use what you have learned during each challenge to improve the following challenges. If something has worked particularly well, repeat it. Conversely, if something has failed in the challenge, do not lock yourself in error and try something else.
- A final Reflection on the Commercial Challenges: think of the Final Customer
During a commercial challenge, we often tend to neglect the end customer. Often we do not look at the challenge from the customer’s point of view at any time. It is easy to see the benefits of a challenge from the point of view of the company and the sales people, but if one does not take into account the customer aspect, a short-term gain could turn into a long-term loss.