What incentives have proven most effective in generating new equipment leads through technicians and customer service representatives? Would those corresponding incentives be based on submission of the lead, a subsequent formal quotation or an order?
– Dave LeMaster, vice president, Associated (Addison, IL)
Dave Griffith: I would only pay for a lead if it comes to an order. You need to make it to pay it. I am not a fan of these kinds of programs as they breed all kinds of issues. What I would rather see is all folks on some flavor of variable comp with the aim of promoting overall performance and cooperation. Our best branches spend time talking about the business and the opportunity. Out of good communication comes better performance which we will pay on to all employees. The challenge is to promote better communication and allocate time for this to occur in a quality fashion, both formal and informal.
John Maybury: We have been using an internal lead incentive plan, known as the Associate Lead Program, which recognizes the efforts of our qualified associates who identify new sales opportunities. The program gives our associates an opportunity to share a piece of the gross profit when they identify a sales lead that results in a product sale. In order to qualify for a lead bonus:
- The associate must complete an Associate Lead Submission Form and submit it to our Sales Support Team before contact is made with the customer by one of our account managers. Our sales manager will approve the sales lead after verifying that an account manager is not already working on the project.
- The lead must turn into a job within six months of receipt of the lead form.
Once the job has been completed, billed, paid and commissioned, the lead compensation is calculated. The amount of the associate’s lead bonus is based upon the job’s final gross profit.
In addition to receiving a portion of the profit of the sale, we’ve added another incentive for using the Associate Lead Program. At the end of each quarter, all the names of our associates who submitted approved leads during that quarter are entered into a drawing. The winner of the drawing wins a gift certificate to a store or restaurant of his/her choice. Even if an associate’s approved lead does not result in a sale, he/she is still eligible to win.
Greg Morrison: We have a program to pay technicians $25 for leads submitted that become orders within a 90 day time frame. We prefer our technicians to repair and our sales reps to sell. Working as a team is how we get winning results. It is a very common sight to see a sales rep and service tech having a quick cup of coffee in the morning discussing accounts, life or having a laugh together. Both want to see each other succeed with an end result of what’s best for the customer. In most cases, technicians are eager to share information and report their findings to the account rep without being compensated. It’s just part of our company culture. It would be unheard of if our sales reps did not acknowledge the team and give credit due to the team when an order is secured.
Duncan Murphy: We haven’t found many to be effective, but we’ve found that the programs keep service and sales talking, which is good. Mixing up the programs, individual rewards for a while and then team incentives can maintain interest. Whatever incentive plan you use, have the salesperson pay the recipient directly in cash and you will maximize the benefit.
Regarding the payment for the leads, pay for every lead, used or new, suspect or legit, with no questions asked other than a completed form by the lead giver. One payment per lead, no matter the quantity of units. This encourages activity. Pay an additional sum if an order is closed and pay for each unit sold. The ratio between the two could be as high as $10 per lead and $50 per sold unit, with Class III half as much.