Take the Fear and Mystery out of Spiffs

Ask yourself, are staying away from spiffs for fear they are too hard to administer? I’ve got some simple ideas to help make strategic use of spiffs to put focus and attention on the right solutions at the right times.

References to spiffs dates back to the mid 19th century—incentives for drapers and tailors and shoe salesmen. They have literally been in use for hundreds of years to motivate the right behaviors from salespeople.

So, with all we have learned from spiffs, why aren’t more organizations putting them to work on a regular basis? In our conversations with compensation managers, it often stems from fear that spiffs will be hard to administer and difficult to measure. Thus, they may have inconclusive or even unintended impact.

How do you simplify spiffs? Automation. The right technology can make them remarkably easy to create, manage and measure. Here are four reasons why automation takes the fear and mystery out of spiffs:

  1. Creation. The right technology makes spiff creation a snap. It’s as simple as drag-and-drop—grabbing the right product or solution, setting key parameters, and defining reporting. Rather than always start from scratch, compensation managers can use past spiffs as building blocks to iterate and create new and improved incentives.

  2. Timeframes. Manual processes are error prone, and we’ve seen many organizations fail to turn spiffs on and off at the right times. Thus, salespeople can be pushing products and solutions that aren’t immediate company priorities. Instead, set it and forget it. The right technology lets you preset timeframes, entering start and end dates to automatically initiate and end a program.

  3. Communications. The beauty of having preset spiffs—perhaps quarters in advance—is that your team can prepare proper communications. You can make bigger announcements and even recognize high achievers. And when you create buzz around spiffs and give your salespeople proper notice, you can absolutely impact sales cycles and results.

  4. Business Impact. Continuing the thread… how do you know you are impacting sales cycles and results? Your technology is automatically tracking the impact. For the individual salesperson, it automatically appears on their statement—no dispute necessary. And for the compensation manager, spiff outcomes are part of your dashboard and/or reporting rhythm.

When ineffectively managed, spiffs can distract salespeople from selling best practices and company priorities. But when spiffs are systematized, they have the power to supercharge a new product release, promote a complementary service or focus energy on a specific geography. Take this age-old practice and apply the latest automation for maximum impact.

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