There are literally hundreds of technologies and incentive providers in the marketplace but only a handful take advantage of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.  And only a few of those include recognition as a stand-alone capability even though it is the most powerful motivating factor.

Intrinsic motivation is made up of factors such as our sense of purpose, drive, belonging and satisfaction.  Extrinsic motivating factors include rewards, money, points and recognition.  What makes recognition so powerful is that it is an external factor that increases our sense of belonging, satisfaction and achievement – spurred by the release of dopamine and oxycontin in our brains.  Being recognized literally produces a biological boost! 

Channel incentive programs historically have focused almost exclusively on extrinsic motivating factors such points, cash, gift cards or travel.  This is largely due to the fact the incentive industry wants to sell you more points, gift cards and travel.  These extrinsic rewards have value as they are a form of recognition giving the recipient both a hit of dopamine and Oxy, but they often fall short of their potential.

Recently I spoke with an owner of a construction company who said every year they receive gift cards from a roofing materials manufacturer worth about $40,000, but have no idea why or what they are doing to receive the cards.  So they are receiving funds without recognition so they can’t even connect the behavior to the reward.  I am sure someone has a presentation showing all the incentive funds paid out to important clients and everyone feels like it is driving the results – when in fact the program is most likely consuming millions of dollars with no benefit. This might be an extreme example of complete incentive program failure, but it’s common for the emphasis to exist on channel incentive program administration (award distribution), and not the benefit. 

Other programs focus much more on balancing rewards and recognition.  Bob Chapman is the CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, a multi-billion dollar global manufacturing business with 11,000 employees.  He was recently named the #3 CEO in the world by Inc. Magazine and is very intentional about how he recognizes people.  One of my favorite examples is Bob recognizing people by giving them use of a high-performance sports car for a month.  As he explained the concept, the person being recognized gets to go back home in front of friends and family to explain why she or he is driving such an amazing car.  The person is being recognized by the company, but also by everyone that matters most in their life!

Great technology is important but so is knowing how to design a program and take advantage of that technology to deliver value ahead of the competition.  When looking at channel incentive partners it’s important to understand their approach and if they are focused on leveraging recognition as well as all the major factors that inspire value creating behavior:

  • Learning technology to provide the knowledge and skills to empower participants.
  • Awards and recognition to provide the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation that encourage action.
  • Advanced AI to provide the right prompts and cues to encourage the right actions at the right time.
  • Simplicity of design and experience to reduce the barriers to success

Contact us to learn more about recognition, micro-learning, real-time rewards and how we are helping companies transform their channel sales experience.