Rewarding the Process, Not Just the Results: 5 Overlooked Opportunities

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May 8, 2012

When I first wrote about The People-First Approach: Rewarding the Process Rather Than the Results a month ago, it created a stir among some HR professionals and business leaders.

The implication was that I was only advocating incentives that rewarded the sales process, and by doing so, disagreed with the idea of rewarding the end results. This couldn’t be further from the truth. As a resource provider of incentive travel awards, I believe in rewarding every part of the process AND the end results!

I was merely trying to point out that many companies only focus on rewarding the end result and fail to recognize other accomplishments that occur during the sales process. And many of those accomplishments can lead to amazing changes in behavior while creating better working relationships among employees.

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to qualify the process since it’s based on human interaction and not hard numbers on a worksheet. And sadly, what’s challenging is rarely rewarded.

5 important recognition opportunities

Here are examples of five (5) often overlooked recognition opportunities:

  1. Relationships. Regardless of whether a salesperson closes the deal, they can still establish solid relationships with prospective clients that, in turn, can lead to referrals, recommendations, or an invitation to return at a later time. Building strong relationships with prospective clients can lead to future sales, ongoing business development, and client retention when they do close the deal, so it’s worth recognizing this skill.
  2. Teamwork. Not every person related to a sale is actually out there selling. All kinds of support staff contribute to the sales process and as a result, make the salesperson look good while they are merely behind the scenes. So why is the salesperson the only one who receives the bonus or gets invited to attend the group incentive trip? Ignoring the people who helped along the way is a surefire way to make team players feel underappreciated and become resentful. Not to mention you may be overlooking hidden “stars” within your support staff.
  3. Effort. Not every new account brings in the kind of revenue that extremely large accounts do. So you may have one salesperson that brings in 10 small accounts while another salesman brings in one huge account that generates more revenue than the other 10 combined. Yet the reward often only goes to the one who brought in the most revenue, so all of the hard work of the salesperson who brought many new accounts often gets overlooked. The irony is that it takes just as much effort, if not more, to close many smaller accounts, and juggling multiple accounts is also time consuming, so there are two skills worth recognizing.
  4. Opening Doors. Sometimes a sales visit doesn’t lead to a sale for your particular department, but maybe it opens a door for someone in a different department of your company and leads to them making a sale. Recognizing and/or rewarding the person who opened the door in the first place can avoid feelings of resentment that their time and effort wasn’t appreciated.
  5. Loyalty. While most companies praise the salesperson who brings in new business, rarely do people get praised for having clients that stay year after year. There are a lot of people, including customer service reps, administrative assistants and account managers who work hard every day, often going the extra mile or two, just to keep those existing customers happy. Recognizing someone’s ability to retain clientele can encourage behavior changes that will benefit your entire organization.

These are just a few areas in which the process can be rewarded, but it is not an inclusive list by any means.

But it’s a good start – it shows that management is noticing everyone’s hard work, even if they aren’t the ones personally racking up the impressive sales numbers, and it shows that the company is more concerned with the way they do business than just getting business.