I saw the term “non-negotiables” on my Twitter feed today. The context was the current state of working in America has broken some of the things just a few months ago were “non-negotiable.” Working from home, applying for a job 2,000 miles away, new benefits related to time and family. HR departments are now looking into options that help employees navigate their entire lives… not just their 8-5 life. These things weren’t on the table a few years ago and in many cases were things people said would NEVER happen.

Well, necessity is the mother of invention. And here we are. 

FTR: I won’t say “new working model” or “new normal” because I’m convinced there is no normal anymore and forevermore. I think we’ll simply bounce from one business-rocking event to another – reinventing work style and protocols as issues/concerns arise. If COVID taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected, and the minute you think you know what to do, you won’t.

So, in the same breath when I say that non-negotiables are now up for negotiation, I will now list three non-negotiables that are in every program design I do. Yin meet Yang.

Non-Negotiable in the First – Promotion Training

Any program, initiative, structure, etc., provided to your audience (channel or sales team) will have a “training” element with a reward opportunity attached to it. I never launch a platform, program, spiff, or promotion without a short training session focused on when it runs, who is in it, why it is being conducted, how the audience can earn, what they can earn, etc. So many programs are launched and assume everyone gets it. They don’t. They are like you. They have a ton of stuff to read and a ton of stuff to do. And FYI – somewhat they have to do has nothing to do with your or your brand. Shocker – I know!

Non-Negotiable in the Second – Follow Up Quizzes

Once you onboard a participant and you have verifiable evidence they have some idea of how to earn awards in the incentive, it is time to do follow-up training “snacks” asking about the program rules and program inclusions. Remember, things can change in a program. The products/services being rewarded can change. The bonus levels might change. New award options may be introduced. Net-net, most of what you “tested” them on at the onset is different. Go communicate and test again. Use sweepstakes to reduce budget impact and increase attention to the “snacks.”

You MUST follow up. It’s what keeps your audience engaged.

Non-Negotiable in the Third

The last thing I always insist on in a program is communicating social proof of success. Sure – every program is great at reporting each individual’s performance, but few really show participants the big picture of what everyone is doing.

Your participants are disconnected. More so in today’s pandemic world. And, as we adapt to less 1:1 in real-life contact (which I do think will continue), more information and context are needed by your audience. They need to KNOW people are earning. They need to see those successes. Keeping your audience involved by sharing participation, earning, and reward statistics keep them interested and competing. Remember, lack of knowledge = bad news. #FACT.

I’ve seen many companies say they can’t share sales data – especially in highly competitive markets in channel programs. I agree. Many times, you can’t. However, you don’t have to share specific data linked to a company or person. You can share what percentage of the group is at what performance level. Or you can show the number of participants who are at 15% of their goal or 110% of their goal. Or how about sharing a graph of how many (or % of) people have sold over different levels of performance (not names – just counts).

Give the audience context. Let them know where they stand.

I know there are more than this, but these are the ones I will fall on my sword for. These make almost any program go to Level 11 – one more than all the other programs.