Feature Article - March/April 2014

If You Build Itů

Find the Right Building Blocks for Your Business Case

By Brian Summerfield

When presenting a business case for a sales incentives program, it's important to keep the building blocks in mind: the idea, the goals, the numbers and the presentation. If your business case is strong in these areas, then the chances of getting your program approved are very good.

Sounds simple, right? Well, if that were all there was to it, this article could end right here. But despite this apparent simplicity, there's a great deal more that needs to considered as you craft a business plan in support of a new incentives program.

Let's take a closer look at the various elements you'll need to make a strong, persuasive argument.

The Idea

At the center of any business case is a new idea, a way to do things differently in order to achieve better results. "Think about what a business case is," said Mike Ryan, senior vice president of marketing & client strategy for Madison Performance Group. "It's literally the case that your idea might be better than other ideas. Executives are constantly weighing and wondering whether a new idea will help them grow the business. How do you show that your idea can create a desired improvement? You've got to answer that question in the presentation."

At the center of any business case is a new idea, a way to do things differently in order to achieve better results.

The Goals

In the enterprise of yesteryear, increased sales and profits were often enough to justify the rollout of a new incentives program. While they're still essential today, by themselves they might not be enough to persuade executives to back a new rewards initiative. Now, it's important to show that a program will encourage desired behaviors, improve employee engagement, impart new skills and accomplish other, "softer" objectives.

"Corporations worldwide are scrambling to find effective ways to attract and keep the best talent, but also to elevate their performance, productivity and service levels to new heights," said Michelle M. Smith, CPIM, CRP, vice president of business development at O.C. Tanner. "Embodied in this quest is the ability to align individual behaviors with strategic corporate objectives and, importantly, to motivate and reward those who meet or exceed those objectives. In today's economy, organizations must achieve maximum return on investment in their people to boost corporate performance and gain competitive advantage. It's what distinguishes and differentiates top performing companies from those that won't be around next year."