The Lure of Incentives While travel awards are almost always used for the highest level of sales performers, motivating the middle 60% of the sales force is the key to an organization's success. Especially through a points-based recognition program – where reps can redeem points for electronics (the most popular category), jewelry, sporting goods, home goods, and other items with brand-name cache – companies can do well in a slow economy by progressively rewarding reps' incremental improvements.
To wit: If a rep rang up $100,000 in revenue in Q4 last year, hitting that number in Q4 this year earns 200 points; 10% above the number earns 300 points, while 20% above the number earns 500 points. And remember that the top 20% of your sales force is eligible for these awards too. So using product to drive monthly or quarterly goals will even boost their performance.
In fact, incentive programs can be structured to change behaviors that will lead to revenue in future quarters, too. Getting sales or customer service reps to increase their engagement with clients and prospects will help fill the sales pipeline – even as sales reps tap into that pipeline near the end of a quarter in order to qualify for incentive-award points.
Takeaway Tip: Motivating the middle 60% of the sales force is the key to an organization’s success, so think outside rewarding just the superstars.
Take a Trip
A Society of Incentive and Travel Executives survey showed that incentive programs can boost individual employee performance by 27% and team performance by 45%. As we mentioned, superstar employees are often rewarded with travel, and if that's the route you want to go for your top performers, you aren't alone.
Global performance improvement company Grass Roots notes that a high percentage of its clients are incorporating travel incentive programs into their employee rewards plans and the firm predicts incentive travel to grow throughout the year.
"When a sales incentive runs for several weeks or months, the buildup generated by teasers about the destination through an ongoing communication program can play a huge part in motivation to achieve targets, as can the brag factor of wanting to be able tell friends and colleagues about a place they have not visited before," Kathryn Hulse, communications consultant for Grass Roots, told Travel Daily News.
Of course, you can play an integral part in these teaser packages by offering your employess pre-trip gifts, such as passport holders, luggage tags and other items that would be useful and create excitement about the destination. Once they arrive, have room gifts, such as T-shirts, caps, beach towels and sunscreen, all imprinted with "President's Club 2011" or whatever the event happens to be.
Besides the engagement and goodwill wellness programs foster, they also serve to lower insurance premiums, sick time and medical costs at a moment when employer-sponsored health plans face legislative uncertainty.
One firm recently built a program where people earned even more points for placing step counters on their sneakers to verify that they were exercising as much as they reported they were. The program was turned into a game of mild espionage, where one "mole" was planted among each team of program participants to verify claims of increased exercise, decreased smoking, etc. Anyone who could positively identify the mole received additional points, and a new mole was chosen to keep the game going. It pushed people to tell the truth, but in a fun way.
"Seventy percent of firms say they have a wellness program, but too many don't get it right or make a half-hearted attempt," says one distributor rep. "They have a gym; they hold a biggest loser competition; they're in a volleyball league; they have a walking club at lunchtime. Those are good, but a true program requires constant communication plus incentives on the back end. You won't get everyone involved, but if you get even one quarter of your people to be active in it, you'll see cost savings and improved morale."
One idea that works is using wellness teams in which people can earn reward points for being active. To keep track, the firm monitors event sign-in sheets and online participation in lessons and quizzes about specific ailments. The program regularly doles out unannounced points as a bonus. Unannounced rewards can also make a strong impression. For instance, Ford recently ran a program for its Explorer line – buyers received collapsible chairs that fit perfectly into the SUV's storage compartment. The best part: The branded chairs arrived at buyer's homes a few weeks after the purchase, extending the excitement period for new owners.
Takeaway Tip: Wellness programs are a prime opportunity for incentives. Similar to safety programs, besides the engagement and goodwill such programs can foster, they also serve to lower insurance premiums, sick time and medical costs at a moment when employer-sponsored health plans face legislative uncertainty.
When executives of the Seattle arm of Comcast, the cable-communications giant, wanted to cut the company's insurance premiums and medical costs by reducing the number of injuries among its field workers, they turned to a local distributor to create a super-successful safety program for the operation's 700 outside employees.
At the outset, Comcast didn't have a program concept in mind. They simply wanted to keep their people more focused on safety by rewarding them for keeping hardhats on, wearing their boots, following rules for working with cable and electric, and more. The first move of the program involved personal and specific products that employees chose themselves.
The online points-based program that was created rewarded individuals and teams alike after spot checks plus random calls to customers (who earned a free movie). Consisting mostly of items between $5 and $25, the program was diverse, offering items like flashlights, picnic packs, personalized pen sets and watch sets.
The program's results came rapidly. Just two months into the program, safety incidents fell to 17 from 54 versus the same period one year prior. What the program unquestionably saved was money: The number of incidents over the full year was low enough that the firm paid $125,000 less in insurance premiums, and saw many fewer sick days used. Total cost of the items redeemed in the incentive program: $65,000.
Takeaway Tip: Incentives don't have to be super-expensive. This safety awards program which included items from $5-$25, resulted in a decrease in safety incidents from 54 to 17 during the same period; $125,000 less paid in insurance premiums and the cost of items redeemed was $65,000.
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Bank Snags Tweens With Backpack
These days, attracting any new business can be tough, let alone business from tweens, who tend to stash any money they haven’t spent yet in their desk drawers.
Still, one credit union that a distributor was working with wanted to try tween client development. The way to do that would likely center on finding the ideal promotional product with which to attract tweens looking to open a savings account, and also draw in their parents.
Rather than a T-shirt, the distributor suggested using a wearable accessory – in this case, an Ogio backpack with an iTunes gift card slipped inside. The multi-pocket backpack with a blue cassette pattern printed on it would be hipper, more desirable and more user-friendly for tweens. The backpacks came in the colors of the credit union’s logo.
The credit union execs agreed with the distributor’s suggestion, and they also agreed not to put their logo on the bag – a potentially less valuable promotional move, but, with a tween audience that’s possibly less keen to carry a bag with a bank’s name on it, the move made sense. The young recipients could always talk about the bag and where they got it. And, the thinking went, if they were more likely to wear it sans logo, it would be a better branding move in the long run.
All 400 backpacks were given away almost immediately during the promotion, and it was so successful they did a reorder for another 50.
Want to Build a Buzz?
ALL-IN-ONE's brand new Buzz products feature Microfiber pad for cleaning screens of smartphones, laptops, iPhones + iPads! BuzzBrush® has a brush to clean keyboards, or choose the handy BuzzWrite® Pen! USB BuzzDrive® is coming in early October! From ALL-IN-ONE® • asi/34256.
Meetings & Incentives Planning on taking your top-selling reps to a luxurious location to thank them for their hard work? Make sure you pump up your special event with spectacular promo products.
SOFT TOUCH Announce an incentive trip by handing out this leather luggage tag/spotter and passport jacket at your company meeting. asi/79530
WHEEL OF FORTUNE Staff traveling to a meeting or incentive trip will appreciate this wheeled duffel bag with a convenient zippered main compartment. It features a retractable handle and comfortable handle wrap. asi/46420
SHOW SOME SUPPORT Offer traveling staff a bit of luxury and comfort with this neck support pillow. It packs conveniently into a case for easy storage. asi/63698
LIVE IN LUXURY For an extra-special touch for incentive trip winners, place this plush kimono robe in their hotel room. This robe is made of soft terry velour and comes in white, black, dark green, tan and navy. Slippers also available. asi/90912
KEEP TRACK Staff members attending off-site meetings will find this eco-friendly spiral-bound notebook with pen a handy item for jotting down important information. asi/57956
HYDRATE Make sure you have plenty of bottled water on hand for those brainstorming meetings. This 16.9-ounce bottle is available with a custom label. Employees will appreciate the thoughtful gesture. asi/95385
National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month
December is a time for holiday parties, which include lots of food, merriment and drinking – sometimes too much. That is why it's important to keep those who've overindulged from driving. One way to do this is to run a month-long promotion that centers on love, as in, "We love you too much to lose you." Be responsible at the holiday parties you hold for clients, vendors and employees. Offer alternate beverages and monitor everyone's intake of alcohol. Appropriate products to carry this message include keytags, tote bags and cell phone accessories. Your distributor can help you with all the details.
9 National Salesperson Day
Let’s hear it for the people out in the trenches. Sales reps come in two forms – those who sell for you and those you buy from. Today is the day to recognize them for their efforts. Internally you can present awards in a number of categories – top dollar volume, top product volume, highest over budget, etc. For those who call on you, a thank-you gift for their work and effort will go a long way in strengthening your relationship with them. Even though you’re the customer, it helps to show that you appreciate their efforts. Your distributor partner can help you find great awards and incentives.
21 Humbug Day
To all the grumps and curmudgeons out there, today is your day to let it all out. If the holidays and all the trappings – decorating, gift buying, baking planning – are getting to you, take time out for a few "bah-humbugs." You get 12 so use them wisely. This is the perfect day for a bar or restaurant promotion. Invite harried shoppers in for special drinks and food. Provide fun logoed products like light-up shot glass, T-shirts and coaster sets to make the day special. Your distributor can help you secure products and finalize all the details.
Do not wait until the last minute to secure gifts for your best clients, vendors and employees. While the end of the year is the traditional gift-giving time, you should start early so that an administrative assistant isn’t sent to the local mall for last-minute gifts. When you begin the process early enough, you can nail down the perfect gift and have time to have it subtly logoed. Leather products, fine crystal, food baskets and the like can all be emblazoned with your company logo. Call your distributor today to start your corporate holiday shopping before it’s too late.
Solve This Dilemma
Every month, Successful Promotions will launch a new contest where we ask you, our readers and Facebook fans, for your most creative ideas for solving businesses' dilemmas. Each entry should be 50 words or less, and a promotional product must be part of the solution to the weekly challenge. Send all entries to firstname.lastname@example.org by the specified deadline in order to qualify for a free gift. Winners will be randomly selected from all entries.
This Month's Contest: Two Lovely Ladies. Martha and Sallyrealized their dreams by launching their own small business – a home-cleaning company that caters to young professionals. Motherly charm and care are the highlights of their business. "We clean better than your mom" is their motto, and some of their "little touches no one else does" include leaving handwritten notes for their clients, baking cookies and organizing/cleaning out refrigerators. How can they go about drumming up more business? They want to launch a marketing campaign that uses promotional products as well as social media. Send your best ideas to email@example.com by October 16, 2011.
Create a one of a kind cover for your cell phone, iPad® or laptop. Go online to upload your photo or design and select your electronic device model. Within 5‐business days your custom skin will be printed, cut to fit the selected device model and shipped. asi/42989
Elegant fashionable ballpoint pen with comfort grip. Available in Purple, Red, Blue, Green, Grey and Silver (With Black Grip). Imprinted with your logo. Pricing starting at $0.90 for 100 pieces. asi/45100
Polish Up your Awareness Campaigns –
Unique promotions for Breast Cancer Awareness and Ovarian Cancer Awareness. Asstd. sizes and nail colors available. Visit us at ESPOnline. A portion of the proceeds are donated. asi/49640
IDPaspinline serves up the best Deals and outrageously low Lapel Pin prices. FREE SETUP, Fast delivery, electronic artwork, unlimited revisions and all-inclusive pricing with
no hidden fees! ASPIN-SE-WH Soft Enamel 3/4" priced as low as $0.60(P). ASI 5-Star Supplier. asi/62088
Celebrate the HUGE SAVINGS from 5-Star Supplier IDPaspinline on Custom Embroidered Patches. Patches (ASPIN-PATCHES 2" less than 50% embroidery) priced as low as $0.50(P) All inclusive pricing, Free Setup and Free shipping. Now that's something to get excited about. asi/62088
Premium quality laser pointers and presenters. Long lasting giveaway items
to maximize your brand with customers and business partners. Perfect ideas
for corporate, education, healthcare, engineering, and manufacturing clients.
Over 90 unique styles to choose from. 5-star supplier. asi/34375
Fairytale Brownies Custom Regal Tower RF303X. Dramatic Presentation, Lasting Impression. They'll thank you for your generosity! This impressive purple tower will indulge them with three sizes of fudgy brownies, crunchy cashews, chewy cookies and rich, creamy cocoa. Your color logo is printed on a custom gift tag, so you'll be sure to hear how much they loved this gift! asi/53518
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