Getting Buy-In

We were asked by Incentive Research Foundation to provide tips on running successful incentive programs.  While there are many ingredients that go into this process, one of the most important, in my opinion, is getting buy-in from the people you are trying to motivate.

For more information on why this is important and a few key ways to make sure you get it, CLICK HERE to listen and read about this topic.

I offered a $2,500 sales bonus. My salespeople were NOT impressed!

“I thought salespeople were motivated by money!”

I was speaking with a sales manager a few weeks ago. Ted (his name was changed to protect the innocent) was telling me about his sales team and his challenges in motivating them. He told me his compensation structure is a basic commission against draw structure.

As all good managers do, Ted sets specific goals with each member of his sales team. If they achieve their goals, they should make a nice living. Like most sales teams, Ted has a variety of achievers – those who always hit their quota, those who are more challenged but managed to get pretty close and those who should find another line of work. Ted’s toughest job is figuring out how to get them all excited so they sell more.

Ted recently instituted a bonus plan designed to get his salespeople to produce more sales. If they achieved these “stretch goals,” they would earn an additional $2,500. He was convinced that they would sit up and take notice of this generous bonus and run out to aggressively pursue more contracts. “Salespeople are only motivated by money,” he said. “Whenever we ask them what they want, they always say ‘money!'”  So he was shocked when the offer of the bonus did NOTHING to change their motivation.

Does Ted’s situation sound familiar to you? Have you cracked the code on inspiring focus and follow-through with your sales professionals? I’ve heard this scenario played out across industries, in public and private companies, and in large and small sales teams. Yes, it’s true that salespeople are motivated by money. But the form of that money matters.

Lucky for Ted, we were able to re-think the bonus offering, how it was earned and how it was delivered. The top achievers exceeded expectations, many of the middle made their numbers and even some of the struggling salespeople worked harder to get the mentoring and direction they needed to improve their skills.

Matching the right incentive to your sales team matters and it should be win-win situation for your company’s bottom line and your salesperson’s ego.

If you’re thinking about implementing a bonus program, don’t do it until you’ve taken advantage of our early 2013 free offer.

We have a limited number of FREE STRATEGY SESSIONS on “Designing Effective Incentives”.  If you’d like to apply for one of these, complete the information at the link below.

Do it now while you’re here reading this.


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“Designing Effective Incentives”
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A Holistic Approach to Employee Engagement

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, ‘holistic’ means “relating to or concerned with complete systems rather than with individual parts.” We understand that when we’re talking about medicine, a ‘holistic’ approach means to treat both the mind and the body. Have you ever thought about taking a ‘holistic’ approach to employee engagement when it comes to providing incentives?

Many companies see the benefit of implementing an incentive program to motivate their top performers. Incentive travel programs, specifically, are effective when targeting top salespeople or most loyal customers because they are in a position to generate sales or revenue to earn the reward. And the revenues they generate are substantial enough to fund the program.

But what impact does incentivizing the top echelon have on others in the organization who are either the middle performers who are unlikely to achieve the goals or in another department altogether and not even eligible?

A more ‘holistic’ approach to the engagement would mean implementing incentive programs that address the entire population or employees or customers, not just certain individual parts.

There are ways to offer incentives to every single person in your company. Even if a middle manager can’t quality for a trip to the Caribbean, they could secure enough points over time to go to a nearby city for a long weekend or choose a new I-Pad. Even at the entry level, performance can be enhanced by the promise of gift cards.

And these programs don’t have to bust your budget. You can allocate a certain percentage of any cost savings that is seen by improved performance to fund a reward program and your company will still see increased profits. (See our article Making Dollars and Sense in Incentive Magazine – Nov/Dec 2012 issue – about funding an incentive reward program.)

For more information on engaging all of your employees and customers in achieving better performance, contact Colin Higgins at or call 978-287-9500.

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5 Ideas to Treat “Hockey Stick Syndrome”

I’ve heard many sales or business leaders complain that the chart of their sales during the course of the qualifying period of an incentive program resembles a hockey stick.  And not a strong, upright stick that’s ready for play, but one that’s lying on the ground, flat, with only the blade of the stick pointing skyward.

How does this happen?  Oftentimes even the best salespeople take it easy or channel partners divert business elsewhere until the deadline to achieve an incentive sales award is looming.  Then they focus and the sales come in.  Wouldn’t you prefer a better effort all year long?

Here are 5 ideas to treat the “hockey stick syndrome.”

1)      Design a program that offers bonus points when certain levels of sales are realized by certain dates during the contest period.

2)      Provide an extra incentive if the total sales goal is achieved prior to the end of the contest.

3)      Assign extra incentives to certain products.  Work with a manufacturer to subsidize the cost of the additional reward that is associated with their product.

4)      Build in a “quick start contest” which rewards early successes.

5)      Reward consistency.  For instance, put some rules in place that would encourage a certain level of sales for consecutive months.

Remember, customers who buy early, have the opportunity to buy more during the contest period.  If you don’t encourage sales earlier in the game, you are leaving revenues on the table.

For more inspired ideas on designing the right incentive reward program for your team, contact Colin Higgins at or (978) 287-9500.

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How Do You Motivate the Middle?

Your top performers always perform. They earn the rewards and recognition you offer because it is their nature to consistently achieve results.

But what about the rest of your team?  How do you “motivate the middle” or biggest proportion of your target market?  This is one of the biggest challenges facing executives in a time when employee and customer loyalty as well as engagement cannot be assumed.

We are pleased to announce that Performance Enhancement Incentives has broadened the scope of its services to become a full Engagement Agency.  We can now provide you with the tools you need to help integrate all aspects of employee motivation – performance assessment, communication and learning, collaboration and innovation, rewards and recognition and the ability to measure the return on your investment.  The goal of the Engagement Agency is to help executives improve motivation and engagement in all your team members, not just the top performers, and achieve improved financial results through comprehensive and effective programs designed for your specific needs and business goals.

For example, we’ve worked with several national homebuilders who use incentive travel programs to motivate their sales teams.  Sales professionals eagerly await the announcement of the program and their individual goals.  Then throughout the year they work to earn the reward not only because they enjoy the travel experience but because they delight in the recognition that comes with being a top performer.  In every circumstance, the executives struggle with explaining why incentive opportunities are offered to salespeople and not to construction, customer service and administrative personnel.  Everyone agrees that it requires the effort of the entire team to deliver a quality home buying experience which contributes to increased sales but it is impossible to expand these particular programs to include every department.

The Engagement Agency will provide solutions to this dilemma.  Any individual in any department within a company can earn an incentive reward if they achieve their stated goals.   And this will all be managed in one place making it easy, cost effective and measurable for business leaders.

We will be soon be sharing more information about the Engagement Agency – the program opportunities, client management portal and the results you can expect to achieve in implementing an effective reward and recognition system for all the members of your business team. In the meantime, if you would like more information, don’t hesitate to contact me at 978-287-9500.


Short, Sweet and Memorable

Our recent program to the stunning island of Bermuda left a very favorable impression on the members of two different companies who had recently become one.  The cross functional group consisted of salespeople, engineering support personnel and management.  This was one of the first opportunities for high performers from the individual companies to come together and meet each other.  The goals of the program included recognizing high achievers from both companies, making new connections, building camaraderie and demonstrating a culture of high quality.

The opening day did not disappoint. The company’s welcome gift upon arrival was a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses which became a fun event as each guest was encouraged to try on different styles in order to choose their perfect pair.  That evening, the Fairmount Southampton outdid itself with an elaborate barbeque buffet on the beach.  Picture the soft pink sand; bright , aqua-marine water; brightly decorated tables; exquisite, melt-in-your-mouth food; premium open bar and music that made you want to kick off your shoes and move.  It was a surreal setting and the perfect kick-off for the 4-day get-a-way.

The next morning the guests participated in a sailing regatta.  The 10-25 people in each boat could choose whether to take part in the work of sailing or relax onboard.  The teams immediately got into competitive mode after receiving team hats and being instructed on the basics of sailing.  They quickly learned the meaning of sailing lingo such as “come about” which basically means “duck!”  This was an effective, experiential and fun team building exercise abetted by cool, refreshing beverages.

While sailing through Hamilton Harbor, each team participated in a destination quiz based on what they heard during the briefing, terminology aboard the boat, some historical notes about Bermuda and what they saw along the way.  Prizes were awarded to guests with the highest scores but everyone on board who enjoyed the beautiful day and the picture perfect scenery came away a winner.

After a leisurely afternoon, the company hosted an awards dinner recognizing all the higher achievers.  It was an opportunity for company executives to share their vision of the future and recognize excellence among their employees.

The following day the guests chose their own company-sponsored event.  Some played golf on the world-class Port Royal course, others took a “boat, bike and beach” tour around Hamilton Sound.  Another group enjoyed a grilling/cooking lesson hosted by Goslings Rum.  They tasted their way through a 3-course lunch sampling various rums and learning how to use the delicious liquid in marinades and sauces.

The final evening was free time for guests to sample the joys of Bermuda on their own.  Our concierge service helped them select a restaurant and their evening entertainment.

While the trip was short, the company achieved its goals of recognizing high achievers, bringing strangers together and using shared experiences to start new relationships.



A chance to learn from an expert, and from each other

Last week we hosted a number of industry executives at the Performance Enhancement Incentives Executive Educational Summit in Cabo San Lucas.  We have several goals for these summits which include 1) providing relevant information on employee incentives and travel reward programs; 2) introducing business leaders to a particular destination; and 3) demonstrating first-hand how a travel reward program can affect business results.  An added bonus is what happens when executives come together in a non-competitive environment – they share their own experiences and learn from each other.

Bruce Bolger and Colin Higgins

During the 3-day summit, attendees visited several venues and restaurants and experienced some of the attractions of this beautiful area.  Hotel executives conducted site tours to demonstrate their ability to manage groups of all sizes, arrange meetings, and provide exceptional food and service for their guests.  The food and service demonstrated at several restaurants proved that Cabo and the surrounding area can deliver an exceptional reward experience to visitors.

Bruce Bolger, managing director of The Enterprise Engagement Alliance, was the keynote speaker.  Bolger conducts research and creates measurement tools related to engagement, including the Enterprise Engagement Indicator and Meter for tracking an organization’s ability to improve performance through engagement.  At the summit, Bolger talked about the three-pronged approach to engagement – customer, employee and vendor.  When every aspect of the business is engaged, it maximizes a company’s performance and its value which in turn, impacts the stock value.  Bolger also discussed the effective use of incentives and recognition in achieving engagement success.

Summit attendees engaged with each other on topics that are important to business leaders.  They shared their challenges, successes and failures on the topic of employee engagement.  This exchange of high level intelligence is extremely valuable for these executives and they left the Summit filled with new knowledge and ideas to implement in their own companies.