Where to Find the Money

Over the years, one of the biggest frustrations I’ve heard sales and marketing VPs talk about is motivating their salespeople to really drive hard to achieve their sales goals. They struggle to create an incentive reward program that will make their people stand up and take notice then work like the dickens to achieve it.

The other biggest frustration? Budgeting for this effective incentive reward program.

We hear it all the time:

“Salespeople like public recognition so giving them a cash bonus doesn’t really give them something to brag about.  Besides, giving cash is really expensive.”

“The marketing budget is so tight.  We didn’t even put an incentive program in it this year.  In this market, there’s no way to anticipate how many sales we’re going to get.”

“Upper management doesn’t believe that incentive programs actually gets us more sales so they don’t want to spend the money.”

In working with executives over the years, we heard all of these frustrations, and others. So we’ve developed funding alternatives that allow executives to offer the incentive program that they know is going to get them more sales.

It occurred to us that you or someone you know might find this experience useful. So we put together a short whitepaper, “How to Fund an Incentive Program,” that describes some ways to deal with this roadblock.

Click Here to receive this Free Whitepaper.

 I hope these ideas help you see that there are ways to develop an effective reward program that will  inspire your salespeople to higher performance without breaking the bank. If you’d like to talk further about these ideas, give me a call at 978-287-9500.

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.

Reward ≠ Recognition.

We recently worked with a new client who was confusing “reward” and “recognition”.

Sandra wanted to get even more results from a salesperson who was already hitting his quota.  Sandra knew that it would take less effort to get more out of Mark than two or three of her other talented salespeople and in the end, it would be more profitable.

First she tried a financial bonus for any sale over Mark’s original goals.  But Mark was already financially successful and was unmoved.  Next Sandra appealed to Mark’s ego by asking him to mentor some new people for which he would be compensated.  This helped the new salespeople but Mark didn’t secure any new business.

What was Sandra missing?  And how were we able to construct an incentive program that inspired Mark to sell 25% more than his target?   By understanding the difference between “reward” and “recognition.”  According to Merriam-Webster.com,


1)      Something that is given in return for good or evil done or received or that is offered or given for some service or attainment;

2)      A stimulus administered… following a correct or desired response that increases the probability of occurrence of the response.


1)      Special notice or attention

We offered Mark something he couldn’t get on his own.  Something that would show his friends and family how successful he is.  Something that would affect his behavior for years to come.

Isn’t that what you want for all your salespeople?  Everyone – from beginners to veterans – needs reward AND recognition.  The challenge is what combination works for YOUR people?

We’re offering a free one-hour consultation to people like Sandra who want to motivate their top performers.  If that’s you, click the link below, tell us a little about your situation and we’ll be in touch.

I want to motivate my TOP performers.


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.


 Request your FREE
“Designing Effective Incentives”
Strategy Session HERE

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 colin@peincentives.com 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 colin@peincentives.com or (978) 287-9500.

For more tips on motivating your employees, sign up for our newsletter below…

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.


Memories of Boca

It’s wonderful when you can revisit a destination and experience something new and exciting.  We recently operated a program in Florida and stayed at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. Boca Raton is an original Florida resort developed in the mid 1920’s. Today it’s a lovely mix of old luxury and today’s conveniences. The resort recently underwent a $120Million renovation and the changes are visible and deep.  Visiting Florida in the summer is also a terrific value.

View of Beach Club and Ocean

The resort boasts two golf courses, tennis courts, a fitness center and a phenomenal spa.  It has great restaurants, beautiful vistas of a half mile white sand beach and the Atlantic Ocean.   From the front desk staff to the restaurants, service here is top notch.  It felt very personalized as the Bellman, among others, engaged us in pleasant and very welcoming conversation as we were shown to our rooms.  It was the perfect centerpiece for an incentive reward program.

On this trip, our client wanted their participants to interact with each other and to network with upper management.  They also wanted to provide them with some true vacation time – time to spend on their own away from their business colleagues.  We accomplished this with a varied and interesting agenda.

Aboard the Kathleen Windridge

On the first evening, the entire group boarded the Kathleen Windridge, a luxury yacht, where they enjoyed cocktails, dinner catered by the resort and a four-hour sail on the Intracoastal Waterway.  They enjoyed views of beautiful homes, the setting sun, the company of their co-workers and company executives while listening to a Jimmy Buffet-style trio.

Over the next few days, guests enjoyed the amenities of the resort as they pleased. We provided additional agenda flexibility by applying a room credit to the guests account.  This credit could be used at any of the many restaurants onsite, at the golf course, spa or for any other resort service. The room credit concept works for the company since it is cost effective, provides a good value and delivers agenda flexibility to the guest.

Tower of Boca

I would like to share one last memory of our trip to Boca Raton.  At the end of a delicious meal at Trulucks Seafood, Steak and Crab House, we ordered a “Tower of Boca,” for our table, a foot high chocolate square pound cake filled with raspberries and whipped cream.  Each individual serving was topped with dark chocolate sauce and sugared pecans.  It was astonishingly delightful and managed to satisfy every sweet tooth in our party. If you are in the Boca area you really ought to try this restaurant for an exceptional dining experience. I recommend it highly!


How Far Would Your Incentive Partner Go For You?

I love to travel.  I also love being able to help clients plan the most outstanding incentive program possible.  And after being in this business for over 25 years, I know how important it is to get all the details right.  So when a recent site inspection didn’t measure up to our standards, we knew what had to be done.

Our 4-day PEI Executive Summit in Cabo was followed by an 8-day program.  In between, we scheduled a site visit in anticipation of bringing our clients to the location later in the year for the “official” site visit.  We were stunned when we found major issues in food and beverage and the overall level of service at the hotel we had intended to use.  We had high expectations for first class accommodations, butler service in the rooms and concierge level support throughout the facility.

We endured three meals, each with its own issues.  Bacon and sausage swimming in its own fat at the breakfast buffet; poorly presented bread/olive oil at dinner; frozen fish that was still cold and ultimately tasteless;  chocolate soufflé that was actually a chocolate lava cake, which would have been nice if that’s what had been ordered.

We met with onsite management, our salesperson and the Director of Food and Beverage.  We conveyed all of our concerns and informed them that we were prepared to move the program to another property.  We requested a conference call with the General Manager the following week, after he returned from a business trip.

During that following week, we were once again hosting a program with another group but during our free time, followed up with the General Manager on a Friday.  He assured us that the situation was caused by a confluence of issues and promised that steps would be taken to ensure that by the time we returned with our client, scheduled for the Fall, all would be well.

We said, “Great!  See you on Tuesday.”  So rather than head home after nearly 3 weeks on the road, we made one more visit to the property.  We also took the opportunity to spend an extra 2 days on the island and check out a different property just in case it was needed.

We’re happy to report that the General Manager’s promise was kept.  Almost overnight, the staff “got their act together.”  The food and beverage experiences matched or exceeded our expectations.  We sampled almost every food offered in every restaurant (small samples, thank you!) to ensure top quality.  And at every level, the service was transformed.

Our goal was not to fix their problems but to ensure that they are capable of delivering the level of service and quality of experience that we expect for our clients.  And this they accomplished.  When the time comes to take our client for their own site inspection, we will again satisfy ourselves that the property is perfect by arriving 2-3 days early and reviewing every detail as we have already done.

It would have been nice to be home for those four days but that’s the price of delivering excellence.  A price we’re willing to pay.

Just One of Those “Lifetime Memories”

Last month I wrote about the wonderful time we had in Los Cabos during our PEI Executive Summit.  I want to talk more about one particular event that was so amazing that I just can’t stop thinking about it.

Travel is a huge part of the work Colin and I do and we love it. However it can be exhausting to always be on the road.  The last six months in particular, have been very busy with programs, site inspections, and hosting our own executive summits.  Rarely do we have the opportunity to be the recipient of any of the special services that we create for our clients.  This was an exception.

The Fiesta Americana Grand in Los Cabos has designed an evening called “Barefoot Elegance.”  From start to finish, all five senses are engaged – sight, sound, taste, touch and smell.

It starts as we approach the beach.  We are greeted by butlers who “check” our shoes, remove them on trays and escort us to a living room on the beach with overstuffed rattan couches where we are served grape martinis and hors d’oeuvres.  After enjoying this brief respite, we are then taken further down the beach where there are 12 massage therapists standing in various yoga positions awaiting their guests.  The sun is setting, casting a beautiful glow over the whole scene.  At each guest “station” there was an overstuffed rattan chaise and a small wine barrel.  What happened next was quite unexpected!

We each were helped into our own individual barrel where we proceeded to stomp on purple wine grapes.  Aided by the therapists, we smashed and laughed, not realizing that the therapy had already started.  After a few minutes, we settled into the lounge chairs and enjoyed foot and lower leg massages with rare French grape seed oil and the grapes we had just crushed.  Closing our eyes, we could hear the ocean and waves crashing on the sand in front of us, feel the wind, smell the aroma of the grapes and citrus incense as well as enjoy the sensations of the massage.

The timing of day for this event was perfect.  When we opened our eyes, the tiki torches had been lit and the sun was disappearing over the horizon.  At this point, the wine sommelier took us through an exquisite wine and canapé pairing just as the stars began to appear.  After a short presentation on the constellations over Los Cabos, we moved to a private dining table where we watched the chef prepare and serve a magnificent five-course meal.  Another unexpected delight was the staff member who performed a romantic Italian opera aria over dessert.  It was just magnificent.

After dinner, we enjoyed some social time at the fire pit, tasting Mexican liqueurs and listening to live music.  By this time, the sun had fully set and the scene on the beach was warm and totally relaxing. Good food, good wine and good friends.

It’s not often that we step out of the role of host but on this occasion, I really felt like we had been on   the receiving end of this incentive program and of the world-class treatment we endeavor to deliver to our clients.  It was an experience I will remember for a long, long time!