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Recognition & Rewards

Adapting Your Sales Incentive Strategy for the Next Normal [Webinar Recap]

No one saw COVID-19 coming, and as a result, your President’s Club trip is out the window. Sales leaders are left scrambling to claw back invested expenses, while strategizing new tactics to keep their reps motivated & in the loop.

As a sales leader, how do you pivot your incentive program to ensure it keeps the attention of your team, your reps remain 100% committed to reaching their goals, and you retain your top-performers?

Last week we hosted a high-energy, ideas-fueled panel of speakers sharing best practices for adapting your sales incentives strategy for our next normal. We hosted Outreach’s VP Sales UK, Tom Castley, Replayz.com’s Founder/CEO, Dave Kennett, and our COO at Blueboard, Kevin Yip. Check out the recap and full recording below via YouTube.

Group trips are off the table, so how are sales leaders responding?

Sales leaders are responding in different ways to the pandemic. According to research by the Incentive Research Foundation, most organizations are considering postponing, canceling, or translating their sales incentive programs into monetary rewards (cash, gift cards, and swag). But here’s the problem with these responses: 

  • Postponing. Even if you push back your incentive trip to the end of 2020, chances are there will still be reps who won’t feel comfortable traveling this year. You also risk additional postponement as group travel is still very much up in the air with no vaccine in clear sight. 
  • Canceling. Getting rid of your program altogether is completely deflating to your reps who have worked so hard to earn this reward. This will inevitably lead to reduced motivation to hit targets in 2020 and likely a mass exodus from your organization by your top performers. 
  • Transitioning to cash and gifts. Cash is the last thing your well-compensated top performer needs. Any cash bonus will likely go into paying off debt or covering monthly bills, which doesn’t build any type of long-term impact, memories, or loyalty. Plus, cash is a diminishing marginal utility, which means that they quickly lose value over time - even if you continuously increase the amount. 

A better option for saving President's Club.

When it comes to pivoting their sales incentives strategy, organizations have other options to choose from besides postponing their trips or cash rewards. Most importantly, when considering alternate paths to take, remember that your alternative President's Club solution needs to deliver on two very important goals:

  1. It needs to feel like a Club: the alternative plan that you choose needs to feel exclusive, exciting and create a sense of pride for those attending. Alternatives like cash and cancelations don't feel differentiated to other sales incentives or SPIFFs offered throughout the year, and as a result, will leaving your best reps feeling slighted or deflated.
  2. It needs to be timely: your reps have worked hard and are waiting for the reward they deserve. You've already poured hours into planning your original Club trip, and it's impossible to assume that you have that much time to give to a Plan B. Your alternative solution needs to be quick-turn, and easy to administer.

At Blueboard, we've crafted a President’s Club offering that delivers on both of these core goals. We empower employees to choose from a spectrum of experiences for themselves, depending on their unique needs, interests and comfort levels. This can take the form of a relaxing spa day at a luxury resort in Jackson Hole or a DIY greenhouse project to build from the comfort of home - bucket list experiences that they wouldn't have otherwise invested in on their own. These rewards are personalized and planned from start to finish by our incredible Concierge Team, creating little to no administrative overhead for you. Here’s even more reasons why our alternative option is a better than cash, canceling or the status quo: 

  • Increases shareability. Nobody is going to Tweet about their $1,000 cash bonus or the Apple Watch their company gifted them. On the other hand, who wouldn’t want to publicly document a family trip to Machu Picchu? This type of virality will increase engagement in your program, motivate your employees to go for that top-tier trip, and build loyalty to your organization. 
  • Inclusive and supportive of each rep's comfort level: Our rewards never expire and they absolve the organization of liability because it is the employee's choice of when or where they travel. No need to worry about a rescheduled trip getting canceled down the line, and no need to worry about company's liability. They get the opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments when they are ready and your team can keep focusing on the quota goals.
  • Diversifies risk. As a sales leader, you’ve likely noticed that you lose many top performers after your annual President’s Club trip to Hawaii. The reason? They waited around to get their reward but don’t feel the need to do it again next year. With experiences, you can actually diversify that risk by distributing when these individual trips happen. Also, you’ll find employees aren’t as willing to leave an organization that gave them an all-expenses paid trip to swim with whale sharks in Mexico. 
  • Provides grounding: It’s easy for the days to blur as we work from home. Unlike the office setting, where there were Bagel Wednesdays and happy hours to anchor our work experience, COVID-19 has made it difficult to keep track of what day it is. Experiences are a great way to punctuate those days and serve as a hook in the year with regards to our memories. Think about it: you’ve probably had the experience of flashing back to a trip or other big peak event to ground yourself in what happened when. With cash, you lose this critical time of year attachment. 

Looking ahead: Adapting your sales incentives strategy for the "next normal".

Most sales organizations have a playbook when it comes to planning sales incentive trips. But as a result of the pandemic, that playbook has gone out the window and sales leaders are left looking for new, turnkey solutions to keep reps motivated and excited. This presents an opportunity to overcome some of the existing challenges with sales incentives: 

  • Friction within organizations. Certain sales incentives, such as President’s Club, can create friction within companies. Not only does it demotivate the 90% of the sales team that doesn’t achieve that elite status, but it’s also not even available as an option for other departments - which can make them feel like their roles are less important to the organization. COVID-19 presents an opportunity to reinvent what that looks like and expand these programs to other teams as well. 
  • Easy to opt out. The truth is that going on a President’s Club trip is a lot of work. You fly for an entire day to get to Hawaii, spend two days making small talk with people you work with everyday, then spend another day flying back. After the third or fourth year, it gets old. As a result, some people choose to opt-out so they can take a real vacation with their families instead. This means those reps don’t get the reward they worked so hard for, and those last-minute drop outs lead to sunk costs for the organization. 
  • Not personalized. Sales reps are considered to be "coin-operated," which is why many organizations still default to cash incentives. But with the rise of millennials and Gen Z in the workplace, personalization is key. This means your sales reps want the option to choose a reward that’s personally meaningful to them - and cash is far down on that list. 


Even beyond the pandemic, we believe this new approach to sales incentives - giving reps the opportunity to check off their bucket list items and democratizing access to these programs - will become the next normal for organizations. 

Looking for new ways to motivate your sales reps towards growing revenue goals? Learn more about our President's Club offering, sales incentives offerings, and connect with our team to discuss your program goals online here.

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