. Sales Incentive Superstars | Northstar Meetings Group

Sales Incentive Superstars

Two programs demonstrate the power of intelligent, strategic sales incentives

Sales Superstars 2015

These two programs outshone the competition in this year's Motivation Masters Awards, winning the channel sales and sales incentive categories.

For the last 40 years, Information Builders, a New York-based business intelligence firm with revenues of $300 million, has been helping companies around the world collect, analyze, understand, and use its big data. Information Builders works with motivation firm Engagement Partners to build an extensive incentive program focused not just on its sales representatives and managers, but also on the technical experts that support its customers. All programs incorporate a points-based merchandise catalog as well as a sales incentive trip. In 2013, winners traveled to St. Kitts in the British Virgin Islands.

The main contest is "The Great North American Q4 Countdown-to-Quota!" and it has eight separate program components. To qualify for the Quota Club trip, salespeople must make 150 percent of their Q4 quotas, regional managers 125 percent, and area vice presidents 110 percent. And of course, anyone making 100 percent of their annual quota qualifies. Areas that make their Q4 quotas can choose three to five non-commissioned staffers to send on the trip as well.

Another program focused on generating attention for a specific product, while a third focused on signing up customers and prospects to attend the Information Builders User Conference Summit. Two others focus on getting technical support staff in front of customers.

ROI was very impressive in 2013, generating record revenue and a 20-percent increase in new accounts. Looking at the Q4 Countdown-to-Quota contest, Jerry Duci, Information Builders' director, field sales development, says, "I looked at only the over-quota portion of Q4 revenue [and] I assumed that the contest impacted only 5 percent of this," he says. "Assuming these are conservative estimates, the ROI would still be a whopping 700 percent!" Using equally conservative numbers, the other contests' ROI ranged from 250 percent to 775 percent, Duci estimates.


When Dayton, OH-based WinWholesale, a wholesaler of plumbing, electric, HVAC, industrial, and waterworks products wanted to increase sales, it turned to ITA Group in 2009. Because of WinWholesale's unique organizational structure -- it operates approximately 550 local firms in which the company and the local partners share ownership -- the company needed an equally unique program. The final result was ProRewards, a contractor loyalty and channel sales incentive program.

"It's not just a blanket program where everyone is treated the same," explains Steve Edwards, vice president of marketing for WinWholesale. "It's very customizable and flexible, and it works well with our shared ownership system."

ProRewards lets local company presidents choose which contractors to target with the ProRewards program, and each of those targeted customers is given a set of purchasing goals: a base and a stretch. Base goals are automatically determined by the program's website while stretch goals are determined by the local company president. When a customer reaches her base goal, she can spend points on an online awards catalog with more than 10,000 merchandise items. When a customer reaches his stretch goal, the points earned for each purchase are doubled. In 2014, travel awards were added, and a commercial charge program was also incorporated.

The pilot launched in 2010 with just under 100 local companies; today, more than 300 participate. In 2013, the program's ROI was 487 percent, driven primarily by a 55 percent increase in sales.  Those contractors' average purchases were 235 percent higher than that of those who were invited to participate in ProRewards but chose not to enroll.

To execute a successful program like ProRewards, WinWholesale also invited its vendor manufacturers. "This year we will come close to having 40 sponsoring manufacturing partners; that lends a lot of credibility to our program," says Edwards.

WinWholesale and ITA Group are also constantly monitoring the program. "We have so many participating vendors because we are combining those financial results with actionable reporting," says Pat Pelischek, senior business development manager at ITA Group.

"What ProRewards shows is that simply having a website that gives out points or merchandise isn't a strategy," he adds. "It has to align with what a company wants to accomplish and ensure that happens in a measurable way; that's what we have here with ProRewards.