Motivation Masters Awards: The 2013 Finalists

It is our pleasure to announce the finalists of Incentive’s fifth annual Motivation Masters Awards. This year, we’ve selected 14 of the best entries that we received in three different categories: sales incentives, channel salesforce programs, and broad employee engagement and recognition programs. These awards celebrate the best, most effective, and most creative incentive and engagement programs of the year, showcasing what truly great incentives look like. We will announce the category winners and the Grand Motivation Master in our January/February 2014 issue.

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Engagement & Recognition

Daiichi Sankyo

Dates: Jan. 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013

A global pharmaceutical firm with Japanese roots, Daiichi Sankyo launched its Arigato (Japanese for “thank you”) employee recognition program seven years ago during a merger. Working with Maritz Motivation Solutions, the company designed the program to improve engagement, increase productivity, motivate employees, and align employees with company strategies, goals, and values. The points-based merchandise program grew to include 87 other recognition and rewards programs, including a formerly cash-based sales incentive program. Encompassing manager-based rewards and on-the-spot recognition, Arigato was heavily promoted and supported. It also underwent a recent branding overhaul, added recognition coaching for managers, and maintained a budget that continued to grow, even in a difficult economy.

Results: Arigato became the most widely recognized employee program that Daiichi Sankyo offers. It was used by more than 90 percent of the company’s managers, and 96 percent of its employees have received recognition — in fact, they average 10 per year. There has been a 25 percent increase in recognition given out since the program was launched.


Dates: Jan. 3, 2012 to April 30, 2013

At Immucor, a pharmaceutical firm that focuses on products to test compatibility in blood transfusions and organ transplants, employees’ jobs are literally matters of life and death. When the company decided it needed to increase employee engagement with its core values and initiatives, as well as build a culture of recognition, it worked with TharpeRobbins to create the What We Do Matters program. 

The goal was to create a total recognition platform that included peer-to-peer recognition, length-of-service awards, and performance recognition for a small but global company with a number of offices and outside sales reps. Starting with a vigorous communications program, What We Do Matters encouraged both employees and managers to thank and recognize peers for above-and-beyond work in line with company values, using e-cards and redeemable points from a merchandise catalog. Managers and other employees could see recognition communications, and managers also had to approve peer-to-peer awards.

Results: E-cards were used throughout the company. In just the first month, a total of 129 e-cards were sent out, and close to 70 percent of point-based award nominations were approved.


Dates: Nov. 1, 2011 to Feb. 1, 2013

Snack foods maker Snyder’s-Lance, whose products include Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels and Cape Cod Potato Chips, turned to TharpeRobbins to overhaul its outdated employee recognition program. Working with an employee committee, the program aimed to create a single, all-inclusive platform that was easy to use, included robust communications tools and back-end tracking, and supported the company’s values and “Winning as One” culture. 

The committee prioritized the company’s length-of-service program before moving on to other areas, including performance awards and a peer-to-peer/e-card program that used a single points-based catalog of awards.

Results: The new program, which rolled out in phases, enabled the company to monitor results and the budget of the program. It also showed managers how individual employees were performing and upholding company values. In the first six months, 21 percent of employees were recognized by their peers and managers, and the salesforce, in particular, was energized and motivated by the new reward opportunities, with one region seeing 6.8 percent sales growth in a single quarter — more than the cost of the entire recognition program.


Dates: Ongoing

Medical waste disposal firm Stericycle worked with All Star Incentive Marketing to create 1st Safety, a safety improvement program. With the goal of reducing employee injuries and subsequent automobile insurance and workers’ compensation claims, as well as improving communications with the workforce and boosting employee engagement, the company launched a pilot program in Stericycle’s Southern California region in July 2011. 

Employees can accumulate 25-point vouchers for remaining injury-free both individually and in small groups, and vouchers are available to managers for on-the-spot awards. Vouchers can be redeemed for a wide variety of merchandise and event tickets from an online catalog on a customized website, which also serves as a communications hub and site for safety information. In addition to the points, one employee each quarter wins a big-screen TV.

Results: Stericycle of Southern California has seen insurance claim costs reduced by 80 percent, and claims themselves are down 43 percent. The company saved $800,000 — four times the program’s budget — from its launch in July 2011 through the end of 2012.

Sales Incentive Programs


Dates: Feb. 1 to Dec. 31, 2013 

Grupo Nutresa, based in Medellín, Colombia, is a major Latin American producer and distributor of foods that range from chocolate to meats and pasta. Its Apasionados (People With Passion) program targets two groups: One is focused on the 1,000-person-strong salesforce, and the second is for all employees, including salespeople. Together, they focus on profit, market share growth, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement.

Salespeople have personal and regional goals aimed at meeting sales targets, and can accumulate points redeemable from a catalog of more than 2,000 merchandise awards. There are also spot rewards for reaching short-term goals. The main focus of Apasionados Imagix, the broader employee program, is on innovative ideas and productivity improvements. Working with the Glüky Group, both programs included a substantial communications program.

Results: Almost 3,200 rewards were redeemed by the middle of the year, with productivity increasing by 3.8 percent. The company’s sales goals were all met, and 301 employees were recognized under the innovation program, resulting in 101 process improvements and projects.

Patterson Dental Supply, Inc.

Dates: July 1, 2011 to July 1, 2012

Patterson Dental Supply turned to Rymax Marketing Services to reboot its Patterson Rewards sales incentive program, creating a points-based award catalog of more than 4,000 brand-name merchandise awards and gift cards that motivated its demographically diverse salesforce. The previous program, with more than $1 million in unredeemed awards and only a single gift card reward, was underutilized and failing to engage Patterson’s 1,500 employees. 

The new program aimed to engage salespeople by creating more desirable award offerings, improving customer service, and providing an online platform that made participation easier, as well as offered more robust back-end tracking. An ongoing communications program supported the July 2011 re-launch. It also made it easier for the company to run multiple incentive programs around specific brands.

Results: Seventy-two percent of Patterson Dental Supply’s salesforce enrolled in the new program, a substantial improvement from the previous program, and award redemption rates nearly doubled. Sales improved and far more salespeople surpassed their goals, resulting in a bottom-line revenue increase of 30 percent.


Dates: April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013

As a global technology company specializing in office imaging equipment, production print solutions, document management systems, and information technology services, Ricoh relies on its field technicians to tailor solutions to meet customers’ specific needs and challenges, as well as sell its products and services. The Service Technology Achievement Recognition (STAR) program combined training, recognition, and sales incentive components, culminating in a gala incentive trip to Lake Tahoe. 

A two-stage technical knowledge test sent the top 100 field technicians to a two-day vendor exhibition in Atlanta, where they competed in a variety of face-to-face competitions in categories ranging from troubleshooting and mechanical aptitude to teamwork and company initiatives. Winners in the technical excellence categories joined the 25 top revenue generators on the Lake Tahoe trip, which was hosted by senior executives that included the chairman and CEO.

Results: The STAR program was credited with helping generate a $62-million profit growth, and surveys show that participants were engaged and enthused by the program.

Channel Sales Programs


Dates: Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2012

Wholesaler incentives are big business for Anheuser-Busch, so a tremendous amount of thought, effort, and money is invested in making sure they are the best they can be. The Game Plan Incentives program had three tiers: National, regional, and local. The national campaigns were closely coordinated with major marketing efforts like the Bud Light Fast Start/Super Bowl campaign and the launch of the Bud Light Platinum brand. The regional campaigns aligned with both national and regional marketing initiatives, while local campaigns used both national and regional campaigns, as well as local key performance indicators. 

While the incentive campaigns involved extensive pre-planning, the Game Plan Incentives platform was also set up to react quickly if necessary. In April, when a competing liquor wholesaler gave its sales reps a $250 incentive to get bars to replace their Budweiser taps with this competitor’s beer, Budweiser’s program went immediately into action. An incentive program offering $300 to add new Budweiser tap handles was up and running within 48 hours. Most of the programs offered wholesaler sales reps points that were redeemable for merchandise, gift cards, or cash. Major incentive trips took the top wholesalers to destinations like the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and the NFL Draft in New York City.

Results: The results of Anheuser-Busch’s Game Plan Incentives were impressive at every level, from the Super Bowl campaign — 94 percent of participants met objectives, and 24 wholesalers qualified for the NFL Draft trip — to the Budweiser taps campaign, which saw more than 10,000 new taps installed in three months.

Siemens PLM Software Inc.

Dates: Oct. 1, 2012 to Sept. 30, 2013

Siemens Product Lifecycle Management software turned to incentive house Spear One to reboot the Siemens Industry Software Partner Rewards Program, a channel sales incentive program that covers approximately 1,800 sales reps who are employed by some 600 independent partner companies around the world. Beyond increasing sales, the company hoped the new program would also help to develop a robust communications system that would increase mindshare and loyalty, all in a platform that was globally consistent, easy to use, and transparent.

The points-based merchandise program that was developed added tiered status levels with increasing benefits and points-multipliers for larger transactions with other Siemens software. In addition, a leaderboard played up the competitive aspect of the program, while training and certification modules — with rewards — were created to help improve mindshare.

Results: The communications program improved sales rep participation significantly and enabled Siemens to track its sales partners’ results in real time. New license revenues grew, and engagement, loyalty, and motivation were all up as a result of the program.

State Auto Insurance Companies

Dates: March 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013 

Every year, State Auto Insurance Companies targets customer service representatives (CSRs) at 3,000 independent insurance agencies who work with multiple insurance firms, offering a four-month incentive program that aims to get them to submit policies to State Auto Insurance. The company rolled out an email-based communications program that informed CSRs that they were eligible for an award of $5 in credit with per auto insurance policy (above the typical cash commission). It kept CSRs informed of their progress, and it also highlighted all of the merchant brands offered by Once the incentive program ended, the CSRs could redeem their points for SuperCertificates that were redeemable for gift cards at more than 200 retailers — giving the mostly young, family-oriented CSRs the opportunity to acquire items they desired but wouldn’t necessarily buy on their own.

Results: More than 1,500 CSRs received awards, and auto insurance application submissions have consistently grown 5 to 10 percent over the previous year.


Dates: May 1, 2012 to April 30, 2013

When credit card payment processor Vantiv was spun off from a bank three years ago, it decided it needed to rapidly increase its market share and sales revenue. With Dittman Incentive Marketing’s help, it created a suite of recognition, engagement, and sales incentive programs all housed on a single platform. A key element of this strategy was the Vantiv Referrals program, a channel sales program focusing on two disparate but important groups: CSRs at its bank partners, and current merchant customers. Both interact with potential customers regularly, and Vantiv felt that by using a solid incentive program, both could be convinced to actively seek out high-quality referrals leading to additional business. 

With a broader points-based incentive platform in place that provided merchandise, gift card, and individual travel and experiential awards, Vantiv and Dittman created a substantive and ongoing communications campaign offering CSRs $25 worth of points per referral and customers $100 per referral.

Results: In less than one year, more than 1,200 additional referrals were captured as a result of the program

Volvo Cars of North America

Dates: May 1 to Dec. 20, 2012

The Volvo President’s Club was much more than just a channel sales incentive program for the automaker’s 25 best American retailers; it was also a way for Volvo Cars of North America to ensure that customer satisfaction remained high for an automobile brand known for its dedicated buyers. Outstanding vehicle sales were important, of course, but exceptional customer experience — in sales, service, and parts — was also a strict requirement for salespeople to get invited on the four-day, three-night trip attended by top Volvo executives, including the CEO. Working with Aimia, Volvo set out to create an annual program that would excite and inspire dealers throughout the country to be the best of the best.

For the 2012 Volvo President’s Cup, the top 25 dealers and a guest were feted at the five-star Calistoga Ranch resort in California’s Napa Valley, with insider vineyard tours and other wine country experiences not available to the general public. They also met with top company executives for a briefing on future plans and had time for open feedback.

Results: Participants rated the trip highly, and said that it strongly motivated them to qualify again. In addition, the 25 winners represented 8 percent of the company’s dealership network yet accounted for 16 percent of its total sales; this group was also 30 percent more sales-effective than the average Volvo retailer nationally.