The 4 R’s of Sales Incentive Travel Programs

Keeping a top-notch sales team together in a competitive marketplace is no easy task. Star performers can get lured away by competitors, enticed by recruiters, or led astray by their own ambition and the challenge of something newer, better, different. Compensation and traditional benefits packages generally level the playing field, because most hiring companies know salaries, bonus and commission structures, insurance, and paid time off must all be on par with industry expectations.

However, forward-thinking organizations can develop a recruitment and retention advantage through a strategically executed sales incentive travel program. For example, the corporate research team at Selling Power has identified and ranked the best companies to sell for among the top sales forces in the United States. The list encompasses companies of all sizes – with sales forces ranging from fewer than 100 salespeople to companies with sales-force numbers in the thousands. Atop the rankings is Hormel Foods, whose Chairman’s Inner Circle contest (a tropical getaway with top company execs) is a popular source of motivation for Hormel salespeople.

In a recent publication, members of the Forbes Business Development Council expressed their views on how to recruit and retain top sales talent. Microsoft’s Rakhi Voria stressed the importance of combining financial and non-financial rewards: “Salespeople are motivated by rewards and recognition. Aligning the right incentives is critical to retaining your top sales talent. We’ve found that our sellers want a mix of financial and non-financial rewards. Extra money in their paycheck is welcomed, but they also appreciate things like trips.”

46% of U.S. businesses now use incentive travel to reward and recognize their top performing employees, salespeople, and channel partners, according to the Incentive Federation. More importantly, 87.5% of participants feel appreciated as a result of an incentive travel program. But it’s not just about sending the upper echelon of your sales team to Hawaii every year. After all, the 80-20 Rule states that twenty percent of a company’s sales team accounts for eighty percent of the sales and profits, but they’re very likely over-achievers who are already highly motivated. Derive an incentive travel strategy that also lights a fire under the next twenty percent, and you’ll really hit the sweet spot.

In The Anatomy of a Successful Incentive Travel Program, the Incentive Research Foundation found that any organization can use such initiatives effectively where there is a gap in productivity or unrealized work goals. The IRF findings conclude that to maximize the benefit of an incentive travel program, companies should focus on events that include:

  • recognition of earners.
  • networking opportunities for top performers to build relationships with other top performers and key management.
  • collaboration among top performers and management about best practices and ideas.
  • motivation of earners to continue to achieve high performance.

The report concludes that employees are motivated by both the incentive travel award they can earn and the recognition afforded to them by corporate leaders when they participate in the event. It’s also evident that incentive travel programs aid in the retention of excellent employees who are top performers for a company.

“Teaming” with Possibility – Partnering with Success

Incentive travel programs have been proven effective for motivating sales teams in virtually every industry. More often than not, winning staffers will be savvy travelers who’ve been there, done that, and need something more than a standard issue trip to a cliché destination to fuel their fire. The design of an effective program, therefore, should not only include a desirable destination and property, but unique experiences, interactive sessions, and an agenda that includes opportunities for executives and key managers to acknowledge earners for their efforts and contribution to the company’s financial performance.

The IRF emphasizes organizations that develop cultures based on employee recognition and rewards programs will be better positioned to survive, and even thrive, because their employees remain motivated and involved. Fortunately, it’s possible to team up with a strategic partner with a proven track record for creating experiences that help people reach their full potential.

The bottom line is that you can’t afford to lose your best sales talent, and well-rewarded employees tend to perform better and stay with their company longer than their peers. A properly conceived and executed incentive travel program can work wonders for your sales team’s top tier (and second tier) performers. Perk them up with the proven benefit of incentive travel, and turn potential into change-making power!

Ready to incentivize your sales team?