A Paradigm Shift: Listening to Sales Reps for Better Incentive Programs

 | Jeffrey Haynes

Today, I want to share a story that proves how breaking tradition and listening to the people at the heart of your business can lead to remarkable results. It’s a tale of innovation, a dash of bravery, and, most importantly, understanding the unsung heroes of sales teams – the introverts.

When it comes to creating incentive programs for top sales performers, we often assume we know exactly what they need. After all, we’re marketers, and we’ve got the creative mojo, right? Well, not so fast. At Haute, we believe that involving salespeople in the decision-making process is crucial. It’s a perspective that has transformed our approach to creating events, videos, and full sales enablement programs.

Imagine this: salespeople planning videos or crafting pitch decks. It sounds like a marketer’s nightmare, doesn’t it? But it’s a reality that can happen when we don’t engage with our sales teams. Their role is to build relationships with customers and set the stage for delivering the tools that marketing teams and agencies develop. Let’s keep our lanes clear, folks!

But it’s a two-way street. We shouldn’t just deliver tools to sales teams and hope they figure it out. Instead, we should be in constant dialogue with them, understanding their needs, and addressing their pain points. Collaboration is key to success.

Now, let’s talk about incentives and awards. Many event professionals and marketers tend to generalize sales reps as extroverts who just want a good time. However, reality check: there are plenty of outgoing introverts among them who often feel left out when it comes to planning incentive programs and award ceremonies.

Recently, we had a bold client who embraced a seemingly crazy idea – one that would challenge a 30-year-old tradition. Traditionally, we’d make over 300 attendees sit through a grueling 3-hour awards ceremony, where each sales rep would walk on stage to accept their award. Sounds familiar, right?

We decided it was time for a change. But we couldn’t just scrap the tradition without a thoughtful alternative. So, here’s what we came up with:

  • Pre-event photo opportunity: We created time before the event for sales reps to get their pictures taken with the executive team, making it efficient and memorable and replacing the onstage “grin and grab.”
  • Custom signs for Luminary Brunch (top 1%, white wire signs)
  • Custom shaped signs with quotes from Achievers installed throughout property for the duration of the event.
  • Activated all available digital screens throughout property with Achiever quotes (on a loop, swapped out/updated daily)
  • Highlight winning teams: Instead of the endless parade on stage, we highlighted winning sales teams table by table, using live music performers and captivating globe lighting at each table.
  • Personalized recognition: We still read off the winner’s name and spotlighted them at their table – ensuring they got their well-deserved moment in the spotlight.

So, how did it all work out? 

  • The attendees were continually thrilled to find surprise moments of recognition throughout the event rather than relegated only to the awards gala. We say so many happy awardees taking photos next to their special pop-up moments. 
  • Well, the initial anxiety was palpable, but as the executive welcomed everyone, he introduced the new plan. To our surprise, the sales reps erupted with applause. A sigh of relief washed over the room.
  • As the night unfolded, each table started their own impromptu cheers and performances, creating bonds and interactions among the winners. 
  • The energy in the room was electric, and everyone left the award show motivated and ready to celebrate. No more deflated spirits or early exits; this time, the after-party was the highest attended in years, and the celebrations continued late into the night.

Breaking 30 years of tradition isn’t easy, but it’s often worth it. So, next time you pass by a top-performing sales rep, ask for a chat. You might be amazed at what you learn and how it shatters your assumptions.

In conclusion, when it comes to incentive programs, awards, and events, it’s time to put the sales team in the driver’s seat. After all, they are the ones on the front lines, and their insights can be a game-changer. Embrace change, listen intently, and watch your results soar.

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