A vacation giveaway is a classic sales incentive, but sales-quota deadlines can encourage last-minute sales and produce more losers than winners. Frank Garo-falo, founder of Numismatic Investments of New England, in Salem, N.H., has found a better way. At Numismatic, contestants take as long as they like to generate $50,000 of rare-coin sales, at which time an $800 travel credit is awarded.

Winners appreciate the flexibility of choosing when, where, and with whom they can spend their vacation. And the costs work out about the same as the luxury all-expenses-paid vacation normally awarded.

Since starting the incen-tive program three years ago, 30% of Garofalo's 2,000 sales representatives have collected. He claims his improved plan helps distinguish Numismatic from a slew of well-established competitors, all vying for the reps' attention.

"People spend so many hours working at their job that making the vacation hours is much more special, and they remember Numismatic in that light," says Garofalo. "You should see our postcard collection."