Ask Computer Systems Inc. has a habit of singling out salespeople who perform well and then sending them away. Ask, a $64-million producer of computer software in Los Altos, Calif., maintains one of the most generous travel-incentive programs in Silicon Valley.
Salespeople at Ask can win a free five-day trip for making 100% of their sales quota. Last year, members of the Gold Rush Club, those salespeople reaching 100% of their quotas, traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Sales employees who make 150% of quota become members of the Double Eagle Club and receive a trip extension. In 1984, Double Eagle Club members continued on from Rio to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for an additional three days.
Occasionally, Ask will lead its employees on a special mass exodus. In 1979, when sales showed exceptional strength and reached $3 million, the company took its entire staff of 20 to Las Vegas.
"Our company's travel incentive program creates a group that all salespeople aspire toward," says Mark Ripma, Ask's director of marketing. "It's an elite group of the best salespeople, and you either belong to it or you don't. It's a big motivator that boosts morale as well as sales. The psychology of salespeople is such that they want kudos, not just money, for their achievements."