How do you show your salespeople you really care about their well-being and contribution to the company? Memorable one-of-a-kind gifts are good, and so are offerings that make the salesperson's life a little easier. The suggestions from CEOs and sales managers below work well as holiday gifts, end-of-year rewards, or incentives to sell even more in 1993. (For more ideas, see "Ongoing Sales Rewards," Sales and Marketing, April 1992, [Article link])
Mackay Envelope, Minneapolis, a $33-million envelope supplier; 20 salespeople
Reward: Big sales deserve big recognition, like a five-foot tennis racket from Think Big ($220, 212-925-7300).
Payoff: Salespeople don't soon forget the larger-than-life gifts they receive from CEO Harvey Mackay, who says they're "a great way to recognize big accomplishments." He once gave his top salesperson for the year a 100-foot banner from Supergram (about $50, 800-322-6637) that said "Thank you" in 15 languages. Sales-force turnover at his company is almost zero: only two of its members have left in the past 5 years; one salesperson has been with the company for 35.
The Gift of Time
Bohdan Associates, Gaithersburg, Md., a $150-million microcomputer retailer; 50 salespeople
Reward: A time-management workshop from Time Systems ($135 to $195 a person for a four-hour course, 800-441-6600).
Payoff: Gary Dewey, director of sales at Bohdan, felt so strongly about helping his sales staffers cut clutter that he's had 90% of them take a half-day time-management course. "A salesperson who's well organized is happier and has more time to sell," says Dewey.
Best Team Effort
Dataflex, Edison, N.J., an $80-million-plus computer reseller; 12 salespeople
Reward: Customized leather collegiate jackets from the Idea Man (about $350, 213-870-0700).
Payoff: Peers see the jacket, which has a nine-color embroidered Dataflex wheel (the corporate emblem) on the back, as a status symbol, and the salespeople who wear one gain special recognition for their accomplishments. "It keeps them motivated," says CEO Rick Rose. "They look and feel important."
NCO Financial Systems, Blue Bell, Pa., a $4-million-plus collection agency; 10 salespeople
Reward: Hand-held "tension toys" such as the Eggsercizer from Brookstone ($8, 800-846-3000) and the set of Chinese Enamel Balls with inner chimes or the Deadball from Sharper Image ($24.95 and $12.95, respectively, 800-344-4444).
Payoff: The tension toys help alleviate stress when salespeople are cold-calling or trying to get through to important prospects. NCO executive vice-president Chuck Piola relies on recreational distractions like these to relieve his "nervous energy" and motivate himself, he says, particularly when he's on the phone making a sales call.
Wek Enterprises, Buena Park, Calif., a $7.4-million clothing manufacturer; 21 salespeople
Reward: An "electronic Rolodex," such as Sharp's Super Wizard ($399), a checkbook-size organizer that has a calendar, schedule with alarm, memo pad, phone directory, world clock, and 128K of memory. The gadget also has a PC link so you can transfer data to PCs back in the office. Similar models are available from cataloger Hello Direct (800-444-3556).
Payoff: This gift makes it easier for salespeople to keep on top of appointments and send sales information back to headquarters. "It keeps the sales team organized and gets rid of paper buildup," says CEO Bob Evans, who gets the sales data he needs faster as a result.
Teamwork by the Ropes
Robert Gerber, Freeport, Maine, a $2-million engineering and consulting firm; 22 salespeople
Reward: Took the salespeople on a custom-tailored three-day Outward Bound course (about $500 a person, 800-243-8520) to Hurricane Island, Maine, where they survived sailing, rock climbing, and a ropes course.
Payoff: "The program taught my staff how to confront and conquer everyday challenges," says CEO Robert Gerber. "It taught them to work together as a unit to enhance their team-building skills. In the office, you can avoid threatening challenges, but when you're out in the wilderness you must deal with them head-on." -- Researched by Vera Gibbons