Money for nothing

For several years running, this publication and its predecessors have published an annual cover feature extolling the benefits of non-cash incentives as performance boosters. Internally, we refer to it as our “bash cash” issue. To be sure, a substantial amount of research supports the argument that most employees are more engaged in an incentive program and work harder to reach goals when desirable non-cash incentives are offered instead of cash.

Researchers always caution that non-cash incentives only work as effective motivators if the program participants are already receiving a competitive salary. In fact, in the sales world, non-cash incentives are generally layered on top of a salary plus cash incentives.

As much as we believe in the performance improvement power of non-cash incentives, we also understand the importance of effective sales compensation plans. We are excited to dig deeper into that subject with the help of Mark Donnolo, managing partner of SalesGlobe, a sales effectiveness consulting firm.

“The sales compensation plan is one of the most significant drivers of performance in the sales organization and represents one of the single largest expenses a company incurs, but if the plan’s message isn’t clear or to their liking, sales reps will interpret it in their own financial interest,” Donnolo says. “As a corporate leader, you’ll get what you measure and what you pay for — and it may not always be what you expect.”

In our story (page 28), he discusses the importance of aligning your sales compensation plan with your sales strategy, clearly defining sales roles, and putting together the right mix of base salary and incentive pay. It’s complicated stuff and we only touch on a few key points in our story. Donnolo’s book, “What Your CEO Needs to Know About Sales Compensation” is a must-read for any sales manager who doesn’t want to spend money for nothing.

Our section on offsite meetings and travel (page 18) features insights on corporate incentive trips to iconic live events. For salespeople and other employees who have traveled extensively, finding an enticing travel incentive can be challenging. A number of companies have found the solution in trips to the Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby or other “bucket list” events. The secret, I discovered, is not only getting your top performers in the stands, but giving them VIP access that they would never be able to duplicate on their own.

If you could see one event live, what would it be? It’s fun to think about — and that’s why it drives performance.

Paul Nolan, SMM Editor