• The sales incentive trip is an important piece of the total sales compensation program
  • When designed and deployed appropriately, incentive trips can drive additional performance
  • Organizations should consider five critical elements when designing and managing a sales incentive trip

Sales roles are demanding and high-stress positions for every organization. Sales employees have to prospect, build relationships, manage opportunities and perform myriad other tasks in order to achieve short-term and long-term revenue objectives. These roles typically have high turnover rates, and replacing sales reps costs companies hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Companies need to optimize their hiring process, infrastructure and compensation philosophy to create and sustain a successful sales organization.

One way organizations reward top performers and retain top sales talent is running a sales incentive trip program (also known as Winner’s Circle or President’s Club). When positioned, promoted and executed properly, incentive trips can help drive improved results and foster a competitive environment — and they can be cost-neutral.

group-of-friends-having-funMany organizations struggle with how best to develop, promote and administer these programs to ensure they achieve desired results. SiriusDecisions has identified five key elements that best-in-class sales organizations consider when creating and managing sales incentive trips. Become a best-in-class sales organization by familiarizing yourself with the sales incentive trip framework below, which includes five essential elements:

  • Alignment.The sales incentive trip is an opportunity to promote alignment between functional groups that make up the revenue engine by recognizing both quota-bearing and non-quota-bearing employees. Although some companies limit attendees to sales reps, others foster a more inclusive environment by including sales overlays, sales engineers, marketing and sales support. Another option is to offer multiple versions of an incentive trip. For example, the top sales performers can attend the President’s Club trip, while a second tier of top performers attends a “circle of excellence” event. Each type of incentive program can reward attendees with gifts, dinners or monetary awards.
  • Transparency. Create a calendar-year or fiscal-year incentive trip schedule. The schedule should include hard deadlines to calculate winners (beginning of the year or fiscal year), announce the next year’s trip (early Q1), design and set qualifications for next year’s trip (Q1), assess the most recent trip’s feedback (Q2), and plan the incentive trip (Q3). It is in your company’s best interest to plan early and lock in discounted pricing.
  • Accountability. Create clear ownership and consensus with a committee and a formal charter. A steering committee should include executive leaders, sales stakeholders and non-sales functional stakeholders. Non-sales stakeholders may include representatives from finance, legal, HR and the compensation team. Sales stakeholders may include sales leadership, top sales reps, sales operations and sales enablement leaders. A charter should include program vision, objectives, scope, milestones, timelines, risks, and roles and responsibilities for each committee member.
  • Fairness. Complement existing compensation plans and set attainable thresholds for reps to qualify for the sales incentive trip. Setting unrealistic targets or thresholds can actually have the opposite of the intended motivational effect as reps immediately decide they can’t compete effectively. Create targets that are attainable and quantifiable. Sales reps should have control over the key performance indicators to qualify for the incentive trip, and targets should fit within existing sales compensation plans (e.g. reps must attain 150% of quota to qualify). Do not set qualifications on activity or judgment (e.g. filling out opportunity plans or needs to meet a “qualified” state on the basis of the manager’s discretion).
  • Connectivity.Consistently communicate and market the sales incentive trip throughout the organization. Spread posters around the offices and incorporate reminders into the employee portal site to create and maintain excitement. Present data on a monthly and quarterly leaderboard. Communicate results in a way that enables sales employees to easily understand the calculations behind them.

Hiring, developing and maintaining a high-performing sales organization is not easy. Best-in-class companies have incentive programs that align with company goals and are understood throughout the organization. The sales incentive trip is an important piece of the compensation program. Create excitement and incent your best performers with a sales incentive trip. Your company will experience lower turnover and increased sales tenure.