If necessity truly is the mother of invention, I say necessity is also the mother of incentives re-imagined …
So, how’s your 2020 going?
No, don’t answer.
Slightly more than half-a-calendar through the year, we’re all exhaustingly aware of the state of matters so there’s no need to review, rehash or regurgitate. But there is the opportunity to celebrate and toast the good that always comes from bad and be reminded there are silver linings to even the darkest of storm clouds. When smart, determined folks are backed into a corner for any reason, they typically get more innovative, more imaginative, and very creative. Tough times often beget great ideas.
Let’s talk about corporate incentives.
Historically, study after study has shown cash-based or merchandise-based incentive programs are motivating and enticing. But studies also show time off – more specifically, time off in fresh and relaxing surroundings on someone else’s dime – has a positive effect that lingers far longer than the initial gratifying impact of a $1,000 gift card or an 80” flatscreen [installation included].
Cruises, ski trips, tropical vacations are pretty sexy things, after all.
So … who wants to jump on a plane right now and head to Aspen or Ireland or the islands? [Okay, if I’m being honest, I do.]
While air travel has largely ground to a halt, the need to motivate employees eligible for incentives is as strong as ever. Perhaps even stronger as these hard-workin’ folks have had to work ever harder this year in trying circumstances to “make their numbers” or meet their goals.
Business in 2020 is tougher than ever. Consider the challenges of salespeople, for instance. Can you really greet a client or customer warmly when you’re practicing social distancing? [You should.] It’s also hard to have your friendly smile radiate when it’s covered in fabric looped around your ears. [Masking is important.] And how do you overcome your customers’ extra layer of resistance to spending when, in sunnier times, money would be flowing?
Tough time for building business, for sure. Nevertheless, salespeople and other hard-workers still need to know they are valued. They want to be rewarded and recognized — check their DNA, it’s right there in the gene strands — especially when they’ve persevered in a maelstrom of mayhem. So, what do you do?
Quite simply, reimagine the traditional incentive trip. But what does that mean? And what does it look like?
“Road Tripppppp …!”
Our team at dynami is proud of our legacy as “solutions people”. You have a challenge, a concern, an issue, a goal, a culture change, whatever…? Give us a little time to fire up the brain cells and we’ll come back to you with innovative, intelligent options, one of which may be the ideal solution.
Including incentives, Version 2020. Consider these possibilities …
Your top-25 highest-achieving sales professionals have each met and exceeded quota. It’s time to shine the spotlight on them, pamper them a bit, and let them know how much they mean to the organization. Since air travel is largely taboo at the moment, why not harken back to the glory days of The Great American Road Trip and hit the highways?
Imagine a sleek, shiny convertible being delivered to each of the 25 sales reps’ homes for use over the next seven days. High-quality travel bags, totes or backpacks arrive a week earlier, each personalized. A satellite radio station has been customized for your group by your company and plays road-trip tunes and shares messaging that makes you feel, well, important.
Spouses or guests get to share in the excitement as you roar off to an alluring, drivable destination for several days of restful, getaway fun and the chance to create wonderful memories [the kind that make you forget the challenges of the previous, or current, sales year].
The group is smaller than previous incentive programs since 50 people or less is the current recommendation. [If you reward your top-50 performers — meaning 100 total attendees — you can do two groups of 50 in different weeks.]
The more intimate size affords each person a greater opportunity to meet new colleagues or deepen existing relationships. It also allows for easier social distancing — two couples dining at a 10-top, for instance – and attendees can pre-select activities that makes them feel safest while enjoying their time away from the grind.
Alternatively, depending on the destination, attendees could enjoy in-room, in-villa, on-lawn or on-beach romantic dinners with socially distanced, pre-set tables and chairs, white tablecloths, candles and meals delivered by a waiter or waitress assigned to them for the evening. Spa and gym sessions can also be scheduled in advance to ensure safety in numbers … low numbers, that is.
C-Level execs will love it!
Roadshows are the bane of a C-Level executive’s existence since they take incredibly busy people out of the office multiple times in a short time-window. In this case, your CEO could be live-streamed into an Awards Night Gala to speak to the group of high-achievers and their spouses/guests. You can deliver a lot of inspiration and appreciation in 10-15 minutes of live-streamed remarks and you don’t give up days on end to travel and be physically present with each group. Of course your VP or Director of Sales would be onsite with the group to express their appreciation in-person.
These drive-in destinations would be regionally selected. Your Southeast Group stays in the southeast, your Northeastern group stays in New England, your Midwest Group enjoys mid-America, and so on, based on your company’s geographic territories.
Here’s the good news …
Eventually, this pandemic will abate. Business will build back, and we’ll ease closer to those days we knew as “normal” not too long ago. Air travel will be robust again, resorts and cruise ships will be re-opened for typical business, and we’ll one day – hopefully sooner, not later — return to incentives in which hundreds of people gather in Aspen, Ireland or maybe even tiny Canouan Island for five days and four nights [read Julie’s recent blog] of snow or cliffs or sun, sand and fun after an awesome year.
But until then, we must be creative and innovative. We must reimagine the notion of incentives [as well as our upcoming fall business programs] and find ways to safely and wisely move business forward, build back sales and profitability, and recognize and reward high-achievers.
Here are four awesome examples of what your exciting, drive-in incentive might look like [see examples here]. Road trip!