Maritz Travel Blog

Why Non-Cash Incentive Travel Rewards Are Your One-Way Ticket to Sales Growth

Few companies are completely satisfied with their sales performance. This holds true across various industries, geographies and markets. No matter what they’re selling, many sales leaders look at their sales numbers and are left wanting more.

So, how do you give them more?

Cash Incentives – Just Scratching the Surface

We know that a popular solution used to cajole both channel and internal sales teams into higher levels of performance has been to incentivize them with cash. Whether it comes in the form of a commission or if its added as a cash bonus for their increased performance, it’s the most widely used technique. Therefore, it’s likely you’re already employing this incentive model with your sales force.

But if the results of cash incentives for your sales team were enough to satisfy you, would you even have read this far? As it turns out, not all incentives are created equally, and you might be missing out on a serious performance increase within your sales force.

A recent study conducted by Maritz Motivation Solutions shows that 77% of channel and sales reps are more likely to sell a manufacturer’s product if offered an incentive to do so. So, if you’re incentivizing your sales team with cash, you’re already driving the behavior you want and reaping the benefit of a more motivated sales force, right?

However, the study also found that a staggering 94% of those sales members preferred non-cash incentives be included in their compensation.

This means that even if your current incentive structure is motivating that 77% to make a sale, the cash-only incentives you’re offering aren’t what your sales force wants. When it comes to sales incentives, you get what you give. Meaning, if you want a richer payout from your sales team, you need to motivate them with a richer incentive offering.

That richer offering is incentive travel for sales teams.

Why Incentive Travel is Hot (and Cash alone is Not)

We live in the experience economy. According to Mintel’s 2015 American Lifestyles Report, experiences (like vacations and dining out) are seeing the greatest spending gains across all generations.

Group incentive travel provides employees with unique career opportunities.  According to research from the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), the clear majority of program participants say that earning an incentive trip provides them with benefits they wouldn’t get with cash.

Face time with the company’s senior leadership. The chance to take their spouse on a paid vacation (without the headache of planning it). Time to connect and build relationships with other top-performing colleagues. And most importantly, incentive travel gives them an opportunity to have their hard work truly recognized.

6 Major Advantages of Non-Cash Incentive Travel Rewards Over Cash alone

There’s a lot of research that compares the impact of cash vs. non-cash rewards. Scott Jeffrey, arguably the top researcher on the subject, has conducted a series of studies on this topic. Based on that research, his conclusion is that non-cash rewards tend to be more effective and more motivating than just cash rewards. The research points to six main factors which determine why this is the case:

  1. Social Reinforcement – When other people know about your success, you get a strong feeling of social reinforcement. However, it’s often not considered acceptable to discuss cash rewards. That makes non-cash travel rewards a stronger motivator when it comes to social reinforcement.
  2. Memorability – When you receive a non-cash travel reward, you get to enjoy it after the fact. And, with something like an incentive trip, you’re building lasting memories that persist as a reminder of the reward long after the trip is over.
  3. Separability – Often, people place cash rewards in the same “mental account” as salary. This means they can come to expect that reward (like they expect their salary), which causes issues if the reward is removed. However, people think of non-cash rewards separately.
  4. Evaluability – When deciding whether to pursue an incentive, employees first must evaluate what an item is worth to them. Because non-cash rewards are more emotionally charged, employees tend to evaluate them higher. This is especially true considering that people tend to imagine best case scenarios when imagining themselves experiencing the award.
  5. Frequency of Thought – Research shows that people think about non-cash rewards more frequently, which contributes to higher performance and motivation.
  6. Justifiability – People tend to say they prefer cash because they think they should, especially because the purchase of luxury items often creates feelings of guilt. However, research shows that people are more motivated by non-cash rewards (including people that state they prefer cash!)

Your Sales Goals Aren’t Far Off Destinations

Every company wants to improve sales performance, and travel programs can play a critical role in doing just that. Companies who leverage both travel incentive and cash recognition programs see the most benefits in client retention, incremental revenue and increased market share.

Want to know how to build your own incentive travel program? Wondering which sales goals incentive travel can help you achieve? Learn all you need to know in our latest whitepaper “Using Incentive Travel To Motivate Your Sales Force.”

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