by Leo Jakobson | June 06, 2014
A new study from the Incentive Research Foundation and research firm Aberdeen Group finds that best-in-class companies are nearly a third more likely to use non-cash incentives in their sales incentive programs.

Unveiled at the Incentive Research Foundation’s 21st Annual Invitational event last week, the study, Incenting Success: Best-in-Class Sales Management, finds that non-cash incentives like travel, merchandise and gift card awards are critical in getting the best performance out of sales teams.

The research compared companies with performance that was “best-in-class” (the top 20 percent) with ‘industry average’ (the next 50 percent) and “laggard” firms (the bottom 30 percent), and found that the best-in-class firms are 31 percent more likely to consider non-cash rewards a “must-have” for their sales incentive programs.

In addition, the study found that 76 percent of best-in-class companies use public recognition to motivate performance, compared with 62 percent of industry average corporations and just 55 percent of laggard firms.

The survey also found that while best-in-class companies value financial incentives highly — they spend 18 percent more overall compensating their salespeople than their competitors do — they are focusing less on cash as a motivator. In the current study, 76 percent of these best-in-class sales organizations called individual compensation a “top motivator,” compared to fully 98 percent last year.

The full study is available on the IRF website.