by Leo Jakobson | November 20, 2014


Company: Information Builders
Provider: Engagement Partners
Dates: Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2013

A leading business intelligence software and services company with revenues of more than $300 million, Information Builders (IBI) turned to Engagement Partners to develop an array of incentive programs targeting both its direct sales and sales support employees, who together number more than 600.

IBI's team deals with complex sales that require the expertise, teamwork, and considerable energy of many internal and external sales and support people. IBI ran five contests in 2013 -- three for its various sales reps and managers, two for key non-sales personnel, including system engineers, technical account managers, and solution architects. All awarded points were redeemable for merchandise fulfilled by Hinda Incentives, except for the signature Quota Club, an incentive travel program to St. Kitts in the British Virgin Islands. 

IBI's major sales contest is the Great North American Q4 Countdown-to-Quota!, which actually has eight sub-contests, including several for individual account executives, managers, and executives, as well as top sales region and area contests, and programs for partner and alliance managers and the telemarketers who set up appointments for account executives. These programs primarily use points, with award values ranging from $200 to $5,000, although a number of them also include participation in the annual Quota Club trip.

A second sales contest was for executives who make close deals via a new sales tool, getting customers to participate in a Data Quality Challenge. This was primarily aimed at raising the  "buzz" about the new tool. An area- and region-based contest launched to encourage employees to register customers to attend IBI's annual Summit Worldwide Users Conference. The two non-sales contests focused on presenting at user groups and creating materials that help close sales.

IBI exceeded its goals in all five contests, and attributes its 20-percent increase in customer wins and record revenue to the program. The company -- which as a business intelligence firm tends to put more effort into demonstrating ROI than most companies -- says the overall ROI of the five incentive programs is more than 200 percent. Even when using very conservative assumptions, individual programs were credited with an ROI of up to 775 percent.


Company: WinWholesale
Provider: ITA Group
Dates: Ongoing

WinWholesale is a wholesaler of plumbing, electric, HVAC, industrial, and waterworks products operating through 550 local firms in which the company and a local partner share ownership. In 2010, WinWholesale turned to ITA Group to create the ProRewards contractor loyalty program, a channel sales incentive created in response to the recession, which hit the building industry particularly hard. By 2013, 300 of the company's 550 Win Local Companies were participating.

ProRewards is primarily a points-based incentive program for customer contractors selected annually by participating Win Local Company presidents. Each customer gets a stretch goal (set at the local level) and a base goal calculated by WinWholesale, which is always more than that contractor's previous year's purchases. Points can be redeemed from a catalog of more than 10,000 merchandise items, travel awards, and charitable giving opportunities as soon as the base goal is hit; contractors begin accruing double points after hitting their stretch goal. Extra points are earned by purchasing goods made by the sponsoring manufacturers that partner with WinWholesale on the program. For the 2014 year, a pair of incentive travel programs has been added, one with a 12-month qualification period and another with an 18-month period. 

There is an extensive communications program, both for participating Win Local Company members and for them to provide to their own participating contractors. This includes paper materials along with the website and email communications to reach contractors who are mostly out in the field.

Results are measured by ROI calculated down to the individual customer, and by increased market share. The latter number is based on comparing sales results from participating contractors who complete a self-enrollment process with those who were invited to but did not. In 2013, the program's ROI was 487 percent, driven by a 55 percent increase in sales by enrolled customers -- whose average purchase was 235 percent higher than that of non-enrolled participants. Previously participating contractors who had not been invited to enroll again in 2013 still purchased 12 percent more than those who had never enrolled - what ITA Group calls a "halo effect" of the program.

In 2013, there were 29 manufacturers who sponsored the program at one of the four levels available. Those manufacturers' average sales to enrolled contractors was $27,278, compared to $11,161 to non-enrolled contractors. Assuming a 25-percent profit margin on those products -- WinWholesale is not privy to the actual numbers -- the sponsors' ROI averaged out at nearly 12 to one.

Company: Fortune 500 Financial Institution
Provider: ITA Group
Dates: Ongoing

In its 10th year, this incentive program that ITA Group created for a financial institution with revenues in excess of $20 billion targets the finance and insurance managers of auto, recreational vehicle, and marine dealerships, and is still showing strong results.

The program, which replaced cash incentives with a points-based program using a catalog of merchandise, segments dealership into three tiers based on the previous year's loan production, and assigns a goal based on that production. There are monthly awards as well as bonus points at three funding levels. To keep successful participants pushing hard throughout the year, double points are awarded once the goal in reached. Online game plays for bonus points are available monthly after reaching a specified loan volume.

Regular, ongoing communication is considered to be a vital part of this program, which has won a MarCom Award from the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals for each of the past three years. The merchandise awards available for redemption are another important feature, with more than 90 percent of participants saying they are satisfied or very satisfied with the selection. In addition, top tier performers have access to personal shoppers who can work with them to use the points for virtually anything -- among the awards redeemed with these points are college tuition, all construction costs of a home "man cave," and even a restored '67 Mustang.

Enrolled dealers outperform non-enrolled ones by a two-to-one margin, a number that has remained steady over the years. Over the previous nine years, that amounted to more than $9.5 billion in loan business. In addition, 89 percent of enrolled dealers say the program has motivated them to increase loan volume, and the client satisfaction rating is 95 percent.

Company: American Honda Finance Corporation
Provider:  Maritz Motivation Solutions
Dates: July 1, 2013 - Dec. 31, 2013

The American Honda Finance Corporation's Honda Financial Services (HFS) department worked with Maritz Motivation Solutions on the Set Your Sights on Cabo incentive travel program, which targeted dealer principals in 1,038 Honda and 275 Acura dealerships.

The goal was to increase sales of specific HFS financial and service contracts during the second half of 2013. Participating dealership were ranked in two ways and could qualify in either program. One ranked them by region, with the top three dealerships in each of eight regions making the cut. The second divided participants into groups according to the previous year's sales volume, enabling smaller dealerships to have a shot at qualifying.

The program relied on an aggressive and creative communications strategy, which augmented traditional methods like print and email with some creative, interactive mailings. The trip took them on a five-day, four-night trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico's five-star Esperanza, an Auberge Resort.

The program saw winning dealerships significantly out-perform non-winners in a variety of categories, ranging from penetration percentage to vehicle sales. The winning dealerships' new vehicle sales were three times higher than non-winners in both the Honda and Acura brands. The trip "exceeded expectations" for 85 percent of the winners.

Company: Leading Auto Manufacturer
Provider: Aimia
Dates: March 1, 2013 - Oct. 1, 2013

A leading auto manufacturer has been working with loyalty management firm Aimia on its Elegant Escapes incentive travel program targeting the top 300 principals and general managers of its dealerships for more than 20 years. The program offers top performers and a guest one of five high-end incentive trips each year. For the 2013 program there was a choice of trips to Hawaii, Italy, France, Tahiti, and South Africa/Zambia. The program's goals were to meet Toyota's three-month sales goals and to focus the dealerships on both sales and overall customer satisfaction ratings.

A communications program helped obtain a 98-percent enrollment rate, and regular emails provided dealership standings, destination information, and program updates to keep the program top-of-mind.

The programs are intended to be "once-in-a-lifetime" trips. The South Africa trip included animal interactions with elephants and lion cubs at an animal rescue center, a stay at a safari camp in Kruger National Park, and a visit to neighboring Zambia to see the world-famous Victoria Falls.  

As for results, 73 percent of the Elegant Escapes program's participants met or exceeded their sales goals, and nearly 60 percent went to dealerships that had not won in the previous year. The trips got excellent survey results from participants, with 96 percent of participants rating the South Africa trip a five out of five.

Company: Subaru of America
Provider: Aimia
Dates: Ongoing

Subaru of America has been working with loyalty management firm Aimia on the Subaru Chairman's Round Table incentive travel program for more than a quarter century. The program targets the top 25 dealers, as well as the top dealership in each of the company's 12 U.S. zones, even if they don't make the top 25. This helps prevent the winners from being too dominated by the Northeast, Rocky Mountain, and Northwest regions where Subarus are most popular.

The program requires more than selling the most cars, although clearly sales volume is a very important factor. Winners must also qualify in several categories, which include the dealership's facility qualifying as a "signature facility," as well as meeting goals for mechanical parts sales, and its penetration level of Subaru Added Security contracts, an extended warranty program.

The award for 2013 winners was a trip to the Capella Pedregal resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. While the trip is generally kept casual, with plenty of networking time, Aimia worked with Subaru on a number of techniques to encourage the attendees to spend more time together in what were essentially teambuilding activities, such as a guacamole-making contest and volleyball tournament.

The trip also included several experiential awards of merchandise onsite, including a Bose lounge where participants were able to try out different Bose electronics products and select one, which was sent to their home along with a personal note of congratulations from the chairman and CEO, and president and COO, of Subaru of America. On another day, a "Hat Boutique" was set up, with attendees able to choose from a variety of styles and sizes.

Surveys have shown that the attendees gave both the program and the reward trip very high marks.