A Masterful Performance
Aspen Marketing Services created a sales training incentive for mobile handset maker Motorola took the top spot in the First Annual Motivation Masters Awards
By Leo Jakobson
June 25, 2010
The winner of Incentive’s Motivation Master of the Year award for 2009 is…Motorola and Aspen Marketing Services for “Motorola and Sprint Training Incentive,” a program designed to increase both the sale of Motorola mobile phone handsets in Sprint Nextel stores and the number of salespeople in those stores who complete training about the latest Motorola models.
Motorola’s goal was to have 20 percent of the slightly more than 5,000 eligible Sprint sales reps in three targeted regions actively participate. In fact, nearly 1,850 completed the three training modules and associated role playing exercises, passed the tests with a score of 80 percent, and met their sales quota—better than 36 percent. And Motorola sold 150 percent more handsets to Sprint customers during the three months the program ran then they did in the previous quarter—nearly 2,000 more sales in all.
First and foremost, the channel sales/training program was a winner because it was creative, says Mark Wollney, executive vice president of digital, for Aspen Marketing Services. “You’ve got to break through the clutter,” Wollney says. “There are a lot of marketing messages to these sales reps on a daily basis.”
Drawing on the fact that both Sprint and Motorola are partners of the National Football League, that the incentive program took place during 2008-9 football season, and that football was a good fit for the demographic of the sales reps, Aspen Marketing wrapped the contest in a Super Bowl XLIII theme. This climaxed in a grand prize drawing for all Sprint reps who passed the training and their sales quotas for a trip for two to the Super Bowl. Other prizes included SuperBowl tailgate party packages for eligible Sprint stores—those in which 100 percent of the sales team successfully completed the training—and $50 NFL.com gift cards.
Aspen Marketing created an online locker room as the program’s home on the Web site which was high end, using plenty of rich media. “The training was a pep talk before they go onto the field,” Wollney says. “It is telling them, ‘What I need to do to win.’ It was informative, but lively and fun. Football speaks to the competitive nature of the sales reps—they are going up against other reps.”
Aspen Marketing worked with both Motorola and its partner, Sprint, to market the program and deliver the frequent communications. Posters were put up in break rooms to constantly remind participants of the program and the prizes they could earn. Aside from emails, there was a program banner and link on the Sprint intranet, and on the “Sprint View” of the company’s own my.motorola.com Web site for retail sales staff of its partners—aimed at raising awareness, keeping the program top-of-mind, and to incite competition among sales reps. There were more then 26,000 hits on the program’s Web page.
Store managers were also eligible for the program, but their goal was to have 100 percent of their reps take and pass the training. “We want the sales managers to have skin in the game,” Wollney says.
Motorola also ensured that the educational material included some more general sales training as well as the details of its own products. And the training was designed to be taken in short snippets, during sales lulls. Of the roughly 1,850 active participants, only six did not complete the training portion successfully.
“It is giving Sprint managers additional tools in their playbook to make their stores successful,” Wollney says. The tailgate kits—containing NFL-themed cups, napkins, plates, and serving dishes, an Astroturf table cloth and inflatable cooler, and a $200 gift card to buy food and soft drinks—awarded to the top nine eligible stores, “were designed to help managers rally their team,” he adds. “We work together, we win together, and we tailgate together.”
Seeding Motorola Products
While football was the theme of this program, football themed awards were largely secondary. The main prizes were Motorola products. Seeding one of the 150 Motorola handsets or 450 Motorola Bluetooth headsets in the hands of the sales force was a separate but key goal of the program, Wollney says.
“Seeding phones in the hands of the sellers is what it’s all about,” he adds. Aspen Marketing and Motorola have found that seeding phones and accessories to the reps is a proven way to boost sales, for a variety of reasons. For one thing, employees who earn or win products during a sales incentive associate those products with the pride of their accomplishment; for another, sales reps are more likely to succeed in selling a product that they use themselves.
On top of that, he adds, modern phones—particularly rich-media-capable smart phones—are complex, and even with product training, sales reps are most familiar with the handsets they use themselves every day, and so are better able to educate consumers on what the features of the phone are, and what it can do, Wollney says.
“A lot of times, a buyer will ask sales reps, ‘What phone did you buy?’” Wollney says. “The reps take out a Motorola, and the customer is reassured.”
“Once you are set with how to use a phone, once you know it, it is hard to switch,” he adds. “You may upgrade to the next model, but you’ll ask yourself, ‘Why change?’”
The Motorola and Sprint Training Incentive is a program that is extremely versatile. It has been used to solve a number of marketing challenges in the past. “Last year we did about 32,” Wollney says, for all mobile service carriers. “They are going pretty much constantly, and we run different programs at different times.”
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That can be around a product launch, or when the company thinks a handset has not gotten enough attention in the marketplace, or when a product that was exclusive to one carrier for a time becomes more widely available.
As for Aspen Marketing’s role in the program, Wollney says his company has been working with Motorola since 2002. “We are a one-stop shop,” he says. “We do the creative, the marketing, build the Web site and run the program. We also bring the ROI element. We track each program in real time, watch it day to day—we may even change the creative. That is part of our regular client communications.”