Motivation Masters: Kimberly-Clark Professional Is in the Zone
By Leo Jakobson
Photo by Chris Hamilton
January 15, 2013
Julie Samsel, KCPzone channel manager
In 2012, there were many compelling entries for
Incentive's Fourth Annual Motivation Masters Awards. The
programs, which took place between January 1, 2011 and March
31, 2012, covered a wide range of incentive disciplines, from
internal sales and employee engagement to channel sales
This year's Grand Motivation Master Award winner was the
KCPzone, a successful web- and mobile-based channel sales and
loyalty program for distributor sales representatives (DSRs)
who resell commercial washroom, industrial wiping, and safety
products. The program is run by Kimberly-Clark Professional*
(KCP), the B2B arm of the Kimberly-Clark Corporation, maker of
well-known consumer brands such as Kleenex, Cottonelle, and
The KCPzone encompasses more than just a channel sales program,
however. It is a one-stop shop for DSRs seeking marketing
materials to use with their own customers; product information
and training tools; and information about product promotions.
By making sales and taking online product training,
participating DSRs earn points redeemable for KCPzone-branded
stored-value gift cards and individual travel awards.
Launched in 2011, the KCPzone has proven to be a game-changer
for KCP, which has seen a 40 percent increase in DSR sales
claims for five consecutive quarters; 157 percent growth in new
business from 2011 to 2012; and a triple-digit return on its
initial investment. The KCPzone has also been a work in
progress. A relaunch that took place toward the end of 2011
added gamification and social media tools.
"I would say the KCPzone is having a very positive effect on
our business," says Julie Samsel, the Dallas-based firm's
KCPzone channel manager. She adds, "2012 is going to be the
best year ever in the history of KCP from a financial
perspective" - despite the challenging economy.
More Than Rewards
"We had three initial goals when launching the KCPzone," Samsel
says. "To make it easier to do business with KCP, to drive
engagement, and to reward loyal behavior." Samsel notes that
DSRs have a lot of discretion over which of the brands that
they carry and put in front of the end-user client - especially
in the cleaning and hygiene products area, a high
inventory-turnover market. The point, she adds, is to turn DSRs
into "advocates talking up our brand, saying how great KCP is,"
she says. "We want them to be resistant to competitive offers.
We want them selling our products all day long, every day, looking for opportunities for us."
To do that, her firm turned to St. Louis-based Maritz
Motivation Solutions and Charles Purvis, senior client advisor.
KCP and Maritz decided to create an incentive program "built
around the participant experience of the distributor sales rep
that would have huge potential to shift [market] share," says
Purvis. A first step was making the KCPzone website a "place of
engagement," he says, where DSRs could connect with the KCP
brand. "You do things like provide everything that a DSR needs
to be successful at selling KCP products in the KCPzone - as
kind of a table stake," he says. "That also scratches the itch
of 'make it easy to do business,' because the resource center
is where you can easily get sell sheets, downloadable
presentations, and things like that."
The KCPzone sales rewards program is points based, with rewards
redeemable for either a reloadable "filtered" gift card that
can be used at some 200 specially selected merchants or for
individual travel awards arranged by Maritz Travel. The
filtered card provides a "brand experience that offers trophy
value," says Purvis. "You're not using it at a grocery store
and it doesn't disappear into your wallet." DSRs also earn
points for training, closing new accounts, and for joint sales
calls with their KCP sales reps, which gives the company a
connection to the end-user customer that it often doesn't have,
Adding Gamification and Community
As research shows how powerful gamification is, companies like KCP have been adding it into their programs more aggressively. One key,
Purvis says, is not incorporating gamification tools just for gamification's sake. "Identify high-value actions that you want
the participants to take and you make it easier or more
enticing for them to take those actions," he says.
Since the 2011 KCPzone relaunch, DSRs have been able to work
their way up three tiers: the base blue level, then silver and
gold. Silver-level DSRs earn more points for each sale or other
action. At the gold level, DSRs receive an iPad and earn even
To ensure that DSRs checked out the new site and its features,
KCP created a navigation challenge. Purvis says, "It was kind
of a scavenger hunt. We would plant icons on pages we wanted to
make sure DSRs got to. They would collect the icons, win
recognition, and win some points."
A photo contest awarded bonus points to any DSR who sent in
photos of themselves, their friends, or family using rewards
acquired with KCPzone points, Samsel says. Images included
people on fishing boats, eating at restaurants, and even
showing off remodeled homes. The five photos voted the best
earned more points. "The value of this is twofold," Samsel
says. "One, it's fun for DSRs - the whole competitive piece
with the voting - but it also inspires other DSRs who are maybe
not as engaged or involved."
Beyond that, it's a step toward creating a community. "It gives
DSRs the sense that they are part of something that's not just
them, that there are other smart DSRs who are actively engaged
in this thing," Purvis notes.
Online forums where DSRs can interact with each other and with
KCP sales reps are also being developed. "If you think of the
power, and the force-multiplier of an online community, versus
a couple of DSRs talking in the break lounge at their
distributorship, then you get a glimmer of what we see as being
possible," Purvis says.
Creating an Advocate
While KCP pays competitive commissions, Samsel says that the
KCPzone's ultimate goal is to build a sense of loyalty that
goes beyond a "show-me-the-money" attitude. A win with a DSR
who brought in a large research university account last year
provides a good example of what a community of advocates means,
"Before the KCPzone, this DSR was solely a Georgia-Pacific guy,
our main competitor," Samsel says. "After hearing about the
program at a sales meeting, this DSR said, 'Hey, I'm going to
check this out and see what it's all about,'" she says. "So, he
started selling Kimberly-Clark. Now he only sells
Kimberly-Clark. His old Georgia-Pacific sales reps were
breaking down his doors to try and get into this account. They
were flying people out from headquarters, offering him more
money in cash than he was going to make in points on the
KCPzone. And yet, he still turned them down."
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2012 Motivation Masters Category WinnersSales Incentives: M&T Bank
With only one quarter of its 250 financial advisors meeting their goals, M&T Bank worked with incentive house MotivAction to see how much productivity could be jammed into one 10-week period if motivated by an aggressive, non-cash incentive program. In just five selling weeks, M&T met 95 percent of its annual sales goals, achieving an ROI of 19:1.
Engagement and Recognition: Assurant
Assurant, a provider of specialty insurance products, turned to Anderson Performance Improvement to
create a flexible, online recognition tool that uses e-cards, spot recognition awards, and tiered, points-based awards. In two years, more than 7,500 awards were handed out, along with 7,000 e-cards.
Satisfaction survey scores have grown by 6 percent.