by Leo Jakobson | May 22, 2013
Companies are offering larger incentive awards to in-house and channel salesforces than they did last year, according to the “Incentive 2013 Sales IQ Survey,” which was conducted from Feb. 27 to April 16.

On a per-recipient basis, spending on incentive sales programs rose faster in 2013 than it did last year. This year, 53.4 percent of the 349 respondents said that they spent more on each recipient than in the previous year; in 2012, that number was just 48.9 percent.

While the number of companies that increased spending less than 10 percent in 2013 was the largest group at 42.6 percent, that was up just 2 percent over 2012. The number of companies that increased per-recipient spending between 10 and 49 percent increased slightly to 7.9 percent, but those companies that increased their budgets by 50 percent or more nearly tripled, to 2.9 percent from 1 percent in 2012. Only 5.1 percent of respondents cut their per-recipient spending in 2013, compared to 6.6 percent in 2012. 

On the other hand, slightly fewer than 40 percent of the respondents said they increased their overall budgets. With nearly 54 percent of respondents increasing per-recipient budgets, there were also fewer incentive winners overall. Of the nearly 40 percent that did see budgets rise, more than half said that the reason was to increase sales growth. 

Also notable is that public perception issues seemed not to be a major factor. For the first time in five years, no respondents canceled a sales incentive program due to public perception issues, and fewer than 1 percent said that this led to budget cuts.
In terms of awards, merchandise remained the most popular award, with 46.9 percent of respondents using it in at least some programs. That was followed by retailer gift cards (39.9 percent), cash (31.1 percent), prepaid bank cards (25.9 percent), individual travel (24.6 percent) and group travel (23.2 percent). While experiential rewards were about half as popular as either travel type, about one-third more respondents used them in 2013 (12.3 percent) than in 2012 (8.9 percent).