Motivation Masters

Motivation Master Winners: Channel Partner Programs

June 25, 2010

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Company Name:
Sealy/Simmons – Ashley Furniture

Award or Motivator:
Merchandise and Travel

Program Name: 
Dream Rewards



A multibillion-dollar home furnishings manufacturer (Sealy/Simmons) sells its products through 400 retail partner stores (Ashley Furniture). The stores in turn sell through their retail sales associates (RSAs). The RSAs are compensated by a combination of salary, commission and spiffs. The cash spiffs given for selling higher margin products were typically ignored by the RSAs. Performance Plus Marketing (PPM) was hired to rattle the cages of the RSAs and get them excited about selling premium bedding. The cash spiffs that were being offered were not delivering the desired behavior. At the end of the day the cash spiff structure did not move the needle in terms of revenue or units sold. The specific goals of the program were:

1. Increase the sales of premium bedding by 2% – 3%.

2. Register and engage in the program 2500 participants.


Looking at the demographic PPM designed a program filled with awards that a participant could only dream of owning and rarely got the opportunity to purchase like cars, trips to Europe, a 50” plasma TV. Research shows that people work harder for things they want versus what they need.

The Dream Rewards Program was paid for with the funds previously used to pay cash incentives so there was no incremental cost to the bottom line to fund the program. The program consisted of two parts the first part focused on the store’s owner/manager. Each owner/manager was assigned a monthly sales goal based on an increase over the prior year’s sales. Each month the goal was adjusted based on the previous year. Owner/Managers were able to track their actual sales on the Dream Reward’s website via a dashboard. If the goal was reached or exceeded reward points were deposited into the owner/manager’s account which could them be redeemed for travel, merchandise and gift cards.

The second part of the program focused on the RSAs. For 42 days at a time (a heat) RSAs were encouraged to enter qualifying invoices (those that included premium bedding) online through the Dream Reward’s website. Each day one or several awards were given to RSAs who had entered their qualifying invoices. Some days PPM would award a car other days it might be 20 iPods. Each day by 10:00 AM the winners were announced on the Dream Rewards website. Although the RSAs knew which awards were going to be given away during the 42 day heat they did not know on any particular day what would be awarded or how many awards would be given out. Every once in awhile a big award would be announced to build the excitement even further.

To roll out the program PPM created a training module for the manufactures sales reps so they could help to deliver the program message and goals. Then a DVD was produced to send to all of the stores to explain the program to owner/managers and RSAs. The DVD featured an actor filmed at one of the stores emphasizing the simplicity of the program and how to enter sales online. Finally, posters featuring both awards and the website information was sent to each store to be posted in the break rooms. The program’s website not only accepted qualified sales it also allowed RSAs to ask questions and comment on the program.



1. A 9% increase in premium bedding sales vs. the desired 2% - 3%.

2. Participation was 117% of target with 3396 participants registered and engaged in the program.




Company Name:    
 John Deere Holdings - Russia

Program Name:     
Perform and Win, John Deere Holdings Inc.-Russia

Award or Motivator: 


In 2008, John Deere Holdings, Inc. – Russia had an aggressive goal to drive increases in their Russian dealer channel by 20% over the previous year in sales of John Deere Agricultural Complete Goods. MotivAction has over 29 years of experience developing and implementing effective incentive travel programs for the global Deere Enterprise; and because of that long-standing relationship was engaged to deliver this key program. John Deere has approximately 38 single location dealerships, located mainly in Western Russia. With the goal of generating increased sales, MotivAction set out to develop an incentive travel program which would not only motivate but also provide the positive, quantifiable results that John Deere has come to expect.

The challenges inherent in this particular program were that the Russia-based dealers spoke little or no English. Developing a travel program which successfully tackled this language barrier, along with the stringent visa/passport requirements of Russian nationals, would be essential.


Some unique challenges were inherent in this program:

Challenge: Time Zone Differences MotivAction is located in Minneapolis operating on Central Standard Time. The client was based in Moscow, nine hours ahead. Participants were located from regions throughout Western Russia. MotivAction team members made themselves available to the client, vendors and participants outside of regular business hours to aid in planning and registration.

Challenge: Non-English speaking participants Many of the trip participants had little international travel experience and needed assistance securing visas. All pre-trip communication materials (group registration website, itineraries) as well as on-site hotel and cruise literature (safety information, menus, agendas), were available in Russian. Private shore excursions were arranged with Russian translators, and menus were designed with their particular palates in mind. Russian-speaking representatives assisted attendees from Moscow and back, every step of the way.

Challenge: Timely arrivals and departures With 68 participants coming from Russia, it was of utmost importance that pre-and post-hotel accommodations were available to ensure participants arrived and departed comfortably and on time. Passengers arrived in Moscow on February 14 and were met by a Russian speaking staff member who traveled with them. They enjoyed a night at the Radisson SAS Slavyanskaya Hotel before departing on Iberia Airlines for Miami, Florida. Following arrival in Miami, attendees were whisked away to the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort, known for its 16 acres of unique beachside luxury, for a welcome reception. On February 15, attendees embarked upon the Regent Seven Seas Navigator, selected for its unequaled level of distinctive appointments and intriguing ports of call. Following the cruise on February 23, all attendees enjoyed an exciting day of shopping in Miami Beach, followed by a Gala Reception and Recognition Dinner evoking the area’s golden era at the Fontainebleau Hotel where they stayed before departing for Moscow on February 24. From start to finish, all promotional and communications pieces reflected the colorful and welcoming spirit of Florida and the Caribbean.


As a result of this program, 60% of their dealers qualified for the award by increasing the sales of John Deere products over the previous year by at least 20%. This created a 97% increase in their total Russian agricultural dealer channel over the previous year, greatly exceeding their original expectations of 20%. This increase can be directly attributed to the program, as well as an increase in market demand.



Company Name: 
Family Heritage Life Insurance   

Award or Motivator:                  

Mix of Travel, Merchandise, Cash


Recently, Family Heritage revamped its sales incentive program to focus on long-term sustainable growth. Until the change, many of the company’s incentives focused on short term incentives. Family Heritage decided to design its incentives around the activities that would help the company achieve its goal of aggressive but maintainable sales growth. These new incentives were targeted at rewarding the sales force for their recruiting of new sales representatives, training, and high quality sales. In developing these incentives, input from the sales force was solicited. At the National Meetings, the company’s top sales representatives and sales directors were sought out for their ideas on what behaviors should be rewarded and recognized and what kinds of rewards would be the most impactful. The resulting program was based, in large part, on that input.


Family Heritage rewards its sales force through a combination of long-term and short-term incentives. This allows the company to focus the sales organizations on activities that will create sustainable growth while continuing to aggressively grow the business today. Three pieces of the incentive program focus on long-term growth.

The first is the stock option incentive. Company stock options are earned by the sales force based on the volume of sales, and the value of stock is dependent on growth.

The second element of the incentive program directed at long-term sustainable growth focuses sales management on growing the size of the sales force. While incentives based solely on sales volume can motivate a sales force to sell more, that effort is generally short-lived. For this bonus, the number of selling man-weeks is tracked for each sales manager. Sizeable bonuses can be earned by sales managers who are recruiting and training new insurance agents. In fact, one sales manager is on track to earn a bonus of $200,000 in 2009 on top of his regular commissions.

The third incentive that is focused on the long-term is the field training bonus. The company has determined that a well trained agent is more likely to stay for the long term if he\she is well trained. Sales managers are paid a bonus whenever field training is conducted for a new agent. Short-term incentives are still part of the mix but they typically focus the sales force on periodically stretching themselves so that they realize that they are capable of more. Some cash awards are used as well as travel incentives, branded attire, and jewelry. One of the most popular incentives is charitable giving. During certain periods of the year, the company will make donations to selected charities (such as American Cancer Society, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, etc.) based on sales levels. The company frequently has record sales weeks during the weeks when charities are being supported.


The new incentive program was introduced in time to impact 2007 results. The company achieved a twenty percent sales growth in that year. The program was modified and enhanced for 2008 and the company achieved a ten percent sales growth, despite a weakening economy. The company has further modified the program for 2009 and is achieving sales growth, despite very weak economic conditions.


Carlson Hotels Worldwide

Program Name:

The Looking Good Sweepstakes

Award or Motivator: 
Merchandise and Travel


Carlson Hotels Worldwide (CHW) wanted to reinvigorate its trailblazing, patented channel marketing program for travel agents, looktobook®. Carlson Marketing has provided varying levels of marketing strategy, design and operational support for this program since 1992. The main goal of this global incentive program is to motivate agents to book stays at CHW branded properties. CHW is one of the world's largest hotel companies, operating 1,000 properties under five major hotel brands in over 70 countries. The brands include the prestige of Regent Hotels & Resorts®, the award-winning Country Inns & Suites By Carlson, Radisson Hotels, Park Plaza Hotels, and Park Inn. The looking good sweepstakes promotion was designed to support the overall program objective of increased hotel bookings with a tantamount objective to acquire new agents and promote the new program web site.


To help build excitement around the new era of looktobook®, travel agents in the United States could participate in a sweepstakes October 25, 2008 through January 15, 2009. Entries into the sweepstakes were awarded for every third booking of a Carlson-branded property or active participation in an online game promoting Carlson-branded hotels across the world. Sweepstakes awards included targeted, coveted items such as ipods, Blue Ray DVD players, Prepaid Cards, and GPS systems. The grand prize winner was awarded a Saturn VUE Hybrid.

Sweepstakes Merchandise was selected for its broad appeal, promotability, past redemption history and the demographics of this audience. The overall looktobook program awards mix includes Prepaid Visa® and MasterCard®cards and retail gift cards (i.e. Target, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Pottery Barn, Home Depot and Kohl’s).


Sweepstakes messaging piqued audience interest evident through the 39% click through rate (vs. overall program at 15%). The email sent to a list purchase audience (non-looktobook® members) had a 19% open rate (vs. overall program at 13%). The Sweepstakes promotion resulted in a 5% increase in new members. Overall looktobook® program analysis indicates that behavior-based promotions and communications generate the best response and the most incremental revenue creating more earnings and redemption. We can share that we issued nearly 30,000 cards in four regions in 2008. This demonstrates that the prepaid cards are a desired choice by many members and is one of the top redemption items in the program.

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