It’s a common tradition for companies to celebrate reaching sales quotas with a fully paid "sales club'' trip to an exotic location. At places such as Oracle, SAP or Salesforce.com these trips are legendary. It’s a motivating incentive and winners love being rewarded for their success. But, as far back as I can remember, this tradition has been exclusively for sales guys.
I have spent much of my career in sales. As a rep, I loved these trips. But, as I took on broader responsibilities, I struggled with the concept.
What about the rest of the team that contributed so mightily to the company’s success? How about the marketing team’s contribution to growth? Developers and designers, support engineers and loyalty managers? They all make significant contributions to the company’s success, yet aren’t recognized in the club.
It was obvious to me that sales club had to go but I couldn't lose the camaraderie and motivation that resulted from it. What to do?
I got rid of Sales Club and replaced it with our inaugural Top 40 Performers Club, designed to reward contributions across the entire company. We’re interested in building a company culture of camaraderie and support for a team that’s constantly motivated to do their best. This means recognizing top performers in all areas. Here’s what we’ve learned.
Team leaders know their top performers. Selecting top sales performers has always been objective, based upon quantifiable metrics of sales and quota attainment. But how do you weigh successes in product and service or assign value to creativity versus lead generation?
Instead of trying to force a one-size-fits-all system that assesses an employee’s value, trust your leaders. We let each department hold its own selection process but we finalized the winners as an executive team. Different departments have different specific metrics. Each selected winners based on who represented the best-of-the-best and exemplified our core company values. Top performers from each department were awarded a spot in this year’s Top Performers Club.
Not everyone can get a trophy and that’s the point. “What about the other 90 percent, won’t it be demotivating?” was a common sentiment voiced by my co-workers. Top Performers Club is meant to be the exact opposite, to be motivation and recognition that incents everyone to reach for bigger and better results.
This is not an “everyone gets a trophy” type of club but, by including all departments in the process, we’re allowing everyone the opportunity for recognition in this way. Someone said me later, “I want to go next year. What do you think I need to do to go?”
Having this type of incentive in place for going above and beyond each year has the potential for immense impact across the entire company.
Sales cares about team too. Others were concerned how sales would view the Top Performers Club, since many fewer of them went, including several who had made their quota for the year.
It turns out, there was no need for concern. When we announced our Top 40 winners, reactions across the company were electric and celebrations were heartfelt. To see your engineers jumping up, high-fiving and hugging while the entire company cheered them on was amazing.
What really stuck out were the multiple sales guys who approached me after the ceremony and expressed how excited they were to finally celebrate with the other superstars who make them and our whole company successful. Yes, fewer sales guys got to go on the trip. The competition was tougher but, if you’ve built the right kind of company culture, your business isn’t tribal. It’s not sales versus marketing versus product. When you build a company that operates as a team, everyone celebrates success.
Over the past three decades, I’ve been blessed to be a part of several successful startups. That success only came through the efforts of extraordinary team members across the board: product, engineering, marketing, sales, finance. Recognizing and rewarding hard work is hugely meaningful on a company and individual level. It demonstrates appreciation, shows that work is valued and gives everyone something to strive for. Giving something tangible to work towards provides further incentive, motivation and fuel to push everyone to attain uncommon and extraordinary results.
This is why I did away with Sales Club and why you should consider doing the same.
Related: Effective Employee Reward Programs