Online Incentives In Sales Overdrive

By Malcolm Fleschner

Eight years ago, when John Carlan and a colleague started Javelin Technologies, a CAD/CAM software reseller based in Ontario, Canada, he never imagined he’d be spending his evenings at home on the sofa poring over reports and trying – often unsuccessfully – to track the company’s incentive programs. Eventually, he says, he just got fed up.

“We have 30 people overall with about a dozen salespeople,” he explains. “While running these incentive programs I found the administration to be difficult. In fact, keeping everything straight was a nightmare. As an owner-operator I have a lot on my plate. As a result, I was making a lot of mistakes and simply not keeping track. We’ve always been committed to running incentive programs, but this frustration became the driver that pushed us to find someone else to look after the reporting.”

That someone else turned out to be SalesDriver, a subsidiary of the Carlson Marketing Group and one of the premier online incentive solutions providers. Carlan says that after opting for a SalesDriver solution in 2004, he discovered that in addition to easing the crippling administrative burden, the online program offers greater flexibility in prizes than he could ever have delivered on his own.

“There’s a limit to what you can do when you run programs yourself,” he says. “You can’t get that creative. You can give cash bonuses, trips or prizes, but those awards can get stale fast. What’s nice about SalesDriver is that they get people involved in the contests by offering credits that can be used to get whatever the participants want. So if someone’s not interested in the trip for two to Las Vegas, but really wants a new home theater setup, then the incentive works because that’s what that rep can choose to work toward.”

Carlan also raves about how the communication tools accompanying the online program actually help salespeople motivate themselves. “The online program made it much easier for me to distribute information and keep people informed,” he says. “The Website is helpful because I don’t have to push stuff out to the salespeople. They know they can find scoreboards there and that they can do their shopping ahead of time to figure out what they want. Once they get their login and navigate the site, they know where to go to get the scoreboard and stats. What we found was that people were getting pumped up just by surfing around the Website. You don’t have to tell them anything.”

Ease of administration and improved communications are terrific results, of course, but the bottom line is always measured by the figure next to the dollar sign. Carlan reports a positive result there as well. “We focused our summer sales program on the months of July and August when a lot of people here in Canada go on vacation,” he says. “It’s a time when there’s often a dip in sales. With this program in place we tripled our software license sales and doubled our gross margin compared with the same timeframe the year before. We know that the incentive plan had a lot to do with that. So unquestionably we had a very good outcome.”

In the past Javelin Technologies might have been delighted with such results and not wanted to tweak a successful program. But with all the tools SalesDriver offers, Carlan says, there’s no way he’s going to rest on his incentive program laurels.

“We feel there are things we’ve done well and other areas where we can still improve,” he explains. “We’re definitely going to learn from some of the things we did with our 2004 program to evolve our 2005 program. Evolving should be part of the plan from the beginning anyway. By investing the time to monitor how things are working, you can make sure the program remains relevant and makes sense for what you’re trying to achieve from a goals standpoint. The folks at SalesDriver have been helpful with advice for us and I’m sure they will continue to offer great advice.”

For more information on SalesDriver, visit