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The Motivation Agency Blog

Incentives Aren’t A New Idea!

19 January 2021 14:02:41 GMT / by Hugh Lawson

I have been listening to a great friend of mine, who works in sales (and as we all know 2020 has not been brilliant for retail and business sales). Over the last couple of months, huge pressure has been applied to the sales team to close business for the year end and this is not landing well, as there is no incentive to do so (positive recognition/reward), just a daily rant and a weekly name and shame on calls, appointments (virtual) and orders.

Jeans 3

This got me thinking back to my first job as a school leaver at the tender age of 16, when I worked on Broad Street, Reading in a jeans shop. Back then we had to write the sales on a sales sheet with a carbon copy under with the initials of the salesperson at the end to work out commissions.

I was literally only a couple of months into the job, when the Area Manager came in and introduced a very simple weekly incentive (which he paid out of his own pocket).

Here’s how it worked:

If you sell one item in a transaction – No Stars

If you sell two items in a transaction – 1 Star

If you sell three items in a transaction – 2 Stars

Four sales – 3 Stars / Five sales – 4 Stars … ETC, ETC

So, when we sold linked purchases, the cashier would put a * for two sales, ** for three sales and so on, on to the sales sheet, this would then be visually verified by matching it to the Till Roll. Each salesperson was then told how many sticky stars they could put on the weekly chart (in the staff room), which we updated every day. Very simple and no financial limits.

The easiest sale was a pair of jeans (£12.99) and then suggest a leather belt (back in the day, they were 99p!!) or sometimes a T-Shirt (£1.99).

At the end of the week the salesperson with the most stars was rewarded with an LP token (ask your parents!!) for the value of £5. The Saturday staff were also included and the highest stars on the day got a singles token for £1.50

As crazy as this may sound, I remember that in the first week our branch increased its sales by an amazing 12%, which incredibly grew to over 20% within the month!

This was Summer 1976 – High Street Retail – ‘Different times’ I hear you say, well maybe, but why did it work?

It links into the five key questions that we at The Motivation Agency ask:

1 - What are you asking me to do? – Sell more product

2 - Why are you asking me to do it? – To increase sales/profit

3 - How do I do it? – Sell linked products by asking an additional question.

4 - How am I doing? – We have a chart in the staff room, which is updated daily.

5 - What’s in it for me? – LP/Single tokens

Back to the title … Incentives aren’t a new idea, but if done right, really work!

And now, POS technology, mobile apps and electronic reward systems mean we can track and reward seamlessly, most importantly we can celebrate team members' achievements publicly even when not everyone is on the sales floor.

I still believe that the more people you talk to, the more people will buy from you. It really doesn’t matter about the climate we are working in, ask a question, offer a solution/suggestion, you just might be amazed at the reply

Hugh Lawson

Written by Hugh Lawson