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President’s Club in the Age of COVID

Travis Kassay | July 29, 2020| 1 min. read

Give the impact of the global pandemic in the first half of 2020, few companies were able to deliver on their President’s Club event in Jan/Feb and many pushed their events out to a (preliminary) later date this year. As you plan for the second half of the year, President’s Club is probably the last thing on your mind, but its important to keep your sales team focused on driving growth and this means recognizing those reps that deliver exceptional results in turbulent times.  

To recap the rationale for PClub from our blog in December: Each sales person’s motivation is unique, and while the financial incentives for overperformance are significant and motivate many, a President’s Club award that comes with recognition and a unique prize also provides motivation. The concept is that the contest is meaningful enough that it can drive the behavior of high performing and highly compensated reps and encourage them to go above and beyond their normal performance expectations. When deployed well, PClub can have a material impact on the overall performance of the company and it gives all reps, not just those that win, a goal to strive for.

Given that a traditional Club event, or group trip, is not in consideration with the current lack of a COVID-19 vaccine, there are alternative solutions to reward your top performers.  

Below are several options that can be considered; each with pros and cons. Each option should take into account your current performance, budget, philosophy and alignment with your executive team and Board before making any material change.

Option 1: Continue with your Club event for the year. If you are in a geography where things are stabilizing, you could opt to continue with the plan as you designed it in late 2019/early 2020. We caution against this if you have a global team given the risk of spread of COVID within your top producers and the impact that could be felt if even only a small percentage of attendees contracted the virus, and others need to quarantine for two weeks. This health risk to your employees is also a financial risk to the company from a drop in production. Additionally, your employees may be unwilling to attend if it involves travel. Due to the major risks and current unknowns across the world, we strongly recommend other options.

Options if you cancel Club for this Fiscal Year:

Option 2: Give a travel voucher or cash award of similar value to the cost of the trip. This would allow the sales reps to make their own decisions on when and where they use the voucher. Although this recognizes the reps and provides incentives, it lacks the impact and cultural motivation of a group event.

Option 3: Gift award. You may consider partnering with a vendor (e.g., Amex travel) to provide winners with points in lieu of their travel.  Points can then be redeemed for gifts such as trips, TVs, appliances, jewelry, etc. This allows for flexibility for your reps to spend on what they prefer and helps maintain an element of a gift rather than a cash award.

Option 4: Combine the 2020 Club with the 2021 Club event. There is an interesting option to provide the reps who won in 2020 with a head start to 2021 qualification criteria or allow them to automatically qualify – essentially deferring their trip for one year.  This allows you to keep the event intact while also ensuring your sales team is safe and productive. We recommend that in order to automatically qualify, reps need to at least achieve this year’s plan, in addition to achieving club in 2020. To encourage continued high performance, you could create additional incentives for achieving the club gates in both years including an extension of stay, first class tickets or a suite versus a standard room. Another recommendation is to combine this option with either a smaller cash award or gift in the current year to recognize the performance closer to the year that it occurred.  Given the unknowns for COVID-19 and the implications on travel as we head into 2021, we would also recommend you consider delaying your 2021 Club event until the Summer/Fall of next year.

Regardless of which option you select for your ScaleUp company, it is important to recognize your PClub winners’ achievements in a virtual ceremony. We recommend hosting a company-wide or sales team only video call (depending on your company culture) to acknowledge the winners and ensure their achievement is shared with their peers. That can be complemented with sending each rep a care package and a trophy to their home.  

Although most of these options lack some of the impact of an amazing trip shortly after the year closes, they offer you a way to encourage and recognize top performers who manage to excel in a difficult environment.  With the right messaging and executive support, these programs can still have material impact on your performance in 2020 and set you up for success in 2021.

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