Study finds non-cash incentives and rewards are a vital component of sales performance management; internal recognition a critical non-financial motivator

St. Louis – March 12, 2013 A recent study of sales organizations at Best-In-Class companies reveals that they are more likely to use recognition in the form of non-cash rewards. Specifically, a majority (55%) of respondents to a recent survey conducted by Aberdeen Group and distributed by the Incentive Research Foundation indicate that non-cash incentives and rewards are a “vital component” of sales performance management, and 57% say that “internal recognition for positive performance” is a critical non-financial motivator.

The February 2013 Aberdeen Research Brief, Non-Cash Incentives: Best Practices to Optimize Sales Effectiveness, explores how Best-In-Class (BIC) organizations extend beyond simple cash compensation to use non-cash incentives and rewards as a vital part of their modern B2B sales performance management efforts.

A Look at Best-In-Class (BIC) Companies

Aberdeen Group, a leading provider of fact-based research helping organizations and individuals make better business decision surveyed 312 end-user organizations to better understand how sales performance management is most effectively deployed.  BIC firms (those comprising the top 20%) had higher customer retention rates, higher year-over-year increase in the number of sales reps achieving quota and a much larger increase in deal size/contract value than industry average firms or ‘laggard firms’ (those comprising the bottom 30%).

The Research Brief, supported and distributed by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), found that organizations with formal internal sales employee recognition programs had 14.8% higher team quota attainment and 5.9% higher customer renewal rate.  In fact, 100% of Best In Class organizations use Incentive Travel to motivate their sales force. 

The study also found that Best In Class Firms were

  • 11% more likely to offer verbal praise, 90% more likely to offer public recognition and 94% more likely to offer peer-to-peer recognition for progress towards goal versus all other firms
  • 23% more likely than all others to offer group travel, 75% more likely to offer company sponsored events and 60% more likely to offer peer-to-peer recognition as a year-end sales incentive 
  • 26% more likely than all others to list teamwork as a very important part of the sales process – and 47% more likely than laggard firms

Outsource or In-House

The study also examines the critical choice of whether to outsource the management of non-cash incentive programs or implement them on their own. A wide variety of efficiency-oriented metrics favor the outsourcing of incentive management, with those organizations that outsource showing higher lead conversion rates (30.4% vs. 23.9%) and lower average sales cycles (4.2 months vs. 5.3 months). Aberdeen research correlates better marketing and sales collaboration with stronger business results that include two crucial metrics: 1) external providers with more experience implementing incentive programs can more effectively help customers execute on these tangible corporate efficiency results, and 2) incentivizing sales reps to evaluate and take action on their marketing-provided sales leads in a timely fashion helps contribute to such positive outcomes.

For more information on this new Non-Cash Incentives study, go to


About the IRF:

The Incentive Research Foundation funds and promotes research to advance the science and enhance the awareness and appropriate application of motivation and incentives in business and industry globally. The goal is to increase the understanding, effective use, and resultant benefits of incentives to businesses that currently use incentives and others interested in improved performance.


Press Contact:

Jon Lieb/Lois Russo

IRF Media Relations

(212) 563-8025