At the corporate sales meetings where I give presentations, I am often asked to participate in giving out sales awards.

The customer is elated when I say OK. Little do they know it’s one of my favorite things to do – and one of, if not the most important part of their meeting.

Please note: These are not “contests.” They are sales achievement awards.

People’s names are called for one achievement or another, and their name and photo are shown on big screens in front of everyone (especially their peers). They walk to the stage to accept their award – smiling, beaming, full of pride.

Photos are taken, hands are shaken, statues are given, plaques are awarded, inscriptions are read aloud and prizes are given to the people who won – nay – earned the award. All their hard work is recognized and rewarded. In public.

What’s the value of this? Can’t be measured. To quote MasterCard: “Priceless.”

You can measure performance, but you can’t measure pride of achievement. Nor can you measure the motivation and inspiration to continue to achieve.

Their stimulus is not measured in some government handout or bailout. It’s internal stimulus created from personal pride and accomplishment. Winning. Selling.

When someone wins an award there are several unspoken benefits. There is the incentive for that person to maintain or improve his or her performance to stay at the top. And there is huge stimulus for others in the audience to try to win an award next year.

Note: Award achievement in public, not just at the meeting. Make sure it’s on your blog, in your e-zine, and posted on your Web site.

Sales incentives and sales awards are economic stimulus of the first degree. Real stimulus. In challenging economic times (how’s that for putting it mildly), sales are what will make a company recover. Oh, you may have to make some cuts for the safety of your business, but no company ever cut their way to success. You must sell your way to profit and success.

The reality is: How many of the GM bailout billions are teaching its car salespeople how to sell in a way that doesn’t breed customer anger and disrespect? My bet is not one penny. One of the reasons GM went under is that it couldn’t sell as many cars as its competition. This stems from a lack of respect for car salespeople and “iffy” advertising like “a dollar over invoice.”

Car sales are down. But 7.8 million new cars were sold in 2008. What percentage went to GM? Answer: not enough. Maybe a better answer lies in salespeople and their incentive to perform honorably and be rewarded for their achievement. Just a thought.

Maybe if the auto dealers rewarded their salespeople on the amount of customers that were repeat buyers, or percentage of customers that also use the service department, rather than “number of units sold,” they would be in less of a mess. Just a thought.

Our president doesn’t seem to understand the power of celebration and rewarding performance of salespeople. Too bad.

Cancel sales meetings? Never. Stop rewarding the very people who put all the money in your corporate coffers? Never.

Recognize salespeople for a job well done, and they will recognize you.

Praise salespeople for a job well done, and they will praise you.

Reward salespeople for a job well done, and they will continue to reward you.

Why don’t you take a look at your company, your salespeople and your awards and rewards. Maybe some recognition re-org is in order. Maybe instead of “cutting,” you might try “investing.” Especially in salespeople. They are your bailout.

Instead of figuring out how to change (reduce) compensation plans as a disincentive and morale breaker to all, why not invest in a sales meeting and a celebration to reward those who have achieved at the highest level, and challenge those in the audience that they too can win these awards next year if they decide to dedicate the time and effort to do so.

Want the secrets to winning the sales award in your company?

1. Your yes attitude with everyone you come in contact with.

2. Creating a value proposition in terms of the customer.

3. Your dedication to helping and serving others.

4. Creating a buying atmosphere when you meet customers.

4.5 Hard work.


Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of "The Sales Bible" and "The Little Red Book of Selling." President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer loyalty at www.trainone.com. He can be reached at 704-333-1112 or e-mail to salesman@gitomer.com. His columns are posted on his Web site, www.gitomer.com