That company's sales managers saw an overall increase in sales—not just among the top performers. "This program resulted in
such measurable improvement in a greater percentage of sales people that the company opted to continue with the program,"
says Godar. According to Luzi, the most important factor in driving behavior is ensuring participants are focused. "The goal
for maximum benefit is to have participants so engaged that when you launch your integrated performance marketing program,
they immediately start goal-setting and determining what they want to earn," he advises.
Merchandise incentive programs offer versatility and flexibility, Amorde says. "If you set aside sales objectives, these programs
are excellent tools for behavior modification," she says. "While [they may be] more difficult to measure, safety, wellness,
attendance, and quality control are only a few of the possibilities." All it takes, she adds, is a little forethought and
planning by management. She cites an example of one company's desire to acknowledge and reward the efforts of a research and
development team that had gone beyond the call of duty in achieving a particular goal. "In this case," she says, "the ten
people on the team received a flat-level award, or gift certificate, commensurate with the effort expended."
"Merchandise is also used for retention," says Durrett. "Companies now realize they must offer a more comprehensive benefits
mix." Fontana agrees: "Sales reps in the pharma industry tend to be young. Companies will spend six to eight months training
them and then competitors try to lure them away. Companies now offer signing bonuses or incentives after one or two years.
They may say, 'You'll get a trip to Hawaii or a flat screen TV if you're here for a year.' Some companies may think that's
expensive but think of what you're saving in training a new employee."
Luzi agrees. "You need to reward your team players for outstanding performance," he says, "however that is defined. Otherwise,
you could lose them to the competition."
A Tool in Turbulent Times
Merchandise incentives are also a smart tool to help companies through the inevitable ups-and-downs the industry faces. "We're
seeing pharma companies using merchandise incentives when they're ramping up for a competitive threat, such as when another
company has better clinical trials," says Durrett. "It's almost like a re-launch to protect their market share."
"With any company going through a merger, the most important thing to remember is to serve your customers,"Anderson says.
"When reps have the greatest amount of distraction, you want to get them focused on their customers."
Anderson advises reps to ask themselves, "what does my doctor need to know?" and to constantly refresh their knowledge. She
reinforces the value of linking rewards with educational testing, as GSK does with its 3*2*1 Challenge. Quizzes offer reps
the chance to redeem points if they score a 90 or higher. Some pharma companies approach selling as a team, notes Anderson:
"It's a different way to go to market. They not only need to know their product, but also keep strong and positive customer
relations if another rep is going to call on a doctor the next time. Reps should be rewarded for these behaviors."
Jennifer Juergens (firstname.lastname@example.org
), former editor of IncentiveMagazine, is a freelance writer in New York City.