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How Motivating is President’s Club in Tech Sales? 

RepVue Team
RepVue TeamMar 22, 2024

President’s Club. Winner’s Circle. Peak Performers or a range of other names. Whatever you call it at your company, it’s a prestigious award that recognizes top-performing sales representatives and rewards them with a variety of incentives, from cash bonuses to all-expenses-paid trips. 

But just how motivating is the President’s Club in tech sales? Does it really drive success and motivate sales teams?

For many industry experts and sales professionals, the answer is yes. (Others disagree. We’ll get into that, too.)

President’s Club can be a powerful motivator that can help boost morale, drive performance, and foster healthy competition among sales reps. By recognizing and rewarding top performers, companies can create a culture of excellence that inspires employees to strive for greatness. It’s also about the recognition and prestige that comes with being a part of this exclusive club.

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Understanding President’s Club

In the tech industry, sales representatives often benefit from extra motivation and support to achieve their sales targets. President’s Club is a prestigious recognition program that rewards top-performing sales representatives who have met or exceeded their sales goals and quotas. It is a motivational tool that helps to drive success and motivate sales teams in the tech industry.

The President’s Club program is different from other sales incentive programs, as it functions more as a recognition program than an ordinary incentive program. It is designed to celebrate the successes of top sales professionals and encourage healthy competition that will drive sales cycle completion. The program should only reward between 5–20% of your employees to avoid an adverse effect and become demotivating for team members.

Historical Context

The President’s Club program has been around for many years and is not exclusive to the tech industry. It has its roots in the United States, where it was created to recognize top-performing sales representatives in various industries. Today, President’s Club programs are used worldwide and have become an essential part of many sales organizations.

In the past, President’s Club programs were mainly focused on rewarding top sales representatives with a trip to an upscale destination. However, in recent years, the program has evolved to include other rewards, such as cash bonuses, gift cards, and other incentives.

Overall, President’s Club is a powerful tool that can help motivate sales representatives to achieve their sales targets and drive success in the tech industry.

Motivational Factors

To motivate your tech sales team, you need to create an environment that fosters healthy competition and rewards success. One effective way to do this is by implementing a President’s Club program. Here are some motivational factors that make President’s Club programs effective:

Recognition and Status

One of the main motivators for employees is recognition for their hard work. A President’s Club program offers a prestigious status to top performers, which can increase their motivation to succeed. By giving employees a tangible way to showcase their success, you are providing a sense of accomplishment and pride that can drive them to continue performing at a high level.

Exclusive Rewards

Exclusive rewards are another motivating factor for employees. By offering rewards that are not available to everyone, you can create a sense of exclusivity and prestige that can drive your sales team to work harder. Some examples of exclusive rewards include luxury vacations, high-end electronics, and personalized gifts.

Career Advancement Opportunities

A President’s Club program can also offer career advancement opportunities for top performers. By recognizing employees who consistently exceed expectations, you are signaling to them that they have a future with your organization. This can motivate them to continue striving for success and can help you retain your top talent.

Executive Networking

As the name suggests, the President’s Club trip will usually be attended by top sales reps as well as top executives of the company. This means that in addition to enjoying an exotic trip, attendees will also have the chance to spend time with company leaders who they may not otherwise know very well. Not only that, but they’ll be able to interact in a casual environment that’s more conducive to building more substantive relationships. These relationships can prove significant when it comes time for company leadership to consider promotion, raises, or even in leaner times, layoffs.

What do Sellers Prefer? President’s Club vs Extra Cash

RepVue CEO Ryan Walsh recently asked LinkedIn whether a sales incentive trip was motivating. The results were close, but ultimately 56% of respondents said that they’d rather have the money!

This is an interesting datapoint to consider, although it doesn’t necessarily factor in some of the other potential benefits to the company.

Many of the comments showed incentive trips aren’t appealing to every salesperson. Opinions shared vary widely among individuals, influenced by personal preferences, life circumstances, and the nature of the reward itself. 

Some said they view these trips as obligatory work events in disguise, where the pressure to socialize and participate in activities detracts from the experience’s enjoyment. The notion of spending leisure time with colleagues, regardless of the setting, may not be appealing to everyone, highlighting the need for rewards that cater to individual preferences.

Family commitments and personal responsibilities further complicate the desirability of incentive trips. The logistics of arranging childcare or the guilt associated with leaving family behind can diminish the reward’s perceived value.

These are important perspectives to consider — and it comes down to the type of culture that you want to create and maintain at your company. Consider the fact that many team members may share these perspectives but be wary about expressing them for fear of going against an established company tradition. If you think that that might be the case, consider whether something other than a trip might be a better fit for your company.

Recognizing that motivation and preference are highly individualized, companies may benefit from adopting a more flexible approach to rewards. Offering options allows individuals to select the reward that best aligns with their values, needs, and lifestyle, enhancing the overall effectiveness of the incentive program.

Impact on Sales Performance

President’s Club can have a significant impact on sales performance, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

Quantitative Benefits

One of the most significant benefits of the President’s Club is the increase in sales performance. A study published by the Incentive Research Foundation found that well designed incentive travel programs increased sales productivity by 18% and resulted in an ROI of 112%. This increase in sales is due to the competitive nature of the program, which motivates sales representatives to work harder and close more deals.

Furthermore, the President’s Club can also help companies retain their top-performing sales representatives. When sales representatives feel valued and appreciated, they are more likely to stay with the company and continue to perform at a high level. This can lead to increased revenue and a more stable sales team.

Qualitative Benefits

In addition to the quantitative benefits, the President’s Club can also have qualitative benefits. These programs can help foster a sense of camaraderie and healthy competition among sales representatives. This can lead to a more positive and supportive sales culture, which can have a ripple effect throughout the organization.

Moreover, the President’s Club can also help boost morale and motivation among sales representatives. When sales representatives feel recognized and appreciated for their hard work, they are more likely to feel motivated to continue performing at a high level. This can lead to a more positive and productive work environment, which can benefit the entire organization.

Challenges and Criticisms

Inclusivity Concerns

One of the main criticisms of President’s Club programs is that they can be exclusive and demotivating for employees who are not part of the club. 

These programs are often designed to reward the top performers, which means that only a small percentage of employees are eligible for the rewards. This can create a sense of competition and division among team members, which can be counterproductive and lead to a decrease in morale and productivity.

To address this issue, it is important to ensure that the criteria for the President’s Club are clear and transparent. The selection process should be based on objective performance metrics that are accessible to all employees. Managers should also provide regular feedback and coaching to help employees improve their performance and increase their chances of being selected for the President’s Club.

Pressure and Stress

Another challenge of President’s Club programs is that they can create a high-pressure environment that can lead to stress and burnout among sales representatives. The pressure to meet sales targets and qualify for the President’s Club rewards can be overwhelming and lead to a focus on short-term results rather than long-term success.

To mitigate this issue, it is important to ensure that the President’s Club rewards are aligned with the company’s long-term goals and values. Sales representatives should be encouraged to focus on building strong relationships with customers and providing value to them rather than just closing deals. Managers should also provide support and resources to help sales representatives manage their stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Potential Negative Reaction

For most companies, there wouldn’t be a President’s Club program if they didn’t feel that the benefits outweighed the costs. During strong economic times, this type of investment to drive better economic results for the company will usually go unquestioned. 

However, when the company is facing overall challenges and headwinds, many may question whether it’s appropriate to spend the money to send what are likely already among the best-compensated people in the company on an all-expenses-paid vacation. 

This is especially true if the company does layoffs within a few months before or after the trip. Many will ask if the money spent on the trip could have been put to better use. 

This is a hard situation, especially given that this type of trip is usually planned many months (if not a full year) in advance and probably requires non-refundable deposits. In cases like this, difficult executive leadership is required to decide on the best course of action. 

In most cases, the trip would still happen, as it represents a prior commitment to the team. They did their part, and the company needs to fulfill their commitment. However, there are extreme situations in which this may not be the case. In these situations it may be better to delay or even cancel a trip — or find a less conspicuous way to reward employees,  such as a cash bonus or even a gift card that they can use to take a trip on their own.

Best Practices for Maximizing Motivation

If you want to maximize the motivation of your sales team with a President’s Club program, there are some best practices to follow. Here are two key areas to focus on:

Setting Clear Goals

To ensure that your President’s Club program is motivating, you need to set clear goals that are challenging yet achievable. This means defining what success looks like for your team and communicating this vision to them. You should also ensure that the goals are specific, measurable, and time-bound so that your team knows exactly what they need to do to qualify for the President’s Club.

One way to set clear goals is to use a scorecard that tracks individual performance against specific metrics. This allows team members to see how they are performing relative to their peers and against the goals that have been set. It also helps to foster a sense of healthy competition and provides a clear path to success.

Fostering a Competitive yet Collaborative Environment

To maximize motivation, it’s important to foster a competitive yet collaborative environment. This means creating an atmosphere where team members feel motivated to compete with each other, but also feel comfortable collaborating and sharing ideas.

One way to foster this type of environment is to create opportunities for team members to work together on projects or initiatives. This can help to build trust and camaraderie among team members, while also encouraging healthy competition.

Another way to foster a competitive yet collaborative environment is to provide regular feedback and recognition to team members. This can help to reinforce positive behaviors and motivate team members to continue performing at a high level.

Don’t forget about the broader team that supports the reps who carry quotas and are critical to their success. You can include these team members, as well. 

Consider giving departments that support sales (which is probably most of them) the opportunity to send top performers to President’s Club, too. This can help get broad buy-in for the trip — and can also foster better collaboration and stong relationships across the company.

Don’t Skimp on the Trip

To maximize the benefit of the trip — for both the company and the attendees — it really should be a special and memorable experience. This usually means that it will be on the more expensive side relative to other business trips that your employees may take. But if you consider it in the context of the investment that you’re making in your top performers, it’s likely only an incremental line-item in your budget. If you’re going to do it, do it right!

Celebrate Success

To get the most benefit from the President’s Club, it’s important to recognize reps as they qualify throughout the year. Your top reps may qualify with several months to spare — and the best reps will probably compete to be the first to qualify. 

President’s Club qualification is also something that can be celebrated and recognized at other events, such as a sales kickoff. Lastly, you should give extra recognition to those who achieve President’s Club in consecutive  years — or even have a streak of several years in a row!

Alternatives to the Traditional President’s Club Trip

If after considering all of the pros and cons of a traditional President’s Club trip, you decide that it’s just not a fit for your sales org sales leaders or company executives might consider some alternatives that can still give you some of the same benefits:

Trip to a Local Destination

It’s common to plan President’s Club trips to exotic or tropical locations, and fancy hotel resorts. But you don’t have to do it that way. Depending on where you’re located, you could choose to do a one night trip to a local destination. This will be much easier on those who may not relish an extended social engagement — and on parents who need to arrange for child care.

Do a Dinner

It doesn’t have to be a trip. You could just do a dinner. If you go this route though, make it a really nice, memorable dinner. Consider letting your team expense childcare.

Gifts or Cash

For some companies — especially those that are fully remote — a trip may just not make sense. You can still do President’s Club in other forms, such as special gifts or even cash. 

If you go this route, you might consider having a few different options that your top reps can choose from, so that they feel like the recognition is more personal and significant. 

One option to consider here is that you can send reps on their own, personal trips. (Even better, with the guest of their choice!) You could still pick a nice destination (or maybe provide a choice of two different ones), and let reps know that you’ll pick up the cost (along with flights and some spending money) at any time in the next year. This lacks some of the camaraderie that comes with a group trip, but it has the added benefit of likely being highly appreciated by your reps and their guests!

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