January 13, 2006

What Would You Do For a Rolex?

Posted in management, Sales at 3:39 pm by scottmaxwell

We are approximately 2-weeks into the new year. How are you going to make sure that your emerging growth business gets off to a great start this month and this year? If you are like most companies, your team probably has the mindset that this is a slow quarter for sales, so why not save your energy for when the fish are biting? Well… mostly because you still need to figure out how to eat even when the fish aren’t biting!

I just finished a board meeting where this was the exact situation. The Sales head does not have the conviction that he will be able to have a reasonable first quarter due to seasonality. The CEO came up with a solution that is an old sales trick:

Offer up a Rolex watch to the top salesperson for the quarter (as measured by sales relative to quota to normalize for larger territories). The incentive should help get the sales force focussed on winning a prize AND put some fun in the day-to-day grind. The fact is that the sales group does not need to believe they can hit large numbers…they only need to believe that they might be able to do it and they need to undertake all the activities necessary to do the best that they can. Like the little engine that could, all they need is the incentive to try.

The salesperson perception of getting a Rolex for being the best sales person has much more perceived value than actual cost, and the net cost of $5k for the Rolex is far less than the motivational gain for the salesforce (even if you only have 2-3 salespeople). Also, the salesperson who wins will wear it as a badge of honor.

Other approaches, such as giving a stack of one dollar bills or a dinner out, have similar motivational effects for the salespeople, but the Rolex incentive is my favorite (the other ideas do, however, allow you to scale the idea to your budget). If you don’t have a salesforce, consider doing the same for your head of e-commerce or whoever needs that extra spark to get the year off right!

Think about it. What would you do for a Rolex?



  1. Peter Kay said,


    The overall concept is a classic that does work. I beg to differ in only one key area:

    Any “Sales Head” that does not have conviction about beating last year’s sales goals should be immediately fired. One vitally important element of sales psychology is that you need to BELIEVE. If the Head doesn’t believe, how can the rest of the body possibly believe it?

    There’s always an excuse why sales can’t be made. Ask any loser salesperson and you’ll get an earful.

    I don’t know what the job market is like in that region, but this reminds me of another “motivational speech” I heard many moons ago:

    “All those salespeople that exceed their quotas by 10% will keep their jobs”.

  2. scottmaxwell said,

    thanks for the comment. The situation is actually a bit more complicated (his target is well above last year, but well below Q4 actual, fast ramp, worrried about the first quarter effect, etc., ect.)., but your point is a good one.

    I find that there are many different styles of sales management which pull on different emotions. It seems that fear is a big one for many good sales managers. It has alrways seemed to me that managing a broader set of emotions may get more productivity out of the sales force and may create a more positive environment. I have seen both extremes work well (and both extremes NOT work well for other reasons). A lot of it is the “culture” and “sales system” that the VP Sales is comfortable with executing.

    All of that said, your point is spot on for the vast majority of ssuccessful sales managers…not sure if this is because it is the easiest to execute or because it is the most effective.


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