President’s Clubs: The Sales Incentive Program You Should Be Planning

by | Mar 7, 2022 | Blog


There are many ways to motivate someone. A well-structured sales incentive program can take your business from good to great.


But which one do you choose? 


As a new parent, I’ve started thinking about this stuff. I’ve wondered about the various strategies I could use to get my son to be the best he can be.


Do I use a “tough love” approach? My old high school football coach’s philosophy was “pain is weakness leaving the body”.


Or do I offer constant encouragement. You know the type. It’s linked to the “everyone gets a trophy” crowd that’s reviled by old-school types?


For anyone who’s been a parent, a coach, or the manager of a business, you know these decisions are far more nuanced than simply choosing whether to use the carrot or the stick. Typically, it requires a combination of both. 


Motivating different individuals is a tricky business. It can take different strategies to motivate people – even if their situations are the same!


In other words, motivation is a complex psychological process. To effectively implement, it requires the use of myriad tools and approaches.


In business, trying to figure out the best combination of these tools can lead to much handwringing. You may wonder how in the world you’re going to motivate Person A to do Task B.


Understanding and overcoming this challenge, in fact, is why incentive programs exist.


Finding the Right Sales Incentive Program


Unsurprisingly, different incentive programs solve different challenges in your business.  


Sales incentives are not just one-size-fits-all solution. You can use them to achieve any number of different goals. For example, to motivate under-performing personnel. Other examples include capturing greater market share and accelerating sales of specific products.


One type of sales incentive program that flies under the radar does so because it happens to be one of the more traditional strategies: the President’s Club program, also known as a Chairman’s Club or Diamond Club program.


This type of incentive program is often designed for a company’s top salespeople and is typically built around a high-end travel award that brings these high-performing individuals to an exotic location.


But when it comes to motivation, a President’s Club program functions a bit differently than other sales incentive programs whose main goal is to improve incremental, year-over-year sales growth. That’s because a President’s Club program tends to function as more of a recognition program rather than an ordinary incentive program.


It’s a status symbol achieved by people who get motivated by such things. Any good President’s Club program should build them with this in mind.


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Choose Your Sales Incentive Program Wisely


What this means, however, is that a President’s Club program isn’t for everybody.


For example, if you have a bunch of underperforming salespeople that you’re looking to motivate, this type of program might not be the best approach. 


That’s because it could either end up alienating your best sales performers by lowering the bar for achievement. Conversely, its structure could leave many in your middle 60% feeling like there’s just no way they’ll ever reach the goals you’ve set for them, so why even try?


What a President’s Club can do, on the other hand, is motivate your high achievers by recognizing them as such.


These are your MVPs and earning points so they can buy a new TV probably isn’t enough to really move the needle for them.


That’s why an exciting incentive travel experience is most commonly used, and should be the main focus of this type of sales incentive program.


Furthermore, keep in mind that a President’s Club isn’t really an incentive program, it’s a recognition program.


It’s not designed to help your salespeople do something they’d otherwise become unmotivated to do (i.e., sell more effectively). Rather, this type of program recognizes and rewards them for who they already are, and what they’re already able to do.


In this way it’s also a great retention tool, as it will keep these top people engaged and present in your company throughout the sales cycle in order to achieve the reward (namely, the trip) at the end.


And hopefully, if your President’s Club program is successful, you can run it again the following year to continue retaining these top people who tend to bring in the majority of business for you.




These three Rs—reward, recognize, and retain—are what a President’s Club program is all about.


If you’re able to structure it effectively and target the right people, this type of program can motivate your top performers to maintain and/or elevate their great performances consistently throughout the sales cycle. Whether or not it will work with my son is another story.


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