To encourage the sales and technical employees of IMB resellers in 131 countries to complete Know Your IBM (KYI) training so that they could more effectively sell its products, the technology corporation turned to a method that parents have successfully used for generations to encourage their kids to do well in school: offering tangible rewards. While parents often use money as the carrot, IBM and Motivforce Marketing & Incentives Ltd. created a two-component rewards program.
The first component, Learn and Earn, awarded participants points, redeemable for various gifts, for successfully completing the various educational modules of the KYI program. To encourage participants to review each component as it was issued, rather than all at once, IBM gave extra points to those who completed each module within a month of its being released. The company also tracked the sales performance of program participants; those who didn’t generate a lift in sales received a follow-up call from the local IBM account management team to ensure that the participants actually understood and was using the information in each module.
The second component, Sell and Earn, was more of a traditional sales incentive program, with participants earning points for the IBM products and services they sold. Those who sold products featured in the educational modules earned additional points. Analytical models and reporting mechanisms created specifically for the campaign gauged the effectiveness of the learning modules.
The program included mobile-friendly websites and an app so that participants could keep up with the modules and redeem their points for rewards even while on the road. Games were created for local markets—a ping-pong-based challenge in China, soccer-themed games for Latin America and Europe—to further encourage participation.
IBM had hoped to engage 9,700 active participants to complete 100,000 education modules. The program exceeded expectations, with nearly 11,750 resellers completing more than 120,000 modules. Every dollar spent on training resulted in a return of $345, with the campaign exceeding its revenue goal by 15%.