Cash is Still King - and Hard to Resist

As a follow-up to my last post on incentives, let’s talk about cold, hard cash.  Legal tender.  The Benjamins.  Real money, nothing virtual.  The kind you measure by sheer bulk. Here’s my theory: If I add a $100 bonus to your paycheck this week or give you $100 cash, what’s the difference?  First, the cash is instant.  The minute you hit your goal, I can walk over to your desk and pay you.  The faster we reward the more motivating the incentive.  You can also spend it, immediately.  Secondly, it’s tangible and has heft.  $100 viewed in your online checking doesn’t feel as substantial as 10 tens fanned out on your desk.  (I always prefer smaller bills when giving cash, within reason.  Size does matter, here.)

Last year iClick decided to do a simple cash incentive for the sales team.  Here was the plan: for every order booked we pay $1.  At the end of each day we tallied up the orders and paid out the cash – all in one dollar bills. We did this every day for 30 days.  Every day they won.  And every day they were able to feel, in their hands, how much they had succeeded.  It was not big money, just $15-20 per person, per day.  This small amount of money, handled in this particular way, was as good – or greater – a motivator than any of the more “sophisticated” commission plans we ever concocted.

I am not suggesting that cash totally replace commission incentive payments, maybe just an occasional substitute. If you have your own theories on other incentive plans that use cash, please share them in the comments section.

Article written by Lon McGowan. (Cross-posted on Lon's Blog)