Feature Article - March/April 2009

Sales Success

How To Motivate Higher Returns

By Brian Summerfield


erhaps the best-known example of a sales incentives program in popular culture is the famous contest from the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross, based on a play by David Mamet. In a movie that included acting giants like Al Pacino, Alan Arkin and Jack Lemmon, perhaps the most memorable performance was that of Alec Baldwin, who was onscreen for fewer than 10 minutes.

In his speech, the arrogant "Blake" character Baldwin portrayed told a down-and-out sales team that the company decided to add "a little something" to a sales contest going on at the time. "As you know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired," he explained.

He said a lot more than that in his "motivational" speech, but that part in particular is what concerns this article. It's worth citing here as an example of precisely what not to do in any sales incentive program.