2017-09-28 15:40



  Companies typically compensate their sales force by using some combination of salary, commission, and bonuses, but executives are often unsure of which incentives provide the best motivation. For example, should bonuses be tied to quotas or should they be given unconditionally? For a quota system, would it be better to use bonuses as a reward (giving them to those who meet or surpass their quotas) or as punishment (taking them away from those who fail to meet their quotas)?


  To investigate these questions, we conducted a randomized field experiment at a large Indian company that manufactures and sells consumer durable goods. The firm’s sales force consists of over 5,000 people who are responsible for selling multiple product lines, including water and air purifiers, vacuum cleaners, security systems, and ancillary services. In the experiment, conducted over a six-month period in four urban cities (Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, and Hyderabad), we assigned different weekly bonus schemes to 80 full-time salespeople. These bonuses were substantial, representing about 27% of the monthly wage of an average salesperson at this company, and they were awarded either conditionally, according to performance, or unconditionally.

  为了调查这些问题,我们在印度一家大型制造和销售耐用消费品的公司进行了一项随机实地实验。该公司的销售团队有5000多人,负责销售多种产品线,包括水、空气净化器、吸尘器、安全系统和辅助服务。我们在四个城市(德里,班加罗尔,孟买和海得拉巴)进行了为期六个月的实验,对80名全职销售人员实行不同的周奖金计划。 奖金非常丰厚,约占该公司平均销售人员月工资的27%,根据业绩等条件奖励给销售人员或者无条件奖励给员工。

  We assigned the salespeople to different bonus treatment groups. Some received conditional bonuses, which we tied to sales quotas under three different treatments: standard, punitive, and real-punitive. In the standard treatment, we gave a bonus payment after a salesperson achieved a weekly sales quota that was set 20% higher than what that individual had previously sold. The punitive treatment was identical except for the framing: We told salespeople that failing to receive a bonus was a penalty for failing to achieve their quotas. And in the real-punitive treatment, bonuses were awarded at the start of the week but then withdrawn for those who didn’t meet their quotas.

  我们根据不同的奖励措施将销售人员分成多个小组。有些采用有条件奖金发放方式,我们以三种不同的方式将奖金与销售配额挂钩:标准、惩罚和实际惩罚。在标准处理中,我们在销售人员实现了每周销售配额比(比个人上一阶段销售额高20%)后发放奖金。 惩罚性处理的方式有些不同:我们告诉销售人员,没有获得奖金是对未能实现配额的惩罚。在实际处罚中,奖金在本周开始时颁发,但是若销售人员未能达到销售配额,奖金将被撤回。

  Some people received unconditional bonuses, which were given irrespective of their sales performance. The goal was to encourage reciprocity, whereby salespeople would increase their work efforts in appreciation for the firm rewarding them with extra monetary compensation. These bonuses were awarded under two different treatments: delayed and immediate. In the delayed treatment the bonuses were communicated to the salespeople at the beginning of the week, and payment was made at the end of the week. In the immediate treatment salespeople were simultaneously informed of and awarded the bonus at the start of the week.

  有些人获得了无条件奖金,不论销售业绩如何都能获得奖金。这种机制的目标是鼓励互惠原则,销售人员将更加努力地工作,以感谢企业为他们提供奖金。 这些奖金由两种不同的方式发放:延迟发放和即时发放。延迟发放指的是,每周开始时告诉员工即将发放奖金,但实际在一周结束时发放;即时发放则指销售人员在每周开始时得到发放奖金的通知、同时能够领取奖金。

  Analyzing the resulting data, we found that the conditional bonuses were, on average, more than twice as effective as the unconditional bonuses. In fact, such conditional compensation resulted in a sales increase of approximately 24%. But, interestingly, we found little evidence of a difference between the standard and punitive treatments. This finding runs counter to loss-aversion theory, which stipulates that people’s desire to avoid a loss will be stronger than their desire to attain an equivalent gain. Our results also indicated that a conditional bonus could potentially demotivate salespeople over time: Salespeople’s performance was higher during weeks of a bonus treatment but lower in weeks after a bonus treatment. This result is consistent with past behavioral research that has found that too much extrinsic motivation may actually lead to a decrease in intrinsic motivation.

  分析结果数据后,我们发现有条件奖金的效果比无条件奖金平均高出一倍多。实际上,有条件奖金促使销售额增加约24%,但有趣的是,我们发现标准和惩罚性措施之间差异很小。 这一发现与损失规避理论背道而驰,这一理论认为人们避免损失的愿望强于取得等价收益的愿望。我们还发现,有条件的奖金可能会随着时间推移降低销售人员的积极性:销售人员的表现在发放奖金的几周里比较好,但在奖金发放后的几周内明显下降。 这个结果与过去的行为研究一致,发现过多的外在动机实际上可能导致内在动机的减少。

  For the unconditional bonuses, we found that they were effective only when they were distributed as a delayed reward. Awarding salespeople with bonuses at the start of a sales period had no significant effect on their performance. It could be that, even though they were told otherwise, the salespeople considered the immediate bonus to be compensation for their past performance, instead of a reward for their future performance. Another interesting result was that the effectiveness of the delayed bonuses appeared to decay when such a reward scheme was repeated over time: The effect sizebecame marginal toward the end of the field experiment.


  We also investigated how the various types of bonuses might affect people differently. We found, for example, that the unconditional bonuses tended to be more effective for salespeople with a higher base performance, which supports the idea that high performers generally have more goodwill toward the company and thus are more likely to reciprocate by increasing their selling effort. In contrast, the conditional bonuses were equally effective across all types of performers.

  我们还调查了各种类型奖金对销售人员的影响。例如,我们发现,无条件奖金往往对绩效较高的销售人员更为有效,这表明,高绩效者普遍对公司有更多的善意,从而更有可能通过加倍努力来回报公司。 相比之下,有条件奖金对所有员工的影响基本相同。

  Our results have implications for companies trying to more effectively manage their salespeople. In general, sales force costs often represent the single largest investment for an organization, averaging about 10% of sales revenues, and up to 40% in B2B markets. As such, companies would do well to understand how best to motivate their salespeople, and to that end, judicious bonuses can be an effective tool.


  Sales force compensation is a tricky issue, requiring decisions based less on intuition and conventional “wisdom,” and more on hard, quantitative data. We encourage companies to periodically experiment with their compensation systems, as there is no clear-cut, magic rule for an optimal scheme. Firm and national culture are different, and so are people.



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