A new survey has found that 100 percent of “best-in-class” companies use group travel and company-sponsored events to reward their sales teams.

The Aberdeen Group, a Boston-based research firm, surveyed 312 companies for its report, “Non-Cash Incentives: Best Practices to Optimize Sales Effectiveness.” The report was underwritten and distributed by the Incentive Research Foundation.

Best-in-class companies were those with the highest sales success: They had top numbers in terms of average percentage of quota met by their sales teams (105 percent), percentage of leads closed (29 percent), and growth in the percentage of sales reps achieving their quotas (8.8 percent).

Aberdeen found that while 100 percent of the best-in-class companies it surveyed used group travel incentives, only 81 percent of the other companies did so. And the differences in the use of other year-end incentives were also striking:

Use of company-sponsored events

Best-in-class respondents: 100 percent

All other respondents: 57 percent

Use of written or verbal peer-to-peer recognition

Best-in-class: 80 percent

All other respondents: 50 percent

Use of individual travel

Best-in-class: 67 percent

All other respondents: 59 percent

The study also looked at some non-cash approaches to motivating salespeople as they progress toward their year-end goals. Best-in-class companies, it found, were more likely than other companies to use verbal praise, public recognition, and peer-to-peer recognition throughout the year to help keep salespeople on track.

Verbal praise

Best-in-class respondents: 80 percent

All other respondents: 72 percent

Public recognition

Best-in-class respondents: 80 percent

All other respondents: 42 percent

Peer-to-peer recognition

Best-in-class respondents: 60 percent

All other respondents: 31 percent

The full report, which also looks at the value associated with having non-cash incentives managed by an outside company, the importance of teamwork for sales success, and other issues, can be downloaded from the IRF Web site.