Impact by the Numbers

The challenge

A leading Fortune 500 insurance firm distributed their products through several thousand independent sales agents.


Launching incentive contests to drive sales performance was a common tactic, but management found it difficult to engage their sales force throughout the duration of contest periods. Contests were launched rather quickly, generating gaps in awareness, participation and field reporting.


As a result, the firm had low levels of engagement among its agents and contests rarely achieved positive ROI, and faced the following challenges:

  • Motivating agents and shaping behaviors that were aligned with company goals.

  • Obtaining greater mind share from the sales force, especially during incentive periods.

  • Keeping infrastructure costs low, since contest reporting requires significant resources.

  • Pushing sales reports to the field was not optimal; reports were only accessible through company’s intranet portal.

  • Consuming large, hard-to-read files is a sub-optimal experience, especially when these files are not customized to individuals.

The solution

ZS believed the firm could better maximize the value of its incentives through new ways of elevating performance. ZS uncovered an opportunity to change the way performance was managed and communicated—converting static reports into more engaging, user-friendly digital tools. We built a custom mobile application where agents and managers could check their real-time performance, compare themselves to their peers and stay up-to-date on progress to goal through custom push notifications and smart alerts—better driving promotion, awareness and engagement during incentive periods.


Our approach to delivering a mobile app 

  • Understand needs and processes: Identified use cases, processes and requirements through interviews and feedback from sales and IT.
  • Develop “Straw Man”: Created early prototype through several rounds of wireframe/mockup iterations with sales leadership.

  • Technology assessment: Analyzed best-in-class back-end hosting and processing systems to serve as a scalable platform based on needs and client IT requirements.

  • Design and development: Leveraged best-in-class UI/UX practices for iOS and Android and leveraged agile approach during development of front and back-end systems. 

  • Testing and launch: Collaborated with IT to ensure all security protocols were met and stress-tested applications to ensure scalability. Tested app in pilot markets prior to on-time national roll-out.

The impacts

Developed app features

  • Password-protected access to custom, individualized reporting.

  • Ability to view current sales performance and progress to goal through appealing visualizations.

  • Visibility into leaderboard which ranked agents by sales; ability to search for specific agents in market.

  • Ability for first-line managers to view their teams’ performance during contest period.

  • Contest rules and guidelines easily available for reference. 

  • Personalized notifications that informed agents about their current performance, distance from goal and time remaining in the contest period.

The impact of the app

  • App users that received customized notifications opened 10% more new accounts on average during the contest period than the holdout group.

  • First line managers attained 12% incremental average quota compared to the users who did not use the app. 

  • App users produced 26% more in sales and opened twice as many new accounts compared to non-app users who had similar production levels prior to app launch.