GE Consumer & Industrial's Electrical Distribution business, based in Plainville, Conn., named Kevin Fyfe, who does inside sales at Gexpro's Norfolk, Va., location, the top prize winner in the GE Gold Medal Games. The contest was designed to bring the excitement and spirit of the Olympic games to the inside and outside sales people at GE distributors. His prize — a trip for two to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games — included airfare, accommodations, tickets to wrestling and swimming events, and $10,000. GE also arranged excursions to tourist sites such as the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, as well as a tour of the GE Imagination Center and dinner at the GE/NBC Olympic Hospitality Center.

The GE Electrical Distribution business, which manufactures components and equipment, sells approximately 85 percent of its products through electrical distributors. “We have a strong emphasis this year on growing our components sales,” says Kate Johnston, marketing manager at GE. “With smaller dollar value items like components, distributors work with contractors who usually make the decisions about which products to buy. We came up with the GE Gold Medal Games promotion to get distributors excited about selling our products.”

That's how Fyfe won the big prize. An 18-year veteran at Gexpro, dating back to when it was GE Supply, has been a sports fan his entire life. “I like all kinds of sports,” he says. “I have always loved watching sports on TV, especially the Olympics. It's a thrill to see people compete at that level of skill. I remember as a kid being so psyched by the Olympics that my friends and I would set up our own neighborhood track and field events and try our best to copy the world's top athletes.”

The contest was managed through the GE Gold Medal Games website. Participants simply had to register for either the Inside Sales or the Project Sales competition. For inside sales people, the contest ran from Dec. 3, 2007 to March 15, 2008. Every time they sold $100 worth of GE products, they entered the date, dollar amount of the sale and the ticket number, so the winning entries could be validated. There were multiple drawings for small prizes like hats and T-shirts. The sale that won Fyfe the big prize was on March 5, for two safety switches worth a total value of $268.55.

The Project Sales contest, which isn't over until June 30, works differently. For every dollar they sell they get a point. At the end of the period, the pile of points can be cashed in for various prizes. For 300,000 points they can earn a trip to New York City, Disney World or Vancouver.

“We got some good results out of this,” says Johnston. “And we saw a great deal of engagement. Everyone was included. It was simple, and it gave people something to talk about.” It generated excitement for distributors and for account managers like Johnny Shields, from Bridgeville, Pa., who says, “The promo has been a huge hit for my customers. They all love it.”

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