Sales Leaders love sales contests – when sales performance increases productivity and revenues.

Salespeople love to compete and win – when rules are clear and prizes certain.

Making everyone happy depends on the structure of the Sales Contest. Sales contests do promote short-term improvement, but when they are clear, achievable, well-organized, and fun, they can establish and develop self-perpetuating skills and values.

Sales performance

The whole purpose of sales contests is to hit a clearly identified statistical target (a 15% increase in sales of a recently introduce product) or achieve a specific result (10% increase in bundled sales).

Sales competitions might challenge salespeople:Sales contests

  • To identify prospects and add new customers.
  • To secure new and/or larger orders per call.
  • To sell a designated inventory or offset a seasonal slump.
  • To test the delivery and quality of new sales presentations.
  • To improve customer satisfaction.

But, meeting any target depends on sales management’s ability to identify, quantify, and communicate the target, the prize, and the means to compete for it. It requires them to weigh and budget the incentive and to monitor the sales performance towards the contest goals.

Sales purpose

Any Sales Leader wants to maximize sales revenues in direct and indirect ways. Sales contests must:

  • Lead directly and clearly to increased rewards for the salespeople and the company.
  • Motivate salespeople to effectively accentuate their personal and team efforts.
  • Help salespeople to learn and improve productive sales habits.

But, broader purposes reward salespeople and sales leaders in ways that continue to improve motivation, morale, and teamwork by:

  • Modeling and making winners out of everyone.
  • Recognizing individual and/or team performance.
  • Developing a constructive team experience.
  • Establishing new sales performance benchmarks.
  • Structuring a system for training and reinforcement.

Sales Contests rules

Competition can destroy the plan and purpose when the rules are not firm and clear.

  • Perceived fairness can make or break a contest’s success. Competitors have to believe that everything is above board and everyone has an equal chance.
  • Contest design should be simple enough to describe, measure, and  communicate. Leaders must post graphic progress and results, a motivational device on its own.
  • Sales contests lose their effectiveness when used too frequently. If winning is normal, there is nothing special about it
  • Schedule the contest for up to 30 days. It should be long enough to accomplish targets and short enough to avoid boredom.
  • Let everybody win a prize. Individual performance improves overall performance, so make it possible for everyone to win something.

Using a sales contest to identify and discipline losers is counter-productive. Someone has to come in last in any competition. Using the contest as a punitive tool sacrifices morale.

Contest prize

The choice of contest prizes optimizes sales contest results and sustains future performance. Not surprisingly, cash does not mean much to salespeople who are already well paid. They do not need cash for financial or self-esteem fulfillment. However:

  • Cash is an incentive for the less well-compensated staff if it is a significant percentage of their base pay and forms a worthy lump sum reward.
  • A choice of quality merchandise has the added personal value of choice and self-fulfillment.
  • Salespeople value special deals and privileges, including wholesale or retail discounts, additional vacation or paid time off.
  • Vacation or holiday travel offer special status, recognition, and fun.
  • People do value plaques and trophies they can display.

The prize becomes the theme and medium for the sales contest promotion. Promotion elevates the event, broadens its appeal, and universalizes the involvement. Win or no win, every employee takes interest in the outcome.

Sales competition employee engagement ideasSales Contests as a game

Gamification has a way of engaging employees and making competition more fun. The assumption that happy employees produce more. Gamification makes competition its own reward and makes the promotion a shared experience. Using game mechanics and vivid vicarious experience create and stimulate a new work environment where performance is witnessed and shared.

Contest support

Maximizing results of sales contest is time- and talent- intensive. It is not a project for amateurs. Sales leaders need advice and innovative software based on motivational science, actual business data, and gamification fun to motivate success and reward model sales behaviors.

Additional sales contests resources:

Assessing The Impact of Sales Incentive Programs: A Business Process Perspective  research conducted by Srinath Gopalakrishna, Associate Professor of Marketing, University of Missouri-Columbia

Thoughts about gamification, technology and stuff blog by Andrzej Marczewski

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles&bplanet at FreeDigitalPhotos.net