In sales, motivation is the key to driving performance. But what drives and encourages sales reps to close deals and hit their quota? Let’s consider the basis of sales motivation—incentive compensation. You build incentive plans to motivate your reps and encourage them to perform certain behaviors. Without them, you can almost guarantee that your team will miss the mark.
But even with a sales compensation plan in place, you sometimes need that extra push that will incentivize reps to close more deals. It takes more than just incentives to drive peak sales performance; you need to keep your sales team engaged as well. This is where sales contests and “gaming your incentive plan” can be a useful tool.
Why Sales Contests Work
Sales is a motivation game. From compensation plans, SPIFs, and bonuses, it’s clear to see that cash is the biggest motivator in the sales game. Why? Because it works. Sales contests take this motivation tactic one step further by introducing competition into the mix.
Perhaps the most well-known sales contest is president’s club, where top sales performers in an organization earn the opportunity to attend an all-expenses-paid trip on the company’s dime. Regardless of the prize, sales contests work because they strike the same primal driver to win that your commission structures do.
Designing Strong Sales Contests
It’s important to also note that not all sales contests are created equal, and they shouldn’t be an always-on strategy. You need to design and time them strategically in order to get the results you want.
To ensure you have the right mix of sales contests, determine how many you need to hold each year. In addition, there is a difference in larger vs. small contests. Large contests require more planning effort and background work. Small contests are easier to launch and manage.
First and foremost, you need to identify the goal of your contest. Here are some questions your team should ask when brainstorming sales contest ideas:
- Is the goal to recognize top performers?
- Do you want to improve employee confidence?
- Are you trying to promote specific sales behaviors?
- Do you need to sell more of a specific solution?
- Are you attempting to set standards of sales performance?
- Do you want to boost morale?
- Would you like to increase order size or get more new customers?
Once you have the goal in mind, you then need to center the contest around the specific sales behaviors that will achieve it. (You can learn more about aligning incentives to sales behaviors here).
6 Easy Sales Contest Ideas
Sales contests are a useful motivation tool for both sales and non-sales teams. The sky is the limit on prizes and they can easily be adapted for different team sizes or even the entire company. To help you plan more effectively and improve sales performance, here are six easy creative sales contest ideas you can implement today.
This type of contest is always fun because it is a contest of chance. To motivate your sales team, offer a raffle ticket each time they perform a specific action or hit a performance threshold throughout the month. Then, at the end of the month or quarter, you can have your drawing. Raffles are effective because they can be used to encourage specific results, but they are also easy to manage.
You might have a monthly or quarterly raffle with the types of prizes your team wants. In addition, it's like icing on the cake for employees to receive a prize on top of their compensation--especially if it is a prize they value. Not to mention, it's always fun to gather everyone around to see what people have won and also talk about how they achieved their goals. Plus, it gives your sales team something to look forward to every month or quarter.
2. Sales Contest Based on Milestones
Another motivating sales contest idea is based on milestones. For example, anyone who reaches a certain amount of sales in a month gets a prize. This can be motivating because often the top salespeople usually get the most prizes.
When you open the field and tie it to a milestone, it gives more sales reps the opportunity to win a prize. As a result, more sales reps become more motivated as opposed to the few top-earning salespeople.
3. The “Leave Early” Sales Contest
There isn't any question the most people like to leave work early on Fridays. So, offering a contest with this type of incentive is highly motivating--and it doesn't cost the company a significant amount of money to offer. Plus, if salespeople increase their output, why shouldn't they be allowed to leave a few hours early?
If you notice salespeople have gotten into the habit of spreading out their deals to hit their quotas for the next cycle, then you might make the objective to reach a specific quota the last few days of the month. Anyone who reaches that objective can leave early on Friday.
This helps to motivate your sales reps to close deals now rather than waiting for the next cycle. It also helps with sales performance. To ensure proper tallies, use sales performance management software. You may also be surprised to find deals that seem to appear out of thin air.
4. Take the Boss's Place
Who wouldn't want to be boss for the day? This type of sales contest works because everyone wants to see what their manager sees. Everyone has input they would like to share. Being boss for the day gives them the opportunity to do all those things and more.
But, it has an added benefit--sometimes sales reps think managers have it easy. Well, once they see things from their boss's perspective, they may realize the grass isn't always greener. Nonetheless, this contest can be run by awarding points based on sales numbers.
The rep with the most points at the end of the month gets to run a meeting or work on a project normally allocated for managers. The rep gets to take on a new role for the day, and it can also help them to prepare for career advancement.
5. March Madness
Another fun contest to improve sales competition could be based on March Madness. This would be a bracket-style contest that offers a friendly way to enhance the competitive nature of your sales team. Keep in mind, this contest would require a bit more background work and planning.
The set up includes creating a bracket for every salesperson on your team. At the end of each week or day, whoever has the most sales moves on to the next round. Then, you can tally the overall winner using sales performance management software.
You can award prizes at the end of the month or quarter. You can also choose to give smaller prizes to the finalists and a larger prize to the overall winner.
6. Dream Clients Contest
Most salespeople have a list of their most wanted clients. There are probably several large companies or big spenders your sale reps would love to have as clients. So, for this contest, you can have each rep list a few of their dream clients within their territory.
Verify that they are all aligned with the rep's territory, then have them create plans on how to reach out to them and attract their business. For this contest, rewards can be given to whoever makes the first sale to their dream client and to whoever makes the biggest sale. Not only is this contest fun, but you'll end up with some large clients.
When it comes to sales contests, competition can be a great motivator to increase sales performance. It’s important to remember that your contests should motivate and excite your team and shouldn’t be used as a replacement for a sales compensation plan. Rather, it should complement it. That way, in the end, you'll have increased revenue and happier sales reps.
Get more tips for designing strategic sales incentive compensation plans in our Ultimate Guide to Sales Compensation Planning.