8 Tips for a Successful Sales Contest

by | Jan 27, 2023

A sales incentive program or contest can be a great way to improve the performance of your sales team. Sales contests are usually implemented by leadership as a way to inspire the sale of a particular product or service, such as selling off remaining inventory or growing a customer base for a newly launched service. Sales contests work to spark a friendly competition between sales reps by encouraging all reps to up their game and rewarding the rep who achieves the goals outlined in the contest. 

However, a poorly structured incentive program can be demotivating for staff, cause friction among team members, and even result in poor performance among reps. In order to help you create a fun and effective sales contest that allows you to meet your target sales goals, we’ve outlined some tips below.

1. Identify a specific goal

It may seem obvious, but for a contest to truly be successful, you need to identify a specific goal for your team to achieve. Identifying your goal ahead of time will allow you to structure your contest in a way that makes the goal attainable for your sales team, while leading efforts toward your target outcome. If your goal is not attainable, your contest could actually demotivate your team and the desired outcome of the contest will not be met.

2. Keep it simple

It’s important not to overcomplicate the rules of your sales contest. Your salespeople should be able to clearly understand the rules of the contest and what is expected of them in order to win. If the rules are unclear or complex, it can spark frustration among employees who have put in sufficient effort toward achieving that goal.

3. Get feedback from your team

While not completely necessary, it is generally a good idea to get feedback before implementing the plan to the entire team. Start by asking a couple of your senior salespeople what they think. They are the ones in the field and if there is a component of the contest that could pose a problem to reps, they are most able to identify that.

4. Create a level playing field for all of your sales reps

Too often incentive programs are designed in a way that only makes it possible for your top sales reps to win. When creating your sales contest, you should consider it as an opportunity to motivate and inspire confidence in some of your lower performing sales reps. Otherwise, the competition can demotivate the entire team. There should never be an expectation that only certain reps would be able to achieve the goal. 

To level the playing field, incorporate some front-end work such as lead generation, customer follow-up, client documentation, etc. This ensures that every team member will have to put in a fair amount of effort and your top sales rep won’t automatically win.

Sales team excitedly rallies around the idea of the latest sales contest to boost sales performance.

5. Only hold one contest at a time 

Eliminate confusion, frustration, and distractions by only holding one contest at a time. If you have more than one contest at a time, you are likely going to detract from your original goal. Your team will perform their best when they are focused on one specific goal or outcome to work towards.

6. Make it fun 

Sales contests are meant to inspire friendly competition, so make sure that you include an element of fun. Emphasize the friendly tone by structuring your contest around a shared office joke or tidbit. 

Another way to add fun to your contest is to ask your employees to decide what prize they are playing for and what they receive if they win. This helps your reps feel invested in the contest and ensures that the top prize is something that your employees actually want, which can work to help heighten the level of competition. Your salespeople will feel special that you included them in your efforts, which will act as its own separate incentive to participate.

7. Communicate regularly about the status of the competition

Sales reps will want regular updates on their status in the contest, so you want to be able to keep all reps informed of their standing in the competition at any point. Core Commissions’ application allows you to easily set-up the structure of your contest as a dashboard, so that your reps can track their progress in real time. This is crucial for maintaining the attention of your employees and keeping them committed to the competition.

8. Deliver on the results

In order to maintain the trust of your salespeople, you need to deliver on your promises. Before announcing the contest to staff, make sure the prize is something that you can actually provide. If you structure your contest around commission, such as 10% of total sales in the competition, make sure that’s something you can afford.

On the same note, prizes should be handed out as soon as possible. You should have the prize ready by the end of the contest, or at the very least be able to get it shortly after the contest concludes. Sales reps will become frustrated if they are kept waiting for the prize that they worked so hard to achieve. It could impact their overall motivation to do their job and could make it difficult to rally your team for the next contest.

Ideas for Effective Sales Contests

After taking into account the tips outlined above, here are some examples of effective sales contests to improve the overall performance of your sales team: 

  • Most Cold Calls: Encourage your team to focus on customer prospects by implementing a contest with a prize to your rep who conducts the most cold calls. This is a great contest for both seasoned sales reps as well as newer additions to your sales team. 
  • Most Product Demonstrations: Product demonstrations are an effective way of nurturing your customers’ engagement during their research stage of the buying process. Motivate your team to dedicate extra time toward product demonstrations by incorporating it into a competition and rewarding the rep with the most demos.
  • Team vs Team: Divide your sales reps into teams for a collaborative and team-based contest. Try grouping seasoned sales reps with newer team members as an opportunity to help influence and mentor some of your less experienced reps while incentivizing them to outsell other sales teams. 
  • Most Lead Conversions: Randomly assign a list of new leads to each sales rep. At the end of the contest, the sales rep that was able to convert the most leads from their list wins a prize. 
  • Most Improved: Sometimes the greatest motivation can come from a rep’s desire to improve upon their own sales performance. To facilitate this, set up a challenge that rewards them for improving on their own sales. The rep with the most overall progress on specified sales metrics wins the contest. 
  • Milestone Contest: Instead of only rewarding one rep, make your prizes smaller and create a contest structure that allows any rep to win for meeting certain milestones. For example, any rep that closes at least 20 deals wins $500. 
  • Most Upsold Products: If increasing overall sales revenue is your goal, incentivize reps to upsell additional products and services to their customers. The prize goes to your sales rep who is able to upsell the most products or generate the most revenue through upselling.

Empower Your Team

By leading a successful contest, you can effectively increase your sales revenue and the performance of your sales team. It can have long-lasting impacts to your team’s motivation, improve your team’s rapport, and could continue to increase overall sales performance even after the contest has ended.

Once you have established the structure to your sales contest, Core Commissions’ software can help you create a dashboard to allow you to track as your reps advance in the competition. Core’s employee portal also gives your reps complete visibility to check their status in the competition at any time with live data. Contact us for more information about how Core Commission can help track your sales contests and streamline your sales reporting.

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