» Winning the war of sales contests: Best ideas to get more results


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Winning the war of sales contests: Best ideas to get more results

sales contests

Are you a sales manager or contact center manager that organizes sales contests with your employees? Are you scratching your head wondering if they actually work? Or are you simply banging your head against your computer screen for contest ideas that will (ahem) FINALLY motivate and engage your employees?

We understand your private hell.

It ain’t easy navigating through the sales contest battleground. As a manager, it’s not like you don’t have anything else to do than manage contests, right?

And it’s not like your college degree covered the topic, if at all, we assume?

Your latest coaching sessions or online training probably skipped it as well, correct?

Or perhaps you’ve frantically googled terms akin to “great sales contest ideas” or “contest ideas for work“ or [enter gamut of keyword search terms here]…only to find corny ideas that just won’t sit well with your team. The horror.

So what’s a time-pressed manager like yourself to do?

  1. Define your goal. No, really. Some managers we’ve spoken to just randomly started sales contests and “fired” them all over the place in the desperate hope that all of them…any of them…would kick their team’s performance in gear. Uhhh…no, it doesn’t quite work this way. You need to specifically determine for all of your contests as well as each one what it is you are trying to accomplish. Are you looking “just” to have each employee increase his or her sales performance? Looking to reward your team for up-selling or cross-selling particular products? Aiming at changing the soft stuff (more friendly disposition when on a call, improved teamwork between colleagues, etc.)? It may be all or one of these. But you need to set realistic goals.


  1. Set up a timeline. We cannot underscore enough the importance of a contest calendar. For one, you’ll be able to plan (and budget for!) in advance, rather than panic on a Friday afternoon to figure out what the bleep type of contest you’ll start on the Monday.Second, it will force you to regularly hold contests, rather than improvise (which employees always see right that type of panic-button, bric-à-brac contest anyway) or relegate the task to one behemoth of a contest once a year that a) does motivate employees sustainably throughout the year and b) often favours only your very top performers; and then you wonder why your other employees have checked out of the building with Elvis?


  1. Determine your employees’ personas. We’re not asking you to become a shrink, but let’s face it, you’re creating contests to motivate and engage your employees. If you’re contest ideas are sports-themed, for example, and none of your employees even enjoys sports, you’ve lost the battle before it has even begun. Are you a major Jedi or Star Trek geek? Well, good for you. But do your employees share the love? It’s not about you, it’s about them. Naturally, you’ll have to make some generalizations about your team, but nevertheless, take the time to get to know your staff (which you should be doing anyways!). Find out what makes them tick individually and be on the lookout for team dynamics and affinities between sub-groups. There are some great contest ideas just waiting to be discovered.


  1. Stop the cookie-cutter contest insanity! Psst! Here’s the holy grail of tips for your sales contest ideas: for the love of your team and humanity, don’t do the same ol’, same ol’ contests all the time! They’re predictable. They’re mind-numbingly boring. They don’t keep your employees’ mojos alight. Sure, some may be tried-tested-and-true. But you may be surprised at how better your team’s performance could be if you spiced things up.Hold individual contests to help each employee improve and group contests to foster team spirit. Fire things up by inciting people to achieve new levels or records. There are a variety of different contest approaches that can really do wonders for your employees’ motivation and long-term engagement.

    And one last word to the wise: ditch the draw. Draws don’t have a lot of impact on your employees will to go the extra mile. Ok, sure, their names can be added more than once to that old-school fish bowl, but even if they have a bazillion of chances of winning your draw, the end result is that the “champion” is always random. Debbie Downer who underperforms day in, day out, has a chance to win again. Polident Paul with sales that are always through the roof. Now, how is that fair to anybody?


  1. Reward ‘em with things that count. Studies abound, you cannot win bees with money—at least not alone. Of course, a decent salary and bonuses are appreciated. But that’s the baseline. Even gift cards and coupons can only get you so far: they’re fleeting if not completely forgotten in a drawer or wallet.What really gets employees stoked? Think experiences (with the family or colleagues), such as a half-day off-site activity or going to a concert. Think ways to make their lives easier, like a bit of time off for personal errands or volunteer work. Offer to have their car cleaned for them. Give winners access to a closer parking spot for a day.
    Think outside the box and you’ll see that these seemingly lower-rewards-on-the-financial-totem-pole may actually be low hanging fruit. Added bonus: they may even help you to slash your reward expenses! Booya!

Sales contests and sales contest ideas do take a bit of effort, but when planned in advanced and with a dash of creative thinking, they be more effective and take less time to carry out. Don’t pooh-pooh the importance of sales contests for employees. They do work, when done right. Now, go out there and strut your sales contest stuff!

Need more inspiration? Download our latest ebook on employee motivation and engagement.

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