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7 sales contest ideas that work well and are easy to implement

7 sales contest ideas that work well and are easy to implement

7 sales contest ideas that work well and are easy to implement

It’s challenging to manage a sales team. Keeping everyone motivated and performing well at all times is not easy.

Diarmuid Glynn
Diarmuid Glynn

May 16, 2022


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There will be times when morale is low because business is slow and deals are dragging out. How can you help your team recover it’s mojo? Remedying these problems often requires behavioral changes: increasing collaboration or encouraging some friendly competitiveness.

Sales contests can play a key role in getting your team back on track.

So, what is a sales contest? Why do sales managers use them? And what are some good sales contest ideas for your business? In this article we will outline how to use a sales contest and suggest 7 sales contest ideas that could work for you.

What is a sales contest?

A sales contest is a game for your sales teams that runs for a fixed amount of time, typically with a non-financial reward for the winner. A sales contest nudges your team towards certain goals via gamification.

When do you use a sales contest?

The three main reasons for running a sales contest are 1) to boost morale, 2) for team building and (3) to achieve specific business outcomes.

  • ⚡Boost morale
  • Sometimes business is slow, and this is often seasonal. For example when your customers go on holiday, or once yearly budgets are spent. A sales contest helps you bridge an otherwise quiet period with an exciting competition.
  • 🤝 Team building
  • Sales contests are a great way to stimulate collaboration and encourage team building. By creating team contests, colleagues can get to know each other in a casual way.
  • 💬 Specific business outcomes
  • You can also use sales contests to produce specific business results that don’t merit a spiff. For example, to encourage your team to ask customers for testimonials or product reviews, or to share best practices.

What makes a good sales contest?

One very important thing to keep in mind when designing your sales contest is that you want to encourage friendly, not hostile, competition. A fractious contest will do more harm than good to your team culture.

The goal of the contest is to engage the entire team. You don’t want the only the top performers engaged and winning all the prizes while the rest of the team disengage in frustration.

A contest dashboard will increase engagement across your team. A scoreboard will become a fun talking point in the office, and everyone will notice when a new leader emerges.

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Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

What are good sales contest ideas?

Here are seven sales contest ideas that we think work well for most companies:

1. Buddy contest (🤝 Team building)

Everyone is organized into teams of 2, the “buddies”. Pair experienced reps with newcomers. This will give recent additions to the team the opportunity to learn from their colleagues, and will encourage more experienced reps to act as mentors. You can use ordinary sales KPIs for this contest, for example total sales volume per team for Q3.

2. Ocean race (🤝 Team building)

Inspired by the Volvo ocean race, this contest is suitable for durations of between 6 months and a year. If you have multiple sales offices in different countries, you can create country based teams that are “on the same boat”. The teams race against each other, based on certain easy to measure KPIs, for example: number of new customers. The contest can include multiple ‘legs’ to the race, to decrease the chance of a single team dominating the entire race. A visualization of the race, showing teams overtaking each other on the high seas, will become an exciting and fun topic of conversation in the office.

3. Company target (🤝Team building)

The sales team cannot sell well without an effective organization supporting it - so why not run a sales contest that rewards the entire company? You can create a company wide contest for a certain financial goal, such as for the new revenue generated by the end of the year. The prize goes to your entire company, such as a company-wide event. It’s recommended to set several reward levels (for example: “If we achieve X, we are taking you all to a fancy restaurant. But if we achieve Y, everyone will be picked up by limo service as well.”). You don’t want to end  up in a situation where everyone works very hard and just barely falls short of the target, and consequently your entire company is very disappointed to not have achieved any reward or recognition. You might be surprised how well this can motivate your entire organization!

4. Get the most NOs (⚡ Boost morale)

This contest is great for teams that do outbound calls. It’s a counter-intuitive idea to reward your sales development reps for getting the most No’s, but as it turns out, this contest really motivates reps to get back on the phone and try again. In fact, this indirectly rewards the reps that do that most calls. You can run it for a couple weeks during a lull.

5. Gift swap (⚡ Boost morale)

This is a great contest to have some light-hearted fun during the sales year. The concept is simple: you purchase 10-20 wrapped gifts.  When a sales rep closes a deal above a certain threshold in size, they can unwrap a gift. For the next deal that closes, the sales rep can either unwrap a new gift, or steal the gift from the previous rep. The contest continues until all the gifts are gone.

6. Customer reviews (💬 Specific outcome)

A sales contest is a great way to get more testimonials for your company website, or product reviews on third-party platforms. It’s just that extra bit of motivation that is needed for your reps to ask a customer to fill out a survey. The rep who collects the most surveys during a 1 month period wins a prize.

7. Pitch contest (💬 Specific outcome)

This is a great contest to encourage your team to share best practices. Ask all your reps to do a live 2-min elevator pitch to the whole team, and set up an anonymous rating system so that they all can rate each other. Whoever gets the  highest rating wins a prize. You could also run this contest so that instead of a live pitch, everyone competes using a pitch slide deck.

Good luck setting up your own sales contests! And don’t be afraid to get creative with the prizes. Everyone likes an  “I owe you” from the boss: for example, the manager will do your cold calling for a day, or the manager organizes a Karaoke night, taking a central role!

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