I had a discussion the other day with a sales manager at a client site. He was crafting a contest to try to spur some additional activity and business. He asked for my thoughts on how to structure a sales contest that wins, so I thought I would share.

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Here Are Three Concepts That Will Help You Create A Winning Sales Contest:

1) Reward The Behavior You Want:

When constructing a sales contest, be sure that you are rewarding the behavior you want. If your goal is to increase sales, then the reward could come from the number of first appointments. If you know your team’s closing ratios, the number of first appointments will predict a certain level of new business. Maybe the number needs to be a certain percentage above and beyond their standard requisite number of appointments in order to incent additional activity and, ultimately, sales. If, however, you haven’t established a baseline of what the expected level of activity is for your people then this doesn’t work very well. But don’t just make it about a certain number of phone calls or cold calls. That will incent people to just do an activity that doesn’t necessarily drive business. Anyone can make a huge number of BAD cold calls just to win a prize for a certain time period. This is not the behavior we want to reward.

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2) Allow Everyone To Win – Not Just One Winner:

Rather than having a “winner take all” game, build a sales contest where essentially everyone could win. Make it so that your “winners” have to truly have executed at a higher level than the norm. Make it a stretch, but make it attainable for all. The risk of having a contest with only one winner is that at some point, people will quit on the contest because they believe they cannot win. Also, you don’t want to fall into the trap of the same person always being set up to win it. If the idea behind the contest is to get folks motivated to reach and do more than is typical, then you want everyone engaged and working towards a win for the whole contest length.

3) Make Them Tell You What Their Prize Will Be:

Rather than stressing over what prize you will offer the winners, let the salespeople select their own prize. You can set the monetary value of the prize, but it will be much more tangible and meaningful to each individual if the salesperson gets to select his own prize. But, they must tell you what prize they are working for before the contest begins. If you want to have some control over the prizes, provide an array that they can choose from and have each person choose. Make the prize selection diverse.

These are just a few quick tips to conduct a more powerful sales contest. It is a great time of year to run a contest so that the laggards throughout the year don’t just give up, and also so the sales leaders don’t coast. Read more about why you should consider a fourth quarter sales contest to get a strong start in 2015.

If you’ve had success with implementing a sales contest for your sales team, let us know what worked for you in the comments!

Want more ideas about how to motivate without bonuses?

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