One of the best ways to inspire your sales team to boost their performance is by hosting a contest. They’re a fun way to encourage some healthy competition among your sales team and break up the monotony of everyday work. Competitive challenges incentivize reps to flex their sales skills and crush their goals.
Sales contests also enable leaders to publicly recognize all of their team’s hard work, which helps boost employee satisfaction and engagement. Nearly 44% of employees would consider jobs if they don’t receive adequate recognition, so demonstrating appreciation for their achievements is essential for sales leaders looking to retain their top talent. And, in addition to reenergizing your reps and improving morale, a little friendly competition can increase your team's bottom line margin by a whopping 45%.
Below, we’ll outline some best practices for kicking off a sales contest that drives engagement and performance, and walk through 15 ideas to get you started.
Properly incentivizing your team through a sales contest requires some forethought and consideration. The challenge, of course, is striking the right balance between a contest that stimulates good-hearted rivalry versus one that creates a cutthroat, antagonistic environment among the team.
To create a sales contest that prompts participation and boosts engagement (without breeding contempt), try implementing these key best practices:
Reward reps for a mix of metrics, KPIs, and front-end activity: Every rep has their own strengths and weaknesses, so building a contest that revolves around a single metric is neither fair nor fun. A new rep, for example, may have a real knack for booking initial meetings with prospects, but hasn’t yet been around long enough to close a substantial amount of deals. If you were to evaluate contestants based on the number of deals they’ve booked alone, that new rep likely wouldn’t be motivated by or engaged in the competition. Instead, find a healthy mix of metrics (e.g. number of meetings booked), KPIs (deal win rate), and front-end activities (e.g. number of hours spent prospecting) to encourage participation across all team members, regardless of experience or tenure.
Mix competition and luck: By combining competitive performance with luck, you introduce an element of surprise and ensure equal opportunity. For instance, reps can earn raffle tickets for each achievement or accomplishment they reach over a given time period. At the end of that period, they can submit their raffle tickets into a drawing to win a grand prize. With this approach, everyone on the team (not just your top performers) has a fair shot at winning — keeping team members at every level engaged and competitive.
Leverage staff input: One way to guarantee your team will want to take part in a sales contest is by asking them to help you create it. From rules, to criteria, to rewards, to timeline, collecting employee input will help leaders better understand which KPIs their team prioritizes and what it is they’re motivated to work toward.
Create opportunities for growth: Team-based sales contests are an effective way to foster camaraderie and open the door for peer-to-peer learning. As you build your teams, pair veteran SDRs with newer reps. That way, your top-performers will be compelled to share their best practices, collaborate on wins, and pass on their knowledge and expertise to your newbies.
Celebrate success: Recognition is one of the driving factors of any good sales contest; but showing your appreciation shouldn’t just be limited to a single winner. Throughout the duration of the competition, acknowledge wins large and small to demonstrate your appreciation of all your team’s hard work. This will ensure everyone remains engaged and individuals don't lose interest if and when they realize they’re no longer in the running to win the grand prize.
There are myriad contests from which you can choose, depending on your team’s size, your company’s goals, your preferred timeline, what your reps are motivated by, and your budget for rewards. Here are 15 of the most effective, engaging, and fun competitions that will inspire your team to succeed:
Raffle-based contests are a great way to even the playing field across your entire team and reward both short- and long-term achievements. Set specific goals and targets for a wide variety of activities, metrics, and timelines (e.g. number of emails sent over a given time period, number of deals closed at the end of a quarter, etc.) and hand out raffle tickets to team members as they reach those goals. Then, at the end of the month, quarter, or year, pool together everyone’s tickets and hold a raffle drawing to determine the contest’s winner.
Sales poker is similar to a raffle in that it incorporates both luck and skill: And it only requires a cheap plastic roulette wheel and some faux poker chips. Pick a few metrics (like booked demos, booked meetings, closed deals, etc.) against which team members will compete for an opportunity to ‘spin the wheel’.
Then, each time a rep reaches a pre-established goal tied to one of those metrics, have them spin the roulette wheel. Whatever number they land on should correspond to the number of poker chips they receive. At the end of the month or quarter, each rep can take their poker chips to a no-limit poker table and try their luck. The final winner gets bragging rights and a grand prize.
Not only does sales poker encourage your reps to perform at their highest-possible level; it also boosts team morale and creates a sense of community. Reps can cheer one another on throughout the poker game and build on their card-playing skills, too.
Instead of pitting individuals against one another, try grouping reps together for a more collaborative contest. With a team vs. team competition, your greener reps are paired with your most highly-skilled sellers. Instead of looking at overall team performance, evaluate teams against their improvements. As new reps make significant strides (across multiple metrics, KPIs, and activities), the whole team gains points.
Top-sellers lend a helping hand, offer words of wisdom, or share their tips for success with novice reps — and get a better chance at winning the final prize. It's a win-win scenario that gets newer salespeople ramped up more quickly and gives experts a chance to show off their skills.
If your team’s morale is low or they seem to be in a sales funk, a scavenger hunt is a great way to enhance their excitement and push them out of their comfort zone. Build a list of several different targets that reps must meet in order to complete their scavenger hunt. This might include breaking into a new sales territory, closing a deal of a particular size, or accomplishing a certain number of upsells. The first seller to achieve every goal on the list is crowned the winner; but don’t forget to recognize everyone’s accomplishments along the way!
On average, reps only spend a third of their time on selling activities. It’s an issue that can be largely resolved by automating repetitive, time-consuming administrative tasks, but other distractions threaten productivity, too.
To drive rep efficiency and stop them from dragging their feet on those less desirable (yet, still crucial) sales activities, try starting an activity scoring contest. List out all the daily activities your reps execute (e.g. emailing, calling, scheduling meetings, booking demos, following up, etc.) and assign a value to each. It’s great to assign a higher number to the highest-value tasks, of course, but it can also be incredibly effective to assign higher numbers to those peskier actions, too (lookin’ at you, no response follow-ups).
At the end of a predetermined time period, total up the score of each rep to find your winner. It’s a simple, fun way to encourage your team to ignore those outside distractions and accomplish more throughout the day, particularly if they work from home.
Just like in a fantasy football league, you can draft your reps into teams and assign them different metrics — based on job title, responsibilities, tenure, etc. This contest allows you to structure the weight of your teams on a relatively equal basis, then pit them against each other on a weekly basis. Weekly winners get prizes, and prizes increase in value as the ‘season’ progresses.
At the end of the final week, host a Super Bowl lunch or happy hour, where winners are announced and recognized. Reps can root for one another and teammates can collaborate to reach their goals, increasing camaraderie and expertise across sellers of every level.
In the sales world, data is everything. Reps work tirelessly to hit their targets and contribute to revenue goals, and their progress is consistently measured and discussed. Sometimes, though, the best way to motivate your team is by recognizing those who go above and beyond to support their colleagues and the organization as a whole.
At the end of each quarter, try awarding one rep with the title of MVP. This should be a seller who regularly demonstrates their desire to not only achieve their own success, but also lends a helping hand to others when they need it. It could be a tenured salesperson who goes out of their way to share their knowledge with newer reps, or a greener rep who has shown their excitement, drive, and moxy in their short time at the company.
No matter how much a salesperson loves their job, they’re usually ready to let loose and blow off some steam at the end of a long week. If your team faces a relatively slow Friday afternoon, try a team-wide contest that encourages collaboration and support.
Establish a clear target across the entire team or department and set a finish time (e.g. 3pm). Reps can cheer each other on to reach that goal by the cutoff time and, if they succeed, can call it a day. This fosters a sense of community while also pushing reps to maintain productivity during otherwise quiet days.
Reps frequently get discouraged if they hear too many “no’s,” but this contest turns rejection into win. Over the course of the day, week, or month, measure the number of rejections each rep receives. At the end of the established period, reward the rep who racked up the highest number of “no’s.”
In a profession where rejection can feel like a failure, this competition recognizes reps’ efforts instead of their outcomes. It motivates sellers to keep chugging along and to follow up with silent buyers; two crucial elements of any effective sales team.
Sometimes the biggest motivator is simply the desire to not finish last. With the loser contest, leaders can pick any metric (or a variety of metrics) against which they’ll measure their reps over a specific time period. At the end of the period, the seller in last place must pay a pre-established amount toward a group event, charity donation, team lunch, or other fund. Keep in mind, the fee should be something relatively small (like 20 bucks) so the loser doesn’t break the bank at the end of the contest.
Lead conversion competitions are a fun way to land new customers while leveling the playing field. At the beginning of the contest, managers should randomly hand out new leads to each rep. This ensures a fair, luck-based mix of leads, so each seller has an equal chance of receiving high-quality prospects.At the end of the competition, the salesperson who managed to convert the most leads from their list into sales wins.
If you’re looking for an exciting way to get your team to rally together for a common cause, try a reps vs. manager sales battle. These contests typically work best when completed over the course of a single day, as managers usually can’t carve out a whole lot of time for rep-related activities.
Choose a single metric (e.g. emails sent, meetings booked, or demos scheduled) and see if any individual rep can beat the team’s manager before time’s up. If any one rep outscores the manager, the whole team wins a prize; but if the manager wins, the team must deliver a pre-established reward.
If your company has multiple offices in one location, create a little office-to-office competition to drive performance and team spirit. Establish some ground rules (like weighted scores based on the number of reps in each office) and set your metrics, then determine your timeline.
At the end of the week, month, or quarter, measure which office outperformed the others and reward that team with recognition and/or a valuable prize. It’s important to note that this type of contest can only truly work — and remain fair — if each office utilizes the same sales tools for tracking and measuring their metrics.
Some sellers are most driven by their own progress; so setting them up for a challenge against their peers won’t motivate them as much as a contest that highlights their individual growth. Plus, it’s essential for reps to recognize the areas in which they’ve developed, as well as those that might still need some work.
Pick a period of time and have reps compete against their own past performance across several different metrics. In your weekly internal team email updates or during your team meetings, take the time to recognize the sellers who have made significant strides in different areas. Then, at the end of the contest, reward the overall most-improved rep with a larger prize.
Running a sales contest for remote teams can be tricky, as a virtual work environment hinders the camaraderie that’s usually found in team-wide competitions. To ensure you remote sellers start the week off on the right foot, try implementing a Monday morning contest.
For one hour each Monday morning (or on the first Monday of every month), pick an activity or metric that reps should strive to achieve. Encourage them to dedicate that hour to beating their peers out for the winning title to get them motivated to remain as productive as possible throughout the week. Reward the winner with fun prizes (like a Starbucks gift card) or points they can accumulate each Monday to save up for a larger prize (like a new iPad).
Sales contests are an amusing, creative way to boost your team’s efficiency and output. But legacy SalesTech — like systems that require manual data entry or disparate point solutions — make it harder for sellers to do their jobs. They inhibit productivity and kill your team’s motivation, even if you have a well-defined contest or incentive program. For any incentive-based program to be truly valuable, leaders must enable their reps with the tools they need to feel inspired, engaged, empowered, and successful.
Enter, Outreach Guide. Sales teams that use Outreach achieve better performance and talent retention because they give sellers more time to work and close deals by scaling their most effective
sales motions. Read more about how you can achieve winning outcomes across your entire revenue cycle with Outreach Guide, or request a demo.