How to Motivate a Sales Team Part 1: Contests

Brandon Gracey
August 19, 2014

As sales people, we live and die on incentive plans.  While of course a big part of incentivizing your team tends to be centered on the end goal - commission - it's important to take a few steps back and think about how you can motivate your team to run harder at exceeding normal targets. One effective way to motivate your team is using sales contests. In part 1 of a series on motivating a sales team, I cover 5 contests you can run to incentivize your team. Next week I'll get into what to incentivize your reps with when they get over the line!

How to Motivate a Sales Team: Contests

1. Focus on group goals

Rising tides raise all ships.  Set a group goal and put a group incentive in front of them.  Need to launch a new product?  Tell the team to hit 110% of the company goal and you’ll let them vote on the location of the next sales meeting.    Still want a little competition?  Take your team and divide them in half where the winning team takes all.  Send out weekly progress updates to fuel the competitive fire and keep everyone aware and involved.

2. Streaks

In the zone.  On a roll.  Feeling it.  Nothing is as effective as the confidence that comes when a sales rep is getting it done day in day out.  Try sending a free gas card to anyone who writes three orders a day for a month.   If one of your reps has a particularly long streak running, let the rest of your team know about it.   Making consistency the aim of a contest encourages everyone else to aim for a similar level of consistency.

3. Volume of orders

Big orders are great; everyone loves a big sale.  The problem is they’re less predictable and harder to replicate.  The other problem is that some territories lend themselves to larger orders than others.  If you throw a bonus at the biggest order, your NYC and LA reps are going to lick their lips, while most of your team considers themselves out of the running.  If you boil it down to “the rep who works the hardest, wins” you’ll get all of your reps aiming for it.   You might end up with a large one here and there, but what you’ll certainly end up with is more products in more places.

4. Quick start

Nothing breeds sales manager anxiety like the end of the month, end of the quarter or end of the year.  Get yourself out of playing catch up by setting a goal of hitting 55% of quota by midway through your sales period.  Let reps discount a bit more for early purchases and encourage them to be creative about getting a jump start.   Your sales people are conditioned to apply a little more pressure as the end of month comes anyway so if they start strong and finish strong you end up with a quota busting month!

5. Take some shelf space

You want to expand your presence with your retailers.  With new products, with more existing products, it doesn’t matter – taking up more space is good for your reps and good for you.  This is critical during pre-book when you’re going to establish your “territory” in every shop for the next season.  Let your reps know how important grabbing more shelves is by having a “new shelf” contest.   Getting more space is great, particularly because if your company is getting more, someone else is getting less. All in all, keep it simple and straightforward. You want to keep everyone informed on how they’re doing, and where they stack up.  Contests are an opportunity to inject something light into a pretty stressful day to day – so keep it fun!  Sales people are competitive; when we’re given the opportunity we’ll jump at a chance to “win” every time. Look out for next week's post on the other half of this equation – the actual incentives! Read 'How to Motivate a Sales Team: Part 2' here!