I’ve coached a lot of sales managers and leaders on how to drive business with their teams. One of the most common tools they reach for is the sales contest. They tend to think that a good sales contest is the panacea for all their issues – that the only thing keeping their people from having explosive results is a mix of excitement and fear…
Most sales contests, however, fail to create meaningful change. They usually end up rewarding top performers (who would have produced great results anyways) and demotivating those on the team who could really use the help. Too often they end up being an afterthought that gets thrown into the mix half-heartedly, or in the end forgotten about altogether.
To avoid that from happening to your sales contests, and to ensure that your sales contests lead to better sales performance, keep these key ideas in mind:
1. Focus on activity – Many sales managers think that the purpose of a sales contest is to drive results, but really the goal is to drive activities… that create results. There are always a small number of sales activities that actually lead to greater results – it may be phone calls, appointments, proposals, etc. – and those should be the focus of your sales contests. Get your people excited about increasing activity, and the results will come.
2. Talk about the contest constantly – The main reason you have a sales contest is give yourself a new way to talk about daily sales activities. Your team should already be doing these as a part of their day-to-day work; but a sales contest gives us a fresh way to frame what the sales team is doing and creates a buzz. It’s easy for people to acclimate to the same old message – a good sales contest gets your people out of the rut.
3. Keep it short – Sales contests should be short and sweet. The longer it is, the more likely you are to let it slip to the backburner. Even worse, your team could bored with it and then it loses its effectiveness – and people can actually become demotivated. Sales contests should rarely go longer than a month, and always be sure to establish a solid (and well-publicized) end-point.
And a bonus tip…
4. Get excited – Sales contests are a great way to share your enthusiasm with your team and have some fun. The more fired-up you are for your people and their success, the better the results will be. Let’s face it, you can fall into the same “time to make the doughnuts” mentality that your team can. Use sales contests to shake things up for everyone and to reignite your passion.