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October 4, 2022

7 Components of a Successful Sales Competition

To hit growing revenue targets, sales managers need to look beyond overall team success and towards rep motivation to ensure all members of their team are happy, engaged, and committed to hitting their goals.

Sales leaders who understand that a motivated team is as essential as a skilled team are the ones who can uplift and inspire reps to celebrate the wins and push through the rejection. With that in mind, one of the best ways to keep your team motivated and engaged in their day-to-day is to structure well-thought-out sales competitions with defined behaviors you're looking to drive.

In this article, we'll lay out the seven components a of successful sales competition and contest ideas and prizes we find effective!

7 Components of a Successful Sales Competition

1. Make it short and simple

To make a sales competition effective, you must ensure adoption and buy-in across the team. It should be easy to understand the rules, how to win, and what the current leaderboard is. Don't make your team jump through hoops to start, progress, and win. Engagement will undoubtedly take a hit if your competition isn't easy to understand.

Before rolling your competition out to the team, ask yourself these questions. If you can't answer them in under a few sentences, it's time to go back to the drawing board.

  1. What is the goal of this contest
  2. How do you win the contest
  3. What are the prizes

Don't create your contest in a silo. What makes sense to you may not make sense to everyone. Reach out to other managers or a senior rep to test the simplicity before presenting the competition to your team. This is a good litmus test to see if you missed anything or need to rethink the structure of your contest. 

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2. Set clear, short-term objectives

Before structuring your contest, you need to understand exactly what behavior you're trying to motivate your reps to take. By focusing on a clear objective, your reps can focus on the activities needed to achieve that objective. In addition, make sure your objectives are set in the short term. Your competitions should be structured to influence incremental behavior towards a longer-term goal. 

For example, if the pipeline is lacking, you might consider creating a contest around most emails sent or most meetings booked. By setting short-term goals, you can help your team focus on the actions needed to reach larger milestones like pipeline and revenue generation.

3. Keep it fun

One of the most critical aspects of your sales competition is team engagement. I find that structuring your contest with a sense of levity is a great way to make your contests something your team looks forward to. One of the best ways to inject fun into your competitions is to make fun prizes. Not every prize needs to be monetarily based, especially for contests that want to influence short-term behaviors to drive the team towards incremental behavioral changes. Here's a list of fun competition prize ideas for you to try out during your next sales competition.

  1. Boss buys the winner's lunch for a week
  2. Winner gets to name a room for a month
  3. Lunch with the company CEO
  4. Winner gets to assign their manager a task to complete
  5. Present an award at a company meeting
  6. Boss has to wash the winner's car
  7. Winner gets the day off
  8. Winner gets the best parking spot for a month
4. Let your team help plan the competition

Do you want to know how to ensure your team is fully invested in the competition? Let them help plan it! Come to your team with a pre-identified objective and an understanding of what behaviors you are trying to drive, and let them decide some of the rules and prizes. This will help ensure your reps: 

  • Are invested in the competition
  • Have a sense of control over the outcome of the competition
  • Are excited about the competition prizes
  • Have ownership of the decisions being made for the team as a whole
5. Make sure everyone has a chance to win

One mistake sales managers can make when structuring a competition is only focusing on KPIs and metrics a select few reps can hit. Your competitions should focus on driving behaviors all reps can achieve, not on lofty revenue goals only top performers can meet. 

Competitions can be a great way to engage lower-performing reps and encourage them to take actions that are two or three steps removed from actually closing deals. This can help lower performers load the top of their pipeline while also encouraging your top performers to follow best practices they might otherwise overlook. Here are a few competition ideas that are relevant to both high and low performers:

1. Most customer reviews 

Reward your reps for gathering the most customer reviews. This content can help highlight reps with the best customer relationships while building trust for your company.

2. Most emails sent

This contest rewards sales reps actively reaching out to prospects in your CRM. This is a great way to reward lower-performing reps while ensuring your prospects don't go cold.

3. Cleanest Pipeline

No one likes a messy pipeline. Reward reps for keeping up to date on their pipeline, including sales status, the probability to close, and any other pipeline metrics you track.

6. Give frequent updates

One tip to ensure your sales reps stay engaged in your competition is to give frequent updates and display your competition leaderboard in an area reps can easily find. Giving daily or weekly updates outside your leaderboards is vital to highlight top performers and leaderboard movement. 

Nothing spurs competition like announcing a team member has moved up or down in the running for the top prize. If your reps don't know how they are performing against competition goals and milestones, they will lose interest and not take the behaviors you're looking to drive.

7. Understand what motivates your team

One of the most critical aspects of your competition is ensuring your reps are motivated by it. The last thing you want is to spend time and money setting up competition and securing a prize only to find out reps aren't interested in participating or receiving the reward at the end. This touches on one of our previous tips "Let your team help plan the competition." 

Before even thinking about setting up a sales competition, you need to understand how your reps and team are motivated, and one of the best ways to understand this is to ask them. Let your reps weigh in and agree on a prize, and make sure you switch up prize types from competition to competition to ensure all team members have an opportunity to win something meaningful to them.

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Tag(s): Sales

Jay Peterson

Jay Peterson is the Startup Segment Sales Manager at New Breed. Jay is a career sales professional and is passionate about helping startups grow and scale their businesses.

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