Internal sales contests are a a common strategy to motivate a sales team, and get your employees rallied around a specific activity to drive results. However, all too often they go awry either because it wasn’t setup correctly, or the sales manager didn’t put in the necessary time to make it work. Following is a summary of the four most important elements to run a successful sales competition.
1. Keep It Simple
Salespeople are busy people (and so are you) and the good ones have a high sense of urgency. This means short attention spans so keep it simple. As a sales manager, it’s really tempting to create a contest that tries to motivate all kinds of behaviors.
The problem is that if you have too much going on, the team will get confused and just keep doing what they do every day. When that happens you’re not really changing behavior. You’re just tallying up entries and giving away awards for things people are already doing. Pick 1 or 2 things you want the team focused on, announce it, and tell them to have at it.
2. Have Real Time Results Available
This is one of the key benefits of using a sales CRM system like Salesforce.com. Salespeople log their activities and you can provide real-time reports. Keep that report readily accessible so salespeople can see where they stand at all times.
If you’re challenged to get salespeople logging things correctly in Salesforce.com, a contest is a great way to drive adoption. The report tells you who wins so if your reps want in on the game, they need to put it in Salesforce. Basing contest results on the reports is a fast way to motivate adoption, and it forces you as the manager to be clear about expectations and definitions of what gets logged and how.
3. Short Bursts are Best
This is similar to point #1 of keeping it simple. Take advantage of salespeople’s natural sense of urgency by running your contests in short bursts of time to get the sales team rallied and focused. If you have 1 or 2 behaviors you’re trying to motivate, you might run a contest that runs for just one or two weeks. In certain cases you might even run something for a day. Three months is the longest most contests should run, and even that’s probably too long.
Key note here… President’s Club type contests are okay to run for long periods of time. I’d call those more compensation specific contests, which are completely appropriate and can be very effective. However, those are different than using a quick burst sales contest to react to your need to build pipeline for next month, get people to pitch a new product launch, hit their quotas this month, or quickly follow-up on open leads from a trade show.
4. Keep it Top of Mind
While having a real-time report is a key to success, you still need people to look at it. I’ve heard many examples of a sales manager announcing a sales competition to the team and everyone is all excited. Then 4 weeks later the sales manager announces the winner, and the salespeople are thinking, “Oh, yeah I forgot about that. I wonder how I did?” Oops! Another example of not really changing behavior.
Make sure you’re communicating the standings on a regular basis, including a reminder of how to earn entries, how to win, what the rewards are, and the timeline. Nobody likes looking at a leaderboard and seeing themselves low on the list. Plus, it’s easy to forget how the contest works so keep that in front of people so they can try to catch-up. Regularly communicate the standings in team meetings, via email, and via Chatter if you’re using Salesforce.com.
Now let’s hear from you
There are many nuances to running a sales contest that motivates your sales team. What other tips can you share? Have you tried any of the points above? Add a comment below and let us know your experiences and ideas.
For more details on the four keys above, a case study of the four keys in action, and other helpful resources…