Sales contests – band aid or solution?

band aidSales professionals do not concern themselves with corporate budgets or annual revenue projections. Those kinds of numbers are “big picture” numbers that the sales manager should be concerned with. A sales professional concerns himself with producing revenue against his own quota to generate as much income for himself as possible.

One of the most difficult things to do with a sales team full of seasoned professionals is to create a sense of teamwork. Another difficult aspect of sales management is getting your sales people to understand which corporate sales goals are important and which ones are lower on the priority list. Part of positive sales motivation is in getting your sales professionals to understand that they are accountable to the company for results and they are also part of a team that is supposed to work together.

One way that you can achieve teamwork and help to provide focus on company priorities is to use sales contests. Some sales managers avoid using contests because they can seem like an ineffective way to motivate sales representatives that are already driven by their quotas. But you can use sales contests as ways to promote teamwork, allow your sales staff to understand each person’s strengths and weaknesses and achieve company sales objectives for the year.

Working as a Team

One of the reasons why it can be difficult to get sales professionals to work together is that they are often assigned territories of their own and tend to look out for themselves. But when you create a contest that is based on departmental performance, then you are encouraging your sales staff to work together to bring in revenue.

When you do team sales contests for sales motivation, be sure you create some way of preventing individual members from riding on the success of the more prolific sales associates. The best way to do this is to let your staff know that only people who make their quota for the period of the contest will be eligible for the bonus. Encourage your staff to meet once a week to exchange ideas on how to close business and push the group closer to the bonus.


A spiff is a bonus paid for selling a specific unit volume or generating a specific amount of revenue for a predetermined period of time. This is the kind of sales contest that provides focused sales motivation that can become extremely beneficial.

For example, if you have a product that is not selling up to revenue projections, then put a temporary sales contest on it by paying a spiff for each unit sold for a month. In that period of time, your sales professionals will realize the value of the product and start offering it as part of their regular offering.

Sales motivation can come in many forms. When you use sales contests, you are doing more than just putting a band-aid on poor performance. You are helping your sales staff to learn how to work as a team and you are drawing attention to specific company objectives. If a sales professional can make money by selling something, then he will keep selling it well after the sales contest is over.

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