Using Sales Contests to Break Habits & Spark New Behaviors

Sales ContestsHabit is defined as “an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.” I once read that it can take 30 days of concerted effort to make something a habit. That’s a pretty powerful idea, actually, that you could push yourself for 30 days to make something a habit. Here is a great TED talk on the topic.

Applying this to the world of sales, salespeople often get stuck in habits that may be detrimental to the company and their own results. Sales managers do what they can to change those habits, but it’s not as easy as a few coaching conversations.

Take social media for example. Look at all the resources available to make someone a smarter seller and more in tune with market needs, client interests, and competitor activity.

Considering how valuable they can be, why don’t all salespeople use LinkedIn, Twitter and/or Facebook every day? Is it really because they don’t believe they will help, or because they haven’t made the effort to learn about these new tools and build new habits?

A Duke study estimated that 45% of the choices we make every day are based on habits versus conscious decisions. As you work with your own sales teams, think about the habits people are stuck in that you want to help them break through.

Below are techniques sales managers and sales operations staff commonly use to shake things up and prevent their teams from getting into bad habits. Many of them are seeing that adding some competition via sales contests will stimulate spikes in activity.

Short Burst Changes

Managers are often in a position where they need to fuel a burst of activity within a given week or month. These short-burst changes break the team away from what it would do normally and solve quick business needs:

  • Schedule more client meetings because we were behind goal last week
  • Find more sales opportunities because we’re pacing behind this month
  • Fill out a blank field in Salesforce to support an upcoming marketing or lead generation campaign
  • Pitch a new product to clients
  • Add more opportunities to the pipeline to support next month’s sales goal
  • Progress opportunities forward in the pipeline so they don’t get stale
  • Close deals this week versus next

Long Term Changes

While short term changes are about driving a quick spike in a needed activity, the list below fosters behavioral changes that help sustain long-term growth and success:

  • Use as your primary source of client information
  • Log client meetings into Salesforce following your companies definitions
  • Complete the right fields in sales opportunities to fulfill orders correctly
  • Post ideas and meeting slides into Chatter so others can benefit
  • Post questions to Chatter versus emailing the entire sales organization

There are many other techniques sales managers often use to motivate their teams and change behaviors. These are a few I hear about every day. What behaviors are you trying to drive?

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