Using Competition to Motivate Your Sales Team

For a sales manager, finding ways to motivate a sales team is a constant challenge. Because salespeople operate under considerable pressure, the occasional slump is inevitable. Slow periods in the business cycle, lack of consumer interest and personal stress can sap a salesperson’s enthusiasm.

Motivate Your Sales TeamWhen performance is down, a sales contest can reignite the spirit of competition among sales team members. Because sales professionals tend to be competitive by nature, the drive to outperform colleagues can be a powerful motivator. The competition alone is highly motivating, but layering on some type of prize or reward sweetens the deal and gives salespeople something to work toward.

Sales competitions also benefit businesses. When done well, they support sales goals, inspire individual performance improvements and fosters collaboration.

Keep It Focused & Keep It Short

Effective sales contests are designed around specific business goals: expanding into a new industry sector, taking a new product to market, booking client meetings, or even just following-up on leads. Competition criteria must be challenging but achievable. Most importantly, the contest must have a distinct start and end point; it is difficult to maintain a high level of excitement over a long period of time. 30-days is an ideal contest length.

Raising Team Energy Levels

In addition to the financial benefits to the company and the individual, sales contests can raise the morale of the entire team. The excitement surrounding a contest is contagious, and strong competition encourages friendly banter. The tighter the race, the more the entire office will get in on the fun. During slow months, a contest can raise the energy level of the sales team and give employees something to look forward to.

Cash or Non-Cash Prizes?

There is some debate about whether cash or non-cash prizes are more effective in motivating a sales team. While money is useful, it is usually used to fulfill employees’ practical needs rather than an indulgent reward; this can dull the excitement of winning. Non-cash prizes like vacations or restaurant gift certificates have no alternative, which means that employees can enjoy them without guilt and are more likely to talk about it with others. In the end, the most effective incentive will depend on the needs and personalities of the individual sales team. What works for one team might not necessarily motivate another.

Many managers shy away from sales competitions, believing that the hassle is not worth the payoff. Traditional sales contests are difficult to manage; the administrator ends up spending a great deal of time tracking progress, updating the results and sharing the information with the team. Although the contest may motivate a sales team, managers may not have the time to run the contest while handling their normal workload.

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