Do you love to win or hate to lose?

New Call-to-actionSomeone once told me that a good indicator of competitiveness is how someone answers the question, “What creates a more intense emotion – when you win, or when you lose?” The most competitive people will tell you that losing is a deeper, more emotional feeling than when they win. They want to win so badly that losing just makes them depressed, dejected, and flat out angry. Winning is rewarding, but also expected.

I grew up outside of Buffalo, NY and to this day that town is more haunted by Scott Norwood’s field goal miss, than anyone would still be elated if the Bills had won Super Bowl XXV. I think more people remember the miss than remember who won that game. I’m actually getting angry just writing about it.

Salespeople are known to be a highly competitive bunch. This is why sales managers create dashboards, reports, leaderboards on whiteboards, talk about the “big sales” at team meetings, etc. Salespeople seek that feeling of winning and being recognized because they’re so competitive.

I talk to sales managers and heads of sales operations from companies big and small every day, and because of our business, we talk about ideas to motivate salespeople. I hear all kinds of thoughts on sales contests and competitions to motivate sales teams. Managers are creating competitive environments to rally people together and create excitement around some specific goal. Often, winning doesn’t mean people get a big prize. Bragging rights and just being named the winner is enough.

Here are some great sales competitions I’ve heard about recently:

The Quest for Kevin

A sales manager at runs a very simple monthly contest within his 12 person team. Whoever sells the most in the month gets a Kevin doll (the character from the movie Up) to put on their desk. This is all about bragging rights and creating some fun competition within the team. Really simple, and his reps love it.

Patty’s Pot ‘O Gold

A client of ours ran a contest with a St. Patrick’s Day theme. Salespeople were rewarded points when closing deals that had certain products included. Pretty standard stuff, but what made the contest interesting was the manager had a Salesforce Chatter group for the contest to encourage some collaboration (also known as trash talking). The manager said they’ve never seen that kind of engagement with a contest before. Using Chatter is a great way to keep the competition vibrant.

First to Sell + Activity Scoreboard

A technology company we work with was launching a new product, and wanted to rally their team around taking it to market quickly. Whoever sold the product first would win a weekend trip to New York. Pretty cool idea, but what made the contest idea great was a leaderboard that awarded salespeople with points every time they pitched the product or created a new sales opportunity with the product included. This way, the team was motivated to be as active as possible and could see their peers earning points for taking the product to market.

Industry Quest

This is one we ran at ePrize that was a big success. For months our marketing team was asking the sales team to update their accounts in Salesforce to include the industry field, which wasn’t getting much traction. This would help marketing run targeted campaigns by industry. So we tried a simple contest – when you complete the industry field on your accounts, you get 1 point. Everyone in the division who got the most points won a $10 gift card to Starbucks. In 10 days, over 1,500 accounts were updated, or 90% of all accounts in Salesforce. It wasn’t the prize that motivated, it was the competition and leaderboards.

Team Achievement

A sales team at HubSpot runs a contest to motivate not only sales achievement, but also to get the team working together. Each month, if the selected sales team is a certain amount over the monthly sales target, the entire team has a party. Depending on the month, this could be anything from a team dinner party to a trip to a local sporting event. A great way to build up a winning sales culture, get people working together, and also get them out to have some fun together.

Salespeople are competitive by nature, so tap into it. It’s a great way to motivate and have some fun along the way. If you haven’t seen it, make sure to check out our Sales Contest Toolkit. Some great ideas on how to structure a high impact competition to motivate your sales team.

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