Resist the Temptation! Keep Your Sales Contests Simple

Sales Contests[Cameron is a Customer Success Manager at LevelEleven]

When we talk with customers about running successful sales contests, one of the first things we say is: “Don’t overcomplicate it!” Sounds easy, right? Not always. It can be very tempting to want to motivate everything that’s important to making sales, as opposed to keying in on what really moves the needle most. I wanted to further illustrate a common scenario, and demonstrate why you should resist the temptation to overdo it when looking for a boost in sales performance.

Imagine This Scenario

One morning you, a sales rep, come into the office. You have a sales quota you need to reach and are sincerely driven to help your company succeed. Your manager shares four items that she would like you to focus on for the week in addition to your typical workload:

  • You need to call and pitch a new product to some leads that were recently captured. They should be good leads, she says, so get on the phone and work some magic!
  • Many of your existing accounts are only using one or two of the several products you offer, so you should set up meetings and demo the various products for them in an attempt to grow those accounts.
  • A new marketing campaign in Salesforce is going to begin and you’ll need to go through your contacts and determine which ones should be added. She says you’ll win some deals because of it, even though it may take some time to set up.
  • You also need to spend more time on the phone with prospects when you call them, because more time engaging them should increase the likelihood of a sale. She wants you to log your call times more diligently and keep a close eye on whether it helps for the coming month.

After all of this, you still only have a fixed number of hours in the day and they’re all precious. You’re honestly not even sure where to start. While all those requests are important, are they demanding action or a sense of feeling overwhelmed?

Now Imagine This

You walk into the office that same morning and meet with your manager, and instead of being overwhelmed with several new tasks that need attention she has a simpler approach. She wants you to focus on setting up face-to-face meetings with the opportunities you’re working on, because doing so has shown to close deals at a higher percentage and a higher average value — which is ultimately what you want. There are still other tasks that need attention, of course, but this is what you’ll need to focus on most today — and doing so helps both you and the company see the results you need.

That’s actionable!

When a leader takes this approach and then adds some visibility around the behavior being focused on with tools like leaderboards and increased recognition, you now have a sales contest that’s seriously moving the needle on a crucial metric, instead of budging the needle on a million different things.

A Proven Approach

You’ve probably seen articles arguing for a similar approach, because focusing on one thing at a time is proven to be a more effective way to manage tasks and improve productivity. When you split your attention between many different focuses, typically they all get watered down as a result.

Even so, you might be thinking that your business environment is complex and requires an approach that reflects those complexities. Many businesses are complex, but this is why strong management is still so important. Good managers should be taking things that are complex and simplifying them for their team, so they can rally around what’s important and avoid getting lost in the details.

So next time you’re thinking of putting together a sales contest to spike performance, remember: Keep it simple and focus your team around what matters most. In the end, you’ll be more likely to see real, tangible results where you need them — as opposed to marginal results across the board.

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