22 Sales Contest Ideas to Motivate Your Team
Sales contests are a great way to engage, motivate, and reward your sales team.
When they’re implemented effectively, team-wide sales contests help every sales rep feel recognized and valued for their strengths and achievements and can help instill and solidify sales best practices and soft skills.
We look at 22 of the best sales contest ideas below and how to get started.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What Is a Sales Contest?
- Why Should Sales Managers Hold Sales Contests?
- 22 Sales Contest Ideas
- Sales Contest Prize Ideas
- How to Run a Sales Contest
- Sales Contest Best Practices
What Is a Sales Contest?
A sales contest is an internal competition among the members of your sales team. Sales contests are a fun and engaging way to motivate, recognize, and reward your sales reps (and the team as a whole) for productivity, improved performance, and teamwork.
The three main goals of running a sales contest are to:
- Elevate the skillset and overall performance of your bottom and average performers
- Ramp up individual and team productivity
- Improve camaraderie and team morale
It’s important to note that an effective sales contest is decidedly not about acknowledging or rewarding only the best bottom-line results. Teams who get the most benefit from a sales contest program participate in games that are intentionally designed to ensure that everyone has a fair chance to win.
The end result should be collectively-improved performance and morale — regardless of who ultimately wins the contest.
In other words, sales contests should be competitive only to the point of friendly fun; intense competitions that pit sales reps against one another defeat the purpose.Lead your team to successTrack, analyze, and standardize what’s working
Why Should Managers Hold Sales Contests?
Sales contests are a great way to get your team in the selling spirit. In general, sales has an inherent competitive undertone, so (lighthearted) sales contests can be a good way to channel that energy and help your sales reps put their strongest foot forward.
Sales contests also help boost productivity, foster a strong team culture, and improve overall performance.
Studies show that 90% of employees are more productive at work when they’re involved in gamified programs like sales contests (among other benefits).
Savvy sales managers know that sales contests based on productivity metrics (e.g., number of dials, number of demos scheduled) and small-scale targets (e.g., number of email replies or highest engagement on email attachments) help reps focus on the work rather than the results.
This kind of sales contest also helps even the playing field for reps of all ability levels. Not everyone can consistently close enterprise-level accounts, but everyone can make 100 cold calls in a day — if they put the work in.
Fosters Strong Culture of Teamwork and Dependability
Sales contests are also really great at bringing teams together.
As long as you take care to prevent the culture from becoming too competitive, a sales contest program creates easy opportunities for sales reps to get to know one another on a personal and professional level.
Sales contests can also encourage teamwork, which will help your reps learn to trust one another and appreciate each other’s strengths.
Motivates and Improves Performance
It’s human nature to be at least a little bit competitive. There’s always a sense of accomplishment and reward — even if it’s subconscious — that comes when you know your performance was stronger than someone else’s. Knowing that your performance is being measured and compared against someone else’s is inherently motivating for many people.
The key to sales contests is to keep competitiveness in check. Sometimes, even the word “contest” itself adds more than enough competitive edge for a friendly workplace game. The rules and atmosphere should be the opposite of cut-throat, and regardless of prize value, the stakes should be low.
22 Sales Contest Ideas
Following are 22 of our favorite sales contest ideas. They vary in complexity, length of time to complete, and measurable metrics. Feel free to use each sales contest idea exactly as described here or adapt them to fit your needs.
1. Daily Prize
This one is pretty straightforward — there’s a small prize at the end of every day. How you determine the winner is up to you and can vary day by day. You can also feel free to award multiple winners per day.
If you wanted to make things really interesting, you could also add a White Elephant element, where winners can opt to swap their prizes with others won throughout the week.
A daily prize sales contest is great because it keeps everyone engaged and motivated on a daily basis.
Raffles are a great idea for a sales contest because the winners are picked by chance.
That being said, you can still incentivize hard work with this type of sales contest by awarding additional raffle tickets to sales reps who meet or exceed short-term sales goals (e.g., number of sales calls, number of closed deals, number of leads generated, etc.).
Raffles are more exciting when there’s a bit of time between each drawing, which will generate suspense and give everyone an opportunity to earn as many additional ticket entries as they can.
3. Salesperson of the Month
A “Salesperson of the Month” sales contest is also pretty straightforward: the person with the best performance according to the metrics you defined at the beginning of the contest wins the prize.
Challenge yourself to get creative with this one. Remember, the point isn’t really to reward the top performer. Instead, try to think outside the box when it comes to the type of results you want to recognize. One month, for example, you might recognize the sales rep with the most number of follow-ups. The next month, you might award the sales rep who closed a deal after the longest string of rejections.
It’s okay to reward great performance and sales talent, but it’s more important to design the contest in a way that ensures everyone has an opportunity to win.
4. Buddy Up
Buddy Up is all about teamwork. In this sales contest, pair top performers with inexperienced reps or those otherwise struggling to meet their sales quota. The pair with the best performance or most improvement wins.
You can sweeten the pot and give a nod to the contest’s name by allowing each member of the pair to also choose another “buddy” to win the same prize.
Make sure you rotate partnerships regularly for this type of contest.
5. Poker Game
A Poker Game sales contest is also a variation on a game of chance.
Every time a sales rep hits a small-scale or short-term target, they get to choose a card from a standard deck of playing cards. At the end of the month, the sales rep who can make the best poker hand out of the cards they drew wins a prize.
6. Leave Early Fridays
Here’s another straightforward sales contest: sales reps who meet their productivity targets ahead of schedule get to cut out a few hours early at the end of the week.
You can put a collaborative twist on this by making the goals team-based instead of individual.
7. Most Improved
One meaningful way to recognize sales reps at all levels of experience and achievement is by running a Most Improved sales contest. This places the focus on effort and perseverance rather than skill or luck.
8. Team Trophy
Team Trophy is similar to Buddy Up. In the Team Trophy sales contest, seasoned and inexperienced sales reps are paired together and tasked with selling products as a team. The team that sells the most products wins.
You could also make this contest more inclusive by rewarding all teams who exceed a certain number of sales.
9. Sales Bingo
Sales Bingo is a fun contest that’s easy to implement because most sales reps already know the rules.
And, despite its simplicity, it can actually be a very effective and impactful sales contest because it encourages sales reps to reach a variety of targets.
Sales Bingo can be a longer-term contest and is great for helping sales reps practice new skills that might be outside of their comfort zone.
10. Client Reviews
Some sales teams find a lot of value in running a sales contest around client reviews. This can be especially effective for teams that rely on strong and influential customer relationships.
Sales reps with the most positive reviews after a certain period of time win the contest.
11. The Most Nos
Here’s a non-traditional idea: award the sales rep who encounters the most “no” responses in a given time period.
Rejection and even negativity can be a very normal part of sales — why not reward the person who deals with it the most? After all, learning how to maintain momentum even in the face of challenges or negativity is an important sales skill.
12. Closing Race
For a more results-based contest, if you see a need for it, you could consider a “Closing Race” sales content.
In this game, each sales rep gets a randomized list of leads and has to close as many as they can in a certain period of time. The salesperson with the most closed-won deals wins the prize.
13. Sales Leaderboard
Some sales teams opt to display or publish a sales leaderboard.
Although this has heavy overtones of competition, a lot of sales managers find creative ways to leverage the visual nature of a sales leaderboard.
You could, for example, display the standings in terms of the percentage of quota reached for each rep. This way it’s less about volume or revenue and more about how well each rep performs relative to their own personal goals.
14. Double Commission
A Double Commission contest rewards the winning sales rep with exactly what it sounds like: twice their earned commission for the contest period.
You could also run this contest with a twist — instead of paying literally double their sales commission, you could also offer a cash bonus + a prize. In other words, anything along the lines of a two-for-one special.
It goes without saying that double prizes can be highly motivating for many salespeople.
15. Creative Pitch
A Creative Pitch contest asks sales reps to deliver their best sales pitch in front of their colleagues. Then, everyone on the team votes for their favorite.
You can customize this by asking your reps to vote on a variety of specific metrics, like how well the pitch hits the offer’s USP, which was most creative, or which was overall most effective. You can also feel free to offer prizes for the top three or even five best presentations.
16. Above and Beyond
The Above and Beyond sales contest is all about rewarding sales reps for their extra effort.
Some managers shy away from this option because, assuming their sales teams are well-managed, many of their sales reps would be great candidates to win this sales contest.
One way around this concern is to ask your employees to nominate one another to win. This can be a great way to build goodwill and appreciation among your team.
17. The Shakespeare
The Shakespeare contest is all about written and spoken word. Sales reps submit their most effective email, cold call, and/or sales presentation scripts, and everyone votes for their favorite.
You can make this contest even more powerful by compiling the winning scripts into a sales playbook.
18. Fantasy Football
In a Fantasy Football sales contest, everyone on your sales team is drafted into different subgroups.
The number of subgroups (in other words, your “football” teams) will depend on the size of your sales team, but you need enough to run round-robin tournament play. Make sure that teams are balanced, with talent distributed evenly.
Teams face off against one another week after week, with the winners being selected based on whatever metric is laid out by the sales contest rules at the outset of the game.
19. Sales Madness Bracket
For fast-paced contest fun, a sales version of a March Madness bracket is an engaging way to recognize and reward employees for a wide variety of sales metrics by focusing on a different metric for each round of play.
You can run this contest with individuals competing against each other, in pairs, or as sub-teams. Just make sure you distribute talent/skills equitably across groups and rounds of play.
20. Conversion Contest
A Conversion Contest recognizes sales reps who have the most conversions.
You can create more opportunities to win by awarding both overall conversions, as well as conversions between individual stages of the sales process.
21. Upsell or Cross-sell Contest
An Upsell or Cross-sell Contest is another straightforward option; each of these rewards sales reps who leverage their prospect and customer relationships to increase the value of each sale through upsells and/or cross-sells.
22. Retention Contest
A sales contest that focuses on retention rewards employees who have the highest rate of retained customers.
Make sure you clearly define in the contest rules what you’re looking for when it comes to “retention” — is it customers who stay on for more than a year? Do they have to sign a contract renewal? How closely does the sales rep need to remain in contact with long-term customers to be considered eligible for the contest?
It’s entirely up to you and your team how you recognize retention — just make sure you outline the terms explicitly.
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Sales Contest Prize Ideas
The most effective sales contest programs offer a wide range of prizes. Prize offerings should vary in value, frequency, and winners. Here are just a few of our favorite sales contest prize ideas:
- Cash or other monetary rewards
- Company merchandise
- Physical trophies, plaques, or certificates
- Written or verbal recognition
- Paid time off (PTO) or vacation time
- Gift cards
- Electronics or equipment
- Complimentary meals
- Boss for the Day privileges
- Opportunity to meet and/or dine with members of the C-suite
- Free professional development
- Floating trophy (a trophy that gets passed from winner to winner)
- Winner’s choice
Ultimately, the most effective sales contest prizes are the ones that mean the most to your sales reps. Use anonymous surveys to poll your team about what rewards will be most motivating for them.
How to Run a Sales Contest
Regardless of the types of sales contests you choose to implement with your team, the process for setting one up is more or less the same.
1. Create and Explain the Rules
The sales contest rules — and how well you communicate them — will ultimately determine how successful your program will be.
Rules need to be clear, fair, and explained in full upfront. Be sure to include:
- How many salespeople are allowed to enter the contest, including any specific factors for eligibility
- What metrics will be used to evaluate success
- What results qualify someone as a winner
- How many potential winners there may be
- The start date and end date of the contest
Whenever you can, try to incorporate rules of chance into your sales contests. This will
help sales contests feel more fair and balanced and encourage effort and hard work instead of just results.
2. Determine the Prizes
Once the contest rules are in place, it’s time to announce the prize.
Remember, it’s more than okay to offer a variety of prizes on various schedules. The key is to make the prizes enticing and relevant.
3. Get Feedback
The most effective sales contest programs are based on the preferences of your sales team.
Before you launch a contest for your team, ask them what they’d like to see. Do they have any favorite contest frameworks that could work in a sales setting? What games or prizes will be most motivating for them?
You can sweeten the pot for this exercise by offering a prize for the best idea.
Once you’ve tried several types of sales contest ideas, ask your team members for their feedback. Which contest and which prizes have been their favorite, and why? Which ones motivated them to work the hardest? And which helped them improve their sales skills the most dramatically? Each of these responses is important and will help you further optimize your sales contest program.
Sales Contest Best Practices
Here are some best practices to keep in mind as you implement sales contests with your team.
It’s Not About Being the Top Rep
The worst kind of sales contest (and probably the least overall motivating) is one that forces sales reps to compete for the single spot of a top-bottom-line performer. That’s because these kinds of contests offer your most experienced and talented reps an automatic leg up.
This can be highly de-motivating for average and inexperienced reps and will end up defeating the purpose of running a sales contest.
Instead, try to structure your sales contests around soft skills like work ethic, creativity, and teamwork, or front-end sales activity like cold calling, generating leads, and passing sales qualified leads (SQLs) to account executives. These are skills that will benefit any sales rep and can be applied to any sales scenario.
Ask Your Staff for Input
It bears repeating that it will be difficult to maintain a fun and engaging sales contest program without creating it based on direct feedback from your team.
Trust that they know themselves best when it comes to what motivates them, as well as the right balance between lightheartedness and competition.
Make It Fun and Easy
Sales contests that are overly competitive or overly complex are not fun. Keep it simple and straightforward — you should be able to explain most contests in just a few sentences.
And, while it’s a good idea to try out a variety of different types of contests, make sure you run no more than two or three simultaneously.
Act With Integrity
While it’s true that sales contests are meant to be fun, it’s incredibly important that sales managers act with and uphold integrity throughout the contest.
As a manager, this means providing frequent and transparent updates on contest standings (daily or weekly, depending on the contest) and delivering prizes in full and on time. It also means overseeing contest play and enforcing the rules among all participants.
Do you run sales contests with your team? Which sales contest idea has been most effective? Which prizes are most popular?
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