Are You Thinking Creatively With Sales Team Contests & Incentives?

ITA Group
ITA Group

An abstract idea using creative thinking

Sales is competitive, but posting monthly and quarterly rankings isn’t enough to motivate the team. Small competitions, when strategically communicated and designed have a large impact on the energy, attitude and overall culture of your team.

The best way to get new results is to try new things. No brainer. But it's easier said than done. Each team is as unique as their individuals. That’s why you need a variety of creative sales incentives that aren’t just appealing to your sales reps, but also have a direct impact on their success. Take a look below for eight ideas to get your team motivated and moving in the right direction.

1. Mighty Mini Prizes

Small scale prizes can still have a big impact on incentivizing your sales team. Just think for a moment about a time when someone surprised you with a coffee. It was a simple thing, but dollars to donuts it’s something that left a positive impression in your mind.

So why not take this idea a little further into the realm of personalization. Parking spots, local entertainment tickets and fine dining are great options that don’t break the bank to fulfill. You might also consider lunch with executives for those who are recharged by public recognition.

Even adding work from home days can have a huge impact on productivity. Employee attrition decreased by 50% among telecommuters, they took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days and took less time off.

2. Getting the Most 'Nos'

Another way to make your contests more inclusive is to focus on effort as well as results. This encourages both new and experienced sales reps to go the extra mile by leveling the playing field. It also helps novice salespeople keep their spirits up since either outcome with a client is a positive one. A “yes” might mean a fatter commission check, but a “no” still puts a check up on the board and shows they’re trying to close a deal.

Dan McGraw, founder and CEO of Effin Amazing, shared the following bit of his experience rewarding his sales employees every time they lost a deal in a BusinessNewsDailey.com post:

“Every time someone got a ‘no,’ we tracked it in our system, and the person with the most ‘no’s received a $100 gift card every week,” McGraw explained. ”This might sound crazy, but you get a lot of ‘no’s when doing sales. The more ‘no’s you get, the closer you are to getting a yes. The prize of getting a yes is way larger than $100, so you still wanted to get there. This nearly doubled our outbound calls and motivated the whole team.”

3. Immersive Experiences for Quarterly Quota Smashing

Providing memorable experiences for your sales team is another way to inspire their productivity and increase your company’s profitability. These not only come with a prize (the experience, duh) but also the memory that’s attached. Unlike cash or a gift card that is spent and forgotten, an experience leaves a lasting impression, a memory, for your sales reps. The top “wow” incentives amongst today’s employees are global experiences and wellness activities like yoga, hiking and extreme sports.

Show your sales team you honor a healthy work-life balance by rewarding them with a gym membership. Whether it’s the YMCA down the road or a subscription service to the trendy boutique fitness studio in town, you’re encouraging your sales team to remain active. Cooking classes, golf lessons or a spa day are a few other options that fall under the category of experiential incentives your employees will love.

Ultimately, your rewards should match your employees' interests. Personalize their prize and make their experience a remarkable one.

4. Try-day Challenge 

Got a new sales tactic you’ve been waiting to try? How about a new email template design that could set you apart? Don’t be afraid to try something new. Innovation is your key to success in this day and age. This is what Try-day is all about.

5. Focus for a Week on Learning vs. Prospecting

Training matters. Development matters too. So why aren’t you giving your sales reps the time to do it? Provide opportunities for your people to attend classes, seminars, etc. to learn more about their specific craft. The problem: not every city is a hub for such activity. So, look for ways to get your people to larger, high-profile conferences in neighboring states or across the country.

6. A Day in the Life (Sale & Marketing)

Too often, companies let marketing and sales operate as separate entities. Which is a shame considering proper alignment between sales and marketing leads to 32% higher revenue, 38% higher win rates and retaining 36% more customers, in addition to 24% faster growth rates and 27% faster revenue growth.

When sales and marketing work together, metrics soar, costs decrease and life cycles are more concise. A face-to-face meeting with members of both the sales and marketing teams is the best, most effective way to get everyone up to speed and on board, to say nothing of the invaluable ideas, concerns and suggestions each can provide you.

7. Wild Cold Call Competitions

A cold calling competition is about more than just boosting sales. As reps begin competing against one another they’ll start collaborating, so you’ll be fostering camaraderie along the way. It can have a long-lasting impact on your insides sales team and the way they approach cold calls from now on.

In addition to revenue goals, think about measuring objectives like customer satisfaction rates, number of cold calls and quality of data metrics. This strategy not only improves performance in many different ways, it ensures that the same people will not win every single month. Switching up the reward keeps the contests from getting stale.

8. Pair Up

Pairing experienced and novice team members toward a common goal helps introduce one-on-one coaching and mentorship. Individuals can share what works for them, what hasn’t and overall performance for the team goes up.

Other benefits include a quicker and more thorough adoption of company culture and work procedures, and quicker skill development and adoption because they can push the news sales reps to the edge of their comfort zone.

And it’s not just the newbie who reaps the benefits. Experienced sales reps benefit from a formalized program because they receive the opportunity to develop leadership skills and connect with more junior employees. The mentor role can even be part of your career ladders.

Continue Building Your Sales Manager Toolbox

There are never enough ideas in a sales manager’s toolbox. And repeating a sales contest or incentive can get stale—and that means demotivating sales reps. When it comes to sales incentives and motivation, think in terms of flexibility, money and experiences. Different people value different things, so engagement and rewards of all types can be effective.

Now that you have a few ideas to get your team going, do you have the resources they need to act? Our robust list of 77 sales training resources can help keep your team razor sharp throughout the year.