Sales Contests for Field Sales Reps [Step by Step instructions for teams on the Road]

Sep 28, 2021

Motivation is critical for sales teams but challenging for them to maintain. Sales reps face rejection constantly, experience the frustration as deals they work hard on fall through, and navigate complex pipelines to convert prospects into customers.

Sales teams need the incentive to push through all of these challenges and land more sales.

Not only is incentive critical to push through the basics of a sales job, but an energized and motivated team will go over and beyond for the customer and company. They provide the enthusiasm that will draw in prospects and convert them into loyal customers.

While pay and commission can provide some of this critical incentive, it can also cause reps to focus only on the bottom line. They skip over crucial parts of their job that might not lead to immediate sales, such as inputting data or making a certain number of phone calls each month.

This is where sales contests, also called sales spiffs and gamification, can help. Gamification, or turning sales tasks into a game, can provide a positive payoff to meet important milestones along the way. Sales contests can create a fun work environment and harness the concept of friendly competition to push each person to perform at their best.

While inside sales have utilized contests for years to harness the motivation of gamification, outside sales can prove to be a bit more of a challenge. With the newest technology, though, sales contests can be a success for your field sales team.

Because outside sales work so much differently than inside sales, much of the advice geared towards sales gamification doesn’t translate well. That is why we put together this comprehensive guide and step-by-step instructions to help create sales spiff and contest ideas that translate well in the world of field sales.

In this article, we’re going to tackle exactly how sales leadership can create contests that motivate their teams to perform at their highest level. We’ll discuss why gamification works, the challenges it presents and provide a step-by-step process to make your sales contests a success with some sales contest ideas for your next competition.

Why You Need to Have Sales Competitions

Sales competitions can turn outside sales from an isolating and sometimes tedious job into something exciting.

The reason contests work so well is through their effects on our brains. It helps to release dopamine, a neurochemical that reinforces behavior and the anticipation of a reward. It is usually released when we eat something delicious, for example, or go shopping. It’s what makes us want to do those behaviors again.

Gamification harnesses this dopamine to motivate your team to participate happily in positive behaviors on the job. It is one of the best ways leaders can improve the engagement or the emotional investment sales reps have in the company and at their job.

Employee engagement is a critical aspect of a company’s success. Businesses with increased worker engagement are 21% more profitable and experience an 18% decrease in staff turnover.

However, sales is an industry particularly vulnerable to disengagement. It ranks alongside office and construction jobs as careers with the lowest engagement rates of any industry. In fact, only about 12% of sales reps are actively engaged in their job.

Gamification can provide a valuable incentive for your sales reps that can help lead to improved engagement and excitement. In a survey of 900 employees, 80% stated that they enjoyed using gamification software at work, and another 89% said it would make them more productive. That is why many enterprises are turning to gamification to improve their company culture. For example, Microsoft started using gamification across their entire organization and saw their employee engagement improve 3.5 times.

This improvement in mood translates into actual sales for companies: organizations that utilize gamification increase their conversion rates up to sevenfold!

Many sales reps feel disconnected from many aspects of their jobs. Sales contests can help them feel inspired to focus on parts of their jobs that would otherwise feel monotonous, leading to more investment in both their job and company.

The Challenges of Competition in Outside Sales

While sales contests and gamification can create a motivated and productive sales team, it has to be implemented correctly to help your team hit more of their short-term goals.

Historically, sales contests were mainly limited to inside sales. It is easy for employers to hang TVs in the office that show sales rep progress in real-time like Zillow does for their sales team. Field sales does not have this advantage. Without the visuals of inside sales, field reps do not get the same motivating factors that help push their performance.

Sales leaders also have a more difficult time tracking and quantifying salesperson behavior in the past. Field reps are often out on their own and less likely to check in or log activity. The freedom of outside sales draws many salespeople to their profession but makes it more difficult for leadership to have sales challenges.

Field sales can also sometimes lack the camaraderie that inside sales naturally fosters. Without regularly spending time with one another, reps can more often feel like a “lone wolf” rather than a team player. They are usually unaware of what other reps are doing, undercutting the friendly competition aspect that can help push sales reps to work harder.

However, modern technology helps overcome many of these traditional barriers that outside sales reps face. With new software, leaders can better track rep behavior and help improve team spirit and friendly competition. For example, Map My Customer’s Weekly Scorecard can provide a leaderboard that ranks sales reps by key metrics such as revenue won, deals added, or activities completed. This ability to see their teammates’ performance creates an easy, automated way to motivate reps and provide the level of friendly competition.

Source: Map My Customers

Step-by-Step Guide to Set Up Field Sales Contests for Success

Creating a successful sales contest that will actually motivate your sales team takes intention and forethought. Here are the steps you need to take to set up a contest that will inspire your sales team, plus some sales contest examples:

#1: Choose Your Incentive

The right incentive is critical to gaining buy-in. Otherwise, your reps will be just as unmotivated, and the contest will not have any weight or enact any change.

The obvious incentive that some companies choose is cash prizes. It can be very effective in motivating sales reps, but it is not the only option. One key to long-term motivation is variation. Offering the same cash prize at the end of every week or month could potentially lose the appeal that motivates reps, leading management to create bigger monetary awards.

Instead, leadership could choose to create various prizes. Keep your reps in mind when selecting rewards that would motivate them. Tickets to sporting events, for example, might not appeal to everyone. Gift cards to popular stores or restaurants could have a broader appeal.

#2: Set Up a Time Period

The time period that you choose should seek to hit the sweet spot. If it’s too long, sales reps could lose their motivation and forget about the prize. However, if it’s too short, then it might not be long enough to give your reps time to improve their scores.

For most sales teams, thirty days is usually an appropriate amount of time. Offering smaller weekly competitions might help keep sales reps on track and avoid procrastinating on larger goals.

For example, you might find that your reps are desperately putting in all their cold calls at the end of the quarter in a vain attempt to close some sales quickly. Having monthly or weekly competition for the most calls placed can help them stay on track and avoid a crunch at the very end of the quarter.

#3: Create Parameters for Success

Reps need to clearly understand who is the winner in the end. There are usually two options that organizations choose when they decide who the winner will be:

  • Reward top performers
  • Reward all reps that reach a certain quota

While the first option may provide reps with the inspiration to go over and beyond any set quotas for better individual performance, the second option can help foster a team spirit and avoid any cutthroat competition that might hurt the organization as a whole.

However, which one works best for you and your team depends on a number of factors, such as the size of your team, the length of the competition, and the size of the prize. If you are giving $15 gift cards at the end of the week to the person who places the most phone calls, for example, rewarding the top performer makes sense.

#4: Decide Which Activities to Count

While games can help increase morale and provide friendly competition, keep the overall objective of work: to make money. Ensure that the activities you choose to reward will help to achieve this total goal for your reps and the company.

Tie the games and rewards to business objectives. Activities that count, then, should align with specific objectives, goals, and values of your company. Contests should be well planned and based on KPIs that matter to your company. These activities should also be easy for your reps to track to avoid any ambiguity.

You might want to analyze your sales pipeline to find inspiration for the activities you choose. For example, you might find that your sales team does not qualify their leads, which means they waste time pitching to clients who aren’t a good fit. You might, then, want to create a competition that rewards sales reps for qualifying leads.

#5: Use Reports to Measure Activity

Using reports to measure rep progress has two advantages: they provide visuals that everyone can track and encourage sales reps to log their activities.

For some reps, cash or prizes are not enough motivation. They want the recognition that goes with competition. The visual nature of sales activity reports can be a key incentive.

Often, managers have a difficult time getting their sales reps to log activity. When reports are used, though, sales reps have additional motivation to log any activity. Make it clear to your team that if they do not log their activities, so they don’t show up in the report, it didn’t happen.

#6: Automate Your Tracking

The last thing that management needs is another thing to put on their to-do list. Competitions should be fun and encourage enthusiasm, not a burden. With templates and software to automatically track sales activity and performance, sales competitions can be set and left for leadership to check at the end.

Automated tracking can also ensure that nothing is left out. This can further motivate your team to do the right activities and input their data to see the progress made in real-time.

Motivate Your Sales Team with Competition

When done correctly, sales contests can provide valuable motivation and improve engagement in your team. Leadership can also encourage behavior that might not affect their paycheck in the short term but lead to a stronger business and more loyal customers.

The right sales spiff ideas encourage behavior and activities that align with the overall company goals. They should be on a timeline that allows reps to improve and provide the right incentive that will attract the attention of most of your team. Plus, with automation, management does not have to put all of their time into maintaining these competitions, and it will encourage reps to input the information into their CRM.

Give it a try and see how it can help improve your team motivation and morale!