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Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Introducing competition into sales teams.

Categories: Incentives, Motivation


Either as individuals or in teams, introducing healthy competition into the sales environment can drive performance and boost sales. Here are a few guidelines to ensure your programs achieve the results you desire.

  1. Give everyone a chance to win.It’s critical that everyone who participates in the campaign has a chance to win something.A “Winner takes all” approach for a grand prize, can actually be very demotivating. Once a team or person realises that they have no chance of winning the big prize, they are likely to stop trying.

    Offering a base level of reward for sales activity keeps everyone engaged. Back this up with weekly or monthly winners, and other spot prizes, as teams race towards a final prize. Spread the budget across the incentive rather than putting into one big prize that only one participant can win.

  2. Reward sales growth, not volume.Simply rewarding sales volume can often backfire, ensuring that the sales force or the dealership with the biggest key accounts will always win, regardless of their efforts, or those of the other competitors.We find it is more effective to reward the increase in sales as a percentage, helping to level the playing field, and motivating those who are most able to effect change.
  3. Create a theme.It’s important to create a theme for your incentive that can be the basis for your supporting marketing and communications activity. Tying into events such as sports tournaments is always a good hook to hang a campaign on. The metaphor of a race, a score, or a league table is always a good way to think about how you will represent the performance of participants in your campaign.
  4. Focus on team spirit.Think about what can be done to ensure a team is all pulling together. Identify and set targets based on individuals and the team as a whole, ensuring teams will need to cooperate, share resources and support each other to get results.
  5. Keep rivalry friendly.Competition can develop into enmity if things aren’t kept in check. This is another reason why any ‘grand prize’ should only be a fraction extenze side effects of the total budget for the campaign.It’s important to provide team building and bonding both within teams and inter-teams. Add social events to help everyone wind down and share experiences.
  6. Involve support staff.Successful sales growth will create additional work for support staff, so find ways that they can share in the success.
  7. Communicate the success.There’s no point in running a sales team competition if no-one knows how it finished, who won, or what the bigger picture is.A successful sales campaign creates a feel-good factor that you should communicate within the organisation. Let everyone know how it finished up, and report the findings. These activities also make great PR, so consider creating a case study or press release for your trade publications and newswires.
  8. Follow up to maintain momentum.Don’t lose the head of steam that a great sales competition can generate. While you may not want to launch into another campaign straight away, keep the buzz going by announcing when the next one might start, and give participants a chance to start planning their strategy, forming alliances, and gathering resources.
  9. Measure the successIt’s important to define measurable criteria for the success of your sales competition. Was your overall budget for rewards and prizes enough to drive the performance gains you desired? What was the Return on Investment?
  10. RebootOnce you’ve completed your measurements, analyse what worked and what didn’t and start planning your next campaign.Make sure you mix up the formulas and change the parameters, to give new participants a chance to shine. Tweak the mechanics to subtly skew the rewards criteria, for instance.

IncentiveDirect’s online sales incentive system, iD-points, provides an ideal platform onto which to add a sales team incentive. Participants earn points for the performance criteria you define, and if there is a grand prize, this can be taken in points. IncentiveDirect work with our clients to create themed campaigns and bespoke creative material, including league tables and interactive games.

Crucially, iD-points provides all the tools you need to create and run multiple campaigns, communicate your activity, monitor it’s effectiveness, and report your findings.


The integrity of the pratice of paying bonuses has taken a hammering recently with the revelations that the bonus schemes in place at many financial institutions may have played a significant part in creating the credit crunch and the resulting crisis in the world economy. It’s giving incentives a bad name.

Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, weighed in with:

“Banks have come to realise in the recent crisis that they are paying the price for having designed compensation packages which provide incentives that are not, in the long run, in the interests of the banks themselves, and I would like to think that would change,” he told lawmakers.”

The BBC’s Robert Peston, harbinger of doom to the UK banking industry, believes that banks should also introduce the malus, a kind of collective responsibility for losses.

It’s an idea that some banks, such as UBS, are already looking at:

“Swiss bank UBS adopted a similar system in November last year. Some banks are looking at what’s being called bonus banking, where parts of executives’ annual bonuses are withheld over three years, and adjusted based on long-term results, to discourage them from ramping up their bonuses by taking short-term risks. Swiss bank UBS, which adopted such a system in November, calls it a bonus-malus system,”

We have spoken before about whether users can ‘game’ the incentive solutions you are implementing.

But in designing the mechanics of any incentive solution, one must also take care that recipients aren’t able to accumulate rewards through unsustainable practices, ones that are not in the long-term interests of the company.

Are the behaviours you are rewarding sustainable?