Motivate Your Sales Team by Creating Competition

To motivate your sales team through competition, sales leaders must discover their team’s motivations and needs, then put what was learned into practice. Knowing these will help boost your company’s bottom line.

The “one size fits all” approach

Many otherwise good sales managers do not succeed in motivating the members of their sales team. Why? Because sales managers often take a “one size fits all” approach to motivation. They assume that whatever motivates them (money, prestige, or praise) will motivate everyone.

Sales Contests

Some sales managers assume (because they personally like contests) that holding a sales competition each quarter and awarding the top seller with a bonus is the best way to motivate the whole team.

While this type of competition might motivate some salespeople, it will turn others off. Even those who might initially have enjoyed it might turn sour when they do not win. If a sales manager relies on the quarterly competition to motivate her sales team, she might end up very disappointed.

So how do you motivate your sales team members to work harder and achieve better results?

Create multiple winners

If you want to have a sales competition, that is ok! Just make sure you keep three things in mind:

  1. Avoid winner takes all competitions. When you only have one winner, everyone else goes home feeling defeated. This hurts sales performance in the long run.
  2. Consider having several “teams” of salespeople compete against one another. This builds camaraderie and encourages teamwork. After a month or a quarter, change up the membership of the teams so no one team consistently loses.
  3. Offer the winners their choice of 3-5 different prizes, so they are sure to get something that motivates them. This way, no one gets stuck with a prize that they will not use or appreciate.

Discover your team member’s source of motivation

You cannot motivate people until you know their motives. Do individuals need…

  • Public praise?
  • Private appreciation?
  • Cash rewards?
  • Something else?

The only way to find out is to ask your team members. Survey your salespeople and ask them what they would like from you.

Alternatives to sales competitions

When you survey your sales team, play close attention to their motivation likes and dislikes. If you have salespeople who dislike competitions, do not force them to participate. Instead, provide them with the type of motivation and appreciation that works for them.

For example, you might have a salesperson who hates the spotlight, but who would really appreciate genuine feedback from you. If that is the case, make sure you set aside a time each month to write an email detailing all of this person’s accomplishments and spelling out how grateful you are that he/she is on your team.

If you take the time to ask your sales team what motivates them and then put that in to practice, you will soon be blown away with their performance!

To learn more about how to motivate employees take a look at my article: Employee Recognition: How to Motivate Go-Getters by Showing Appreciation

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Paul Cherry

For over two decades, sales expert and author PAUL CHERRY has helped B2B sales professionals close more deals in all major industries. As a recognized thought leader in customer engagement strategies, Paul Cherry has been featured in more than 250 publications, including Investor’s Business Daily, Selling Power, Inc., Sales & Marketing Management, The Kiplinger Letter, and Salesforce.

Performance Based Results

Paul Cherry is the president of Performance Based Results. PBR delivers intense, customized sales team training programs and sales management coaching to companies throughout North America. Paul has worked with more than 1,200 organizations, including 175 of the Fortune 500, plus more than a thousand entrepreneurial, small to mid-sized, cutting-edge businesses looking to dominate their niche markets. Clients typically get 7 times their return-on-investment (ROI) or better.

Questions That Sell

Paul Cherry’s top-rated bestseller, Questions That Sell: The Powerful Process for Discovering What Your Customer Really Wants (AMACOM) has been listed on BookAuthority’s “100 Best Sales Books of All Time” and has been published in four languages. He is also the author of Questions That Get Results (Wiley) and The Ultimate Sales Pro (HarperCollins Leadership).