Sales contests. The magic ingredient in sales. The importance of sales contests cannot be gainsaid. But what do you mean by sales contests, you ask? Sales contests are, well, contests like any other, in which some win, others lose but overall the team and therefore institution thrives. Or should.

The importance of sales contests

Why sales contests? What is their main purpose? Contests in their very nature ignite competition; some even spur unity. The recent wins in Paris and Amsterdam Marathon contests by Elisha Rotich, (the late) Janet Tirop and Angela Tanui galvanized Kenya in unity for instance. Equally, contests in sales can spur team unity when the team wins. But more importantly, just like with the marathons, sales’ contests make the participants try harder. And therefore produce more.

Selling can also be emotionally and physically draining. After being swamped by wave after wave of rejection, walking from this prospect to the next, and rehearsing and making unending pitches, it feels inspiring to know that you will be rewarded for the effort, and not just merely with the cash you will make. After all, more money is not a panacea to sales person motivation. Contests just like recognition, don’t add an iota to your knowledge, nor sinew to your sales muscle but somehow motivate you to produce more.

What are the types of sales contest?

Though they have a common purpose, these contests come in different shape and sizes.  Some are monetary and others are not. And the latter is important to note as many times the mention of competition yields images of dollar signs to the institution and therefore the response, “We can’t afford it.” Sales contests examples abound. The insurance industry in Kenya is renowned for rewarding its top achievers in selling life assurance with trips to exotics places abroad all fully paid for.  

Sales contests importance

But not all need be so glamorous. A simple lunch with the CEO or being given an account by the effective Sales Manager is another example. Other contest ideas are to be admired for their creativity. Like the travel agent that rewards all the administrative staff who do bookings with international and local travel, or a game drive or dinner at some fancy hotel. All depending on amount of business shared. And all at no cost to the agent. The agent just asks for these from the respective hotels and airlines she sells for. It helps, of course, that this agent is top in his game. Whatever the type of contest though, it is important to have a category that recognizes ethical selling.

Do sales contests work?

The short answer, yes. The problem is that most are not thought through. Either because the creators are caught up in the excitement, or because it can be a lot of work to devise one. It can be work to come up with fun sales contests or even energizing ideas for sales contest names. Million Member March, as a contest sales name, for instance, may sound easy once shared but took days before it was arrived at by the Sacco that sought to inspire its sales people to drive up membership by the 50,000 remaining to hit a million. Another reason why they can fail is when a simulation is not done in advance. This leads to disappointment when the winner meets set goals but accounts shows how this will lead to loss for the company if paid out. 

Contests are a fun and effective way to drive sales. Try them.

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