What do sales reps get out of sales competitions?

Posted by James Pember on 2/16/16 9:27 AM

Sales competitions are one of the most commonly used tools for boosting engagement, motivation and of course our results inside our sales organisations. Competitions are effective because they tap into what really motivates our staff - competitive spirit, recognition and progress, and they create short-term spikes in focus and enthusiasm.

However, as leaders, we too often think about our own goals, as opposed to tapping into the goals of our staff.

After all, if we can align our goals with their goals - we should have a much higher success rate, right?

Take a look at your own motivation initiatives (spiffs, contests, competitions) and ask yourself: am I trying to hit my goals, or their goals?

The Difference Between Your Goals and Their Goals

Sales reps want to do 3 things:

  1. Achieve their Personal Goals
  2. Be recognized and Rewarded for their Efforts
  3. Make Career Progress

Sales Leaders on the other hand just want 1 thing - to hit the plan or budget.

Now, when designing contests or any coaching initiatives - you need to have those 3 goals in mind. If you simply compete on “progress towards budget”, which most of us do, you aren’t tapping into the true motivators of your team, and thus will have lesser engagement and results.

2 competition ideas that truly engage sales reps

Individual Goals Competition

One of the hardest things about motivating salespeople is that inside your organisation, you have superstars, medium performers and lower performers.

Now, if you simply measure the “end results” i.e. bookings or revenue - there are only a small number of your reps who realistically have a chance of winning. That leads to demotivation amongst the lesser performers in your team, and to be honest - you won’t achieve any material sales growth.


Why? Because your top performers are often “maxing out”, i.e. they are very close to their potential. However, medium performers are normally underperforming based on their potential.

If you can get your “middle 60%” to increase their performance, you can really move the needle financially.

The irony though: as sales leaders, we so often forget about our middle 60%. We spend all our time spreading love and recognition to our top performers and the rest of our time coaching the laggards or lower performers.

If you want to create an “even playing field”, you have 2 options:

  1. Track different metrics, normally further up the sales funnel (i.e. calls, meetings, proposals)
  2. Have people compete on their own personalised targets

One of my favorite competitions to run is a Personalised Individual Goal competition, where we assign different goals to each rep, based on ability/experience/potential - and then have reps compete based on the procentual progress towards that goal.

In that way, a junior sales rep with a small quota can compete with your most experience and high performing sales rep.


This does wonders for your culture. Traditionally lower performers feel great about being at the top of the ranking scorecard for once, and your top performers don’t like the sudden turning of the tables, pushing them to work even harder.

Note: Sparta supports a simple, visual template for Individual Goal competitions, check out Sparta.

Team Spirit Competition

Whilst you want your sales team to have a killer instinct and winner culture, it’s also important that your team knows how to work together to achieve goals, and that all of your salespeople understand how important cooperation is. Remember, your team is only as strong as your weakest member!

So, here’s the problem: one-on-one competitions are great at driving killer instinct and a winner culture but don’t necessarily promote cooperation and teamwork. The best way to achieve both of these goals on the sales floor, is of course with team based competitions!

Team based competitions also help to solve one of the biggest issues that sales managers have today with competitions - momentum. Often, a couple of stars will hit the lead roughly mid-way through a competition. These sprinters become very hard to beat, and managers often see a drop in momentum from those who are middle-of-the-road and below, believing they no longer have a chance to win.

Now, this is a big problem, because whilst the top performers are critical to your success - increasing output from the “middle/core” performers is what actually moves the needle forward for a lot of sales teams. In a team-based competition - you can keep the momentum up for longer because even mid to low performers can still play a valuable role for their team - and can also have a feeling that they can “win”.


As a sales leader, your #1 priority is to inspire, motivate and drive your team to success. However, when designing your coaching or management initiatives - think about aligning them with the goals of your sales reps, you will have much more success that way.

Topics: sales productivity, tips for sales managers, sales management, sales competitions, motivating sales people, competition templates, how to motivate sales team, sales motivation, sales software, motivating salespeople, sales gamification, enterprise gamification, sales coaching, sales contests, goal setting, sales training, sales performance

What is Sparta?

Sparta is an end-to-end sales performance solution that helps you coach, train and drive your team into higher performance.

Create sales competitions, set collabarative team targets and inspire your team to crush their goals! 

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