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220+ Sales Contest Ideas to Fire Up the Troops

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Sales Contest Ideas

220+ Sales Contest Ideas to Fire Up the Troops

In a difficult marketplace—one that frustrates sales and service people—what kinds of things do you do to prevent burnout and keep your staff motivated? Whether you’re looking for sales contest ideas or sales incentive ideas, we’ve got the answers!

Here are the responses from more than 220 owners, managers, and sales professionals on their contest ideas for work:

  1. Once-a-month blitzes with partners. Contests for the winners.
  2. Take staff to a baseball game.
  3. Celebrate each success, small and large—meeting a goal, landing that first opportunity with a new client or expanding business at a current client. Interject as much motivation and “positivity” into the workday. We also have a surprise appreciation day. Each staff member gets involved bringing in something little to show appreciation for a designated sales or service person.
  4. Seminars, teamwork.
  5. Be flexible with time-off requests. Assist with client issues. Heap praise and appreciation on my staff!
  6. (1) Hold contests with funky prizes. (2) Hire a massage therapist for the afternoon for the staff. (3) Have “fun” sessions at staff meetings to do non-business related stuff, just for fun!
  7. Share results, non-work related office activities, communicate.
  8. Joint Calls. Graph hours.
  9. Outside activities.
  10. PIZZA PARTY award for increase hours weekly.
  11. Get them more involved in public relations efforts.
  12. Contests creating warm leads for them to pursue. Training & development. Communicate a clear vision. Provide multiple ways to measure success.
  13. Free time.

    Food, Cash and Time off seem to be popular incentives!

  14. Share success stories in the business. Staff lunches and gift incentives such as extended weekend stays at resort.
  15. Parties,contests, prizes, meetings, gifts.
  16. I sell some accounts and turn them over to the sales person for commissions and service. It keeps them happy and the customer too!
  17. Look for new markets to place temps.
  18. Incentive contests. Constant praise and recognition. Work with them to find solutions.
  19. Bonuses and extra days off earned for certain goals. All company employees are able to give their input to help determine goals for entire company, including benefits, bonuses and extras. Company trips for anniversaries and sales bonuses.
  20. We communicate about the frustrations and remind ourselves of the bigger, long-term issues, and the importance of believing in our plan and ourselves and staying the course we’ve laid.
  21. Regular contests—anything to make this week feel different than the last week!
  22. Team activities: lunches, dinners, concerts (in better times), parties, conventions, training seminars & educational seminars, time off, bonuses.
  23. Maintain a positive attitude. Always laugh.
  24. Keep them focused on future opportunities. Let them know they are doing a good job for the market.
  25. Celebrate All Successes. We maintain a board for all positive things that happen—if we get a new contact name, an appointment, we meet an A candidate, etc. We’ve done Fun Fridays where each week someone is responsible for planning a 15-30 minute fun activity for Friday afternoon. We’ve played Pictionary, charades, had pumpkin decorating, etc. Each week the person tries to out do the event from the week before.
  26. Obviously incentives that appeal to the participants individually, not mass programs with one common incentive that appeals to only a select few. Also, we have created more internal programs to increase our value more support systems in place.
  27. Offer monthly incentives.
  28. Involve them in planning. Listen and ask questions all the time. Plan “fun,” away-from-work-type events. Find the good and praise them for the effort. Be a resource for venting or brainstorming issues. Respect autonomy, focus on results. Spend time with them one-on-one.
  29. We keep on improving the work environment through increased “soft” benefits like extra days off and better holiday schedules.
  30. Get the staff together to brainstorm alternative approaches. Often times people know other people who may be able to work around a roadblock. Often times new eyes see a new approach. Sales people feel supported and other staff feel involved.
  31. Giveaway promos, dinner, concert tickets. Staff meetings with “positive”emphasis.
  32. Weekly, monthly or quarterly contests based on anything from gross profit to hours to activity. Time off at non-peak hours. Regular meetings to motivate and review productivity.
  33. Company meetings in parks. Fun sales contests with prizes and themes.

    Nothing like a change of venue to provide a change of perspective!

  34. Buy lunch for employees once a month. I work a desk myself to keep employees motivated.
  35. Communicate well and communicate often. Talk to your people to get a sense of how they feel. People simply want to be heard.
  36. Share small successes with everyone.
  37. Lots of personal things—spontaneous breakfasts, flowers, etc. Instead of compensation in a tight economy I will give time off to celebrate a big win. Regular meetings to keep lines of communication open. Fun contests—short-term to keep motivation up and see results.
  38. Use incentives to get the staff going. For example, we use shopping trips or spa trips if we reach our goals.
  39. Internal contests based on productivity. Surprise breakfasts. Personal notes of kudos. Keep the atmosphere FUN with silly gestures like “high fives,” and sports huddle “GO TEAM!”
  40. Focus on customers’ needs and expectations—keep the attention off of our trials. Celebrate successes. Have fun.
  41. Let people leave early sometimes. Have company outings.
  42. Continuous rejection can burn everyone out. We try to celebrate even the smallest of victories.
  43. High pay.
  44. Re-evaluate everything you’re doing…cut out what doesn’t make sense. Make things fun.
  45. Send them to sales seminars.
  46. Contests, obtainable goal setting, time off with pay, company events.
  47. Discuss with staff quotas and expectation levels, and revise if necessary. Provide recognition for much smaller achievements.
  48. Have a sales contest. Offer an incentive for going over your goals.
  49. Report my successful and not so successful results to the team.
  50. Weekly meeting to discuss what they are doing and discuss other opportunities. Show interest in all their accomplishments and support in their disappointments.
  51. Provide additional training.
  52. Take a walk, laugh.
  53. Positive reinforcements!
  54. Took everyone to play best ball in golf. (Great team building exercise!)
  55. Over communicate—people can deal with stress if they know the big picture. We share results and info broadly across the organization. Recognize results. Give out certificates of appreciation.
  56. Close the office once a quarter and take staff out to lunch. Monthly brainstorm meetings to assist in redirection.
  57. Listening and sharing success and trials with each other.
  58. I buy breakfast tickets for the “chamber pancake breakfast.” They can go during working hours and it supports our chamber. I hire a massage therapist to come to the office and give head and neck massages. I buy tickets for employees and families to the “chamber crab feast” every year. (They love this!) We have our “Christmas Party” in February or July, or November. (Everyone has fun things to do at the actual holiday time.) I have “theme” luncheons catered several times during the year; for example, we had an “aloha lunch.”I give them an afternoon off to play.
  59. If someone feels like they “hit a wall,” I have them stop and resume calls the next day. (I don’t mean after 10 phone calls, I mean after an hour or two.) Take a break; a walk and then resume calling. It’s rough and frustrating, hopefully it ends soon.
  60. Praise them.
  61. Nothing.

    Not exactly the response we were hoping to hear!

  62. Additional training.
  63. Teamwork incentives create the stale cheese report. Helps Associates see where markets have shifted from and where the new money / opportunities are.
  64. Encouragement money.
  65. Remind them honesty in sales is long-term thinking. Know what your customer needs, not what you have to sell. Always give a little more than you promise.
  66. “Keep it friendly.” We realize everyone is working as hard as possible to fill whatever orders we get in. When things are extra slow, we allow people more time for personal things like school functions or youth activities.
  67. We set weekly short-term goals, and offer incentives each week for reaching them. For example, an incentive may be 2 hours off. It keeps employees focused and energized each week.
  68. Whips.

    Of course, there are worse things than “nothing!”

  69. Weekly coaching sessions; role plays; I make calls with them.
  70. Contests….track results… create events…. share info so everyone is involved.
  71. Bonus.
  72. We are still looking for a good answer to this one. In the meantime, we try to have company-paid group lunches in the office at least once a month. This has been a good way to get people talking and sharing.
  73. Offer unusual prizes for accomplishing specific goals.
  74. Comp days for long hours, weekends worked.
  75. As a manager, I stay positive and encouraging, always looking to help the reps’ success.
  76. In my past life I owned a franchise of a national staffing company. With the national company there was an endless supply of sales material, and incentives programs. As an independent with a limited budget, I feel that continuing education, hands-on management and more incentives based on growth help us to keep people motivated.
  77. Try to keep duties fresh.
  78. Look for as many ways as possible to stay in contact with our customers outside of the normal sales cycle. Golf tournaments, networking events, brown bag lunches, etc.
  79. Keep giving them a forum where they can share those frustrations and brainstorm ideas.
  80. Set smaller goals that are quickly reached, and reward them as you move that goal up.
  81. We do very little. We are in desperate need of some great ideas!
  82. Daily meetings, sales continuing education, library access.
  83. We are flexible and generous regarding time off for our employees. We have a massage therapist in our building as well as a nail technician and often give massages, pedicures and manicures to our employees. We give them lots of praise and public recognition at community events. From time to time we give everyone flowers for their desks or books of car washes for no reason in particular. We think that surprises are fun to get.
  84. We celebrate small victories sometimes on a monthly—if not weekly—basis. Our celebration might include ice cream sundaes from Baskin-Robbins or appetizers from a Mexican restaurant. If a REALLY good thing occurred, I might order in food and let everyone go home a little early. These little “parties” help keep morale up and give us something to look forward to.
  85. Buy lunch for the office. Let reps leave early on a rotating basis. Let reps have a 1/2 day off on Fridays for excellent performance.
  86. As a sales rep, I have paid little bonuses to operations staff for taking care of those special accounts we have acquired during this time.
  87. Get more personal with current clients. Better and more effective follow-up with current clients. Get referrals from current clients.
  88. Each morning we huddle (15 minutes max) to discuss what happened the day before, roadblocks, anticipated issues and customer needs, etc.
  89. Keep giving them information about their results so that they have knowledge, which is power. Share articles and information concerning the industry as a whole so that they know they are not alone.
  90. Rewards, challenges, goal setting, etc.
  91. We work with keeping attitudes positive, new training, research and exploration of new markets.
  92. We have a good team spirit and realize that despite our best efforts there are slow days. We have company lunch and discuss things. We form teams and play games together in the office to build morale, and we take off early in the summer if it’s a slow Friday or Monday.
  93. Do “brainstorming” sessions.
  94. More staff meetings to review and encourage. Relax some of our margin requirements to accept orders we might not otherwise take to give work to the stall.
  95. Celebrate small wins as well as big ones. Develop incentives for progressive sales. For example, x amount of achieving weekly face-to-face appointments results in employee coming in late one day the following week.
  96. Brainstorming, contests.
  97. Joint calls, contests, additional training.
  98. Emphasize work/life balance.

    As in, “work is now your life…” (just kidding)

  99. Keep them informed of company issues and problems.
  100. Contests among the sales associates.
  101. We have a list of 40 little things that each rep. may choose from each month. The goal is to achieve 20 points. Each choice counts as 3 points. They have an expense account for the month so they can choose to purchase a gift, flowers for a special occasion, etc. One of our clients was moving into a new house. We had courted this account for over a year with light rewards. Our rep personally delivered pizzas to the new home at the exact time the truck was pulling away. Well, timing is the key. The rewards to the reps are a choice between an appliance (small one) and evening out to concert, dinner, etc. It has been most rewarding for them to decide what they wish to do, while staying on budget. They turn in their own results, and scores are shared. Happily we all benefit from the good will, and from management’s standpoint, these little things become a habit. This contest has only run for one month. After a while it will be changed to yet another challenge. In the meanwhile, good habits are forming together with authority to choose and create, and my company is getting an “A-HA” experience all ’round.

    A very unique idea!

  102. We celebrate every win!
  103. Have parties and group lunches. Much more positive reinforcement when even tiny positives are created by employees.
  104. Constant open communication, assistance in the selling process, contests, promotions, company sponsored client incentive programs.
  105. Lunch outings. Encouragement. Assistance.
  106. Pep talks, thank them for the extra effort it takes, tell them to hang in there. Small office treats.
  107. Recognition for achievements (approximations) toward the goal such as obtaining sales appointments even when they don’t get the sale.
  108. We have a meeting together every Monday morning to discuss frustrations and what to do about them, and success stories. I offer support and encouragement, and offer affirmations as a way to promote positive attitudes. I invest in feel-good books and tapes that are designed to promote a “just do it” frame of mind. Even the smallest success receives a commendation from me and is announced to the entire area. Small gifts are also frequently given out.
  109. Emphasize the importance of nurturing relationships with potential clients. Have sales reps try to solicit additional business from our existing customers rather than face constant rejection from cold calls.
  110. Currently, I have only myself to keep motivated, and all I have to do is look at the bottom line. If I had staff, I would share that bottom line with them so that they would seem a part of the team to make the business a success.
  111. Family Fun Day for the office with the highest increase in GP dollars. Day at the Spa for the Rep with the most appointments for the month. Weekly drawing for concert tickets and dinners.
  112. We provide recognition for efforts as well as results. The more “no’s” you are hearing, the more possibilities there are for a yes. Provide encouragement to try something new.

    Smart idea. When results are less than desired, make sure the fundamentals are still being done…and encourage creativity.

  113. Hot day of orders …ice cream. $50 for a great performer. Something from a flower shop for a great effort….
  114. Incentives, company brainstorm sessions with lunch provided, etc.
  115. “Brief” weekly sales meetings. Go with them on cold sales calls. Always pay attention to a person that seems to be having difficulty with a client. Set goals that are fairly easy to achieve. Cash bonus.
  116. We do a variety of contests, challenges, and fun activities during the year to keep everyone upbeat and motivated.
  117. Keeping them more involved in their own office or branch production. Setting realistic goals, more training.
  118. Understand their market, be in it with them. Do not set unreasonable goals.
  119. We have contests that reward the person who fills the most orders. We have bells on each Placement person’s desk and when they have good news to share, they ring the bell.
  120. Rotate markets.
  121. (1)Weekly interdepartmental brainstorming sessions. “Cross-pollination.” (2) Holiday promotions/gifts for clients. Changes regularly and provides creative outlet. (3) “Mentoring”—senior sales staff teaching inexperienced operations staff canvassing techniques, cold-calling techniques, and fee negotiation techniques. Gives the senior person a refresher and boosts their confidence.
  122. Motivational meetings.
  123. Regular sales meetings. Regular sales training. Rewards for achieving set goals.
  124. Weekly meetings.
  125. We come up with other ways to approach the prospects & clients, like seminars, surveys, etc. Builds the relationship without putting them on the defensive for the typical “sales”-speak.
  126. Variety, give them different projects and/or responsibilities other than spinning the dial all day to make appointments that are harder to come by.
  127. Run a fun or silly impromptu contest that places the focus on a sales or service activity that needs to be strengthened. For example, in nurse staffing we had several nurses that were not on our schedule for the weekend. So, we printed a list on Friday morning and told the team that the staffer with the most people from that list that gets booked or put on the schedule for that weekend, would win a $30 gift certificate to a local restaurant. The prize and the friendly competition it fostered gave everyone a quick pick-me-up on that Friday, and we, as a company, gained by having more billable hours that weekend.
  128. State of the union updates. Monthly sales contests. Time off rewards various sales recognition programs.
  129. Challenge them continually to be better (may cost you a few) and share the wealth with them.
  130. Dartboard with the easiest clients in the center. We do not assign individuals to a client, rather we must inform each other of our progress.

    So the advantage goes to the person who’s best at “bar sports?” In all seriousness, kudos for creativity on this one!

  131. Group sporting activities, extended PTO, and more time spent on training and use of technology.
  132. Rotate marketing/sales tactics. Empower staff to suggest and make changes to plan.
  133. Contests.
  134. Buy them lunch. Be more flexible and willing to spend a bit more on promotional items.
  135. Offer time off. Offer continuing education courses. Ask for participation in meetings regarding sales and operations.
  136. None that have worked.

    Keep trying….that may be the biggest secret to success!

  137. Provide a professional workplace decision making freedom opportunity to affect change. Small birthday and anniversary celebrations. Occasional group in-office lunch.
  138. Incentive contests based on activity.
  139. A strong team working together, from the company owner down to the low man on the ladder. If everyone is working hard together successes are much more enjoyable and failures much more tolerable because you know it was a group effort.
  140. Keep everyone focused on long-term goals.
  141. Remove burnout-it is like a cancer that is contagious. We focus on base hit mentality and customer relationship building.
  142. (1)Small rewards (lunches) for small successes. (2) Celebrate birthdays (cake, present and lunch) for the entire staff. (3) I have mentioned over and over that this year is one to just get through and then it’s onward and upward after that. This is my third recession in this business and that has been my experience.
  143. Always keep a positive attitude. If they are complaining, turn it around into a positive. Ask for their input and question what they are hearing on the street. Making them part of the process gets them outside the box and they usually will answer their own question.
  144. Office “lunch ‘n’ learns.” Sales contests (for days off). Continued training.
  145. Take a ‘uniqueness’ and emphasize it in sales materials or a sales initiative.
  146. Have all the sales personnel do a sales blitz in each territory. Fun giveaways to clients in order to lighten the sales process. Go back to canceled orders and revisit these.
  147. My company provides no such avenues.
  148. Co-selling with other sales reps, managers or staffing coordinators.
  149. Small incentives along the way. Pedicures, seated massage in the office, lunch for two, gift certificates. Brainstorming. Group sessions with whole staff to look at the sales problems from a different perspective. Training and seminars.
  150. We go drinking.
  151. Don’t expect results.

    This person might be a tad too easy going…

  152. Offer contests.
  153. Offering flexibility in terms of time worked. Recognition for all good deeds. Positive attitude in upper management.
  154. Each office shares taking Friday afternoon off. Lunch brought in on Wednesday’s. Have everyone take turns going out to visit current clients.
  155. Incentive based activities within comp package.
  156. Have fun.
  157. Our sales and service staff are motivated.
  158. Lunch meetings. Contests, games, dress-up/theme days.
  159. Goal related dinners for all staff members as they achieve small goals of increased business.
  160. We have team selling days where a sales rep from another market goes out with them so they can commiserate.
  161. Breakfast meetings and unexpected cash payments for jobs well done.
  162. Have sales contest. Accompany sales staff on sales calls. Provide motivational meetings and gifts. Recognize family members (i.e., birthdays and anniversaries).
  163. (1)Provide training opportunities to refresh and rejuvenate. (2) Provide different promotional items to deliver. (3) Develop diversified products to allow fresh sales opportunity with different contact people.
  164. Contests.
  165. Sales contests with cash prizes or gift certificates. After-hours team get-togethers.
  166. (1)Commission and Bonus Comp Plans with high income. (2) Focus sales training on answering objections. (3) Provide marketing support for brand build and lead generation. (4) Maintain disciplined calling program within each territory against selected segments. (5) Track lost orders for competitive response.
  167. Try to catch them doing things right.
  168. Keep the work environment fun…thrive on chaos! Be spontaneous and take an afternoon off, and take them to a movie we have talked about. Lunches are good.
  169. Take care of staff by giving them little surprises like tickets for them & spouses to a concert. Let them take off personal time without docking from payroll.
  170. Regular sales meetings
  171. All go out to eat dinner. Produce graphs to show progress. If we have a good week, I have the sales personnel’s cars washed at the office.
  172. Share positive stories. Take staff to lunch.
  173. Remind them that there is dawn after every night, and we need to position ourselves to best capitalize the opportunities when they come.
  174. Keep humor in the work equation.
  175. Games.
  176. Our company does not have anything in place right now.
  177. Talk about new marketing ideas. Take them out to lunch.
  178. Try different approaches to clients. Determine ways that they need us before they realize it.
  179. Celebrate successes, even small ones.
  180. Offer freedom and flexibility when they have done the daily basics of marketing and cold calling, etc.
  181. Increased commission payout for “new business” on temps. Up to 10% of GM and up to 30% of direct hire (for a recruiter working at temp desk).
  182. Occasionally let staff go home early or come in later. Share jokes. Send staff to out-of-office training sessions.
  183. Get consistent feedback to market changes and conditions, and try to react to the fast paced change of needs.
  184. Take a vacation! Actually, I’m interested in seeing other’s responses to this. We’re not sure what to do!
  185. Bonus days off for goals met. Team recognition. Owners get involved in sales effort.
  186. Compliment, recognize, and go with them on sales calls.

    Looks like we have another common theme here—when times get tough, senior management hits the streets—not a bad idea!

  187. Stay positive. This is the perfect time to implement (if not already in place)an incentive program. This will help keep your team working hard and getting recognition in the process. Make it fun by including volunteer activities, make sure your staff is visiting customers regularly.
  188. Mandatory fun night once a month. We take our team out for a team activity—sporting event, dinner and movie at the office, golf outing, whirlyball, hayride. Something to break up the long weeks of work. Sales/Recruiting contest that all can participate in and win.
  189. Contest with nominal prizes (i.e., dinner, shows). A newsletter that shares successes.
  190. Promotional ideas, bonuses, double or triple commissions.
  191. (1)Set goals with immediate rewards. (2) Invest in training type seminars.(3) Create new incentives and friendly competition.
  192. (1)Focus on successes. (2) Admit the market is slow but we still have to pay the bills. (3) Have fun.
  193. Have a contest for who can get the most “No’s” in a single week. (Remember, for every no, you’re just that much closer to a yes!). Pep talks on a weekly basis—we’re tough, we’re stronger than the competition, we’re going to be there when it breaks!
  194. Events to bring employees together (picnics and/or pot lucks); contests; continual training; mentor programs.
  195. Comp time when things are slow. Recognition programs ensuring that our managers promote a fun environment. Discretionary bonuses over and above their current incentive package (periodically, during busy season).
  196. Contest between departments. Prizes for reaching various goals.
  197. Team building, show appreciation via words and small gifts, contests for various tasks that need to get done.
  198. Lower salaries and raise commission structure to make them more participatory in the process. With the lower salaries we also throw in an extra paid day off a month to help rid people of their burnout blues.
  199. Stay calm.
  200. (1)Present challenges in getting accounts. Focus on larger accounts that have a number of different decision makers. (2) Have them “spend a day in the life” (reverse roles) (3) Telemarketing contests, marketing blitz (4) Monthly Sales meetings—meeting on a frustrating topic (train, coach and motivate on this monthly topic).
  201. Contests for weekend trips. Update them weekly on performance, and increase focus on the activity…know the numbers.
  202. Hire experienced part time sales reps to avoid burnout. Pay above average commission incentives.
  203. Contests. More face-to-face sales calls with current clients.
  204. We brought back sales contests.
  205. Commission team building team meetings. Company newsletter.
  206. A positive outlook and bonuses.
  207. Take a lot of vacations. Drink. Always share a grin, laugh, or smile. Keep the mood light in the office. A few contests, which are planned to make it easy to win.

    I want to meet these people…

  208. Free beer.
  209. Be consistent, don’t panic—they watch you. Avoid massive and mass layoffs.
  210. Have staff set their own goals and objectives.
  211. Celebrate “mini-successes” —while closing new business or landing big accounts may be more difficult in this market environment, there are other means of recognizing achievements—identify achievable goals each week/month and celebrate in some fashion (big or small depending on the goal).
  212. I work alone and don’t really have a program.
  213. Small monetary rewards for good leads or anything that is proof that they are out there working hard to get new business.
  214. One person show—doing whatever it takes to survive. Burnout? Have gone way past that but gotta keep putting one foot in front of the other to move forward.
  215. Work on a position unrelated to your general specialty.
  216. Open to suggestions.
  217. (1)Make sure the upper management works with the team to help get through the rough times. (2) Make sure the branches are aware of what is happening in the industry around their area to, this helps them to know what to expect from the market. (3) Develop motivational contest between the different branches. If your company is big enough, team branches up to keep competition friendly. Still must work together to achieve the same goal.
  218. Provide days off for excellent performance, contests, buddy system.
  219. Offer contests, offer trips, and incentives focus on the future.
  220. Sales contests
  221. Leads Contests. Sales Contests.
  222. Winning. Make goals to win.
  223. None.
  224. Make it fun; keep an excited environment and celebrate ALL wins or near wins! Involve yourself as manager and others on the staff in the effort as well as the accomplishment. Use a failure or lost client as an exercise in learning rather than defeat.
  225. Joint sales calls. (Appointments go better and reps learn from each other). Blitz weeks (a ridiculous amount of sales activity followed with a company treat on Friday). Visit every existing client and learn more about their business.
  226. Half-day Fridays. Sales contest and promotions.
  227. Monthly recognition. Daily monitoring. Peer consulting. Strong manager/salesperson loop. Marketing info to sales quickly. 360 feedback with existing customers. Surveys for past customers. Accountability/goal setting/goal measurement.
  228. Non-cash incentives.

Thank you to all the creative and brilliant people who shared sales contest ideas and sales incentive ideas for this survey!

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