Carrying out Sales Contests

Sales contests are short-term incentive programs designed to motivate sales personnel to accomplish specific sales objectives. Although contests should not be considered part of the firm’s ongoing compensation plan, they offer sales people the opportunity to gain financial, as well as nonfinancial, rewards. Contest winners often receive prizes in cash or merchandise or travel. Winners also receive nonfinancial rewards in the form of recognition and a sense of accomplishment.

Successful contests require the following:

  • Clearly defined, specific objectives.
  • An exciting theme.
  • Reasonable probability of rewards for all salespeople.
  • Attractive rewards.
  • Promotion and follow-through.

Because contests supplement the firm’s compensation program and are designed to motivate extra effort toward some short-term goal, their objectives should be very specific and clearly defined.

The time in which the contest’s objectives are to be achieved should be relatively short. This ensures the salespeople will maintain their enthusiasm and effort throughout the contest. But the contest should be long enough to allow all members of the sales force to cover their territories at least once and to have a reasonable chance of generating the performance necessary to win. Therefore, the median duration of sales contests is three months.

A sales contest should have an exciting theme to help build enthusiasm among the participants and promote the event. The theme should also be designed to stress the contest’s objectives and appeal to all participants.

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