Sales Contests That Work

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Jan 30, 2024 by Sean Luce

Look at almost any media property in the U.S., and you'll find two common types of sales contest. One of them is an overall staff contest, wherein the entire sales team hits a certain monetary quota for a specific quarter or a month and collectively goes to a resort together or gets an increase in bonus pay over that period. In the second type of sales contest - the one we will analyze here - each individual stands alone in his or her participation in the sales contest.

Let's begin by breaking down the "why" and "how," and then you can build your own sales contests or e-mail me for some "real world" sales contests that work.


- Recognition: 25 percent of top performers leave good organizations every year because of lack of recognition. Those top performers are usually very competitive, so sales contesting drives the rewards for these reps on your staff.

Drive New Business: For some stations, the lifeblood of the radio station is new dollars from clients never before on the air. However, this shouldn't be the only reason to run a sales contest.You might be trying to get some new testimonials, long-term business, or sold spec spots.

- Staff Morale: Sometimes, a simple sales contest can boost staff morale that's in the tank.


- Run Them Regularly: I ran sales contests three or four times a year, or about once every 12 to 16 weeks. Most of the sales contests were simple, depending on the needs of my sales department. The biggest challenge you'll find is getting 100-percent participation from your entire staff. The contest must be creative and simple and should blow your reps off their feet. Also, everyone must be able to play on a level playing field, rookies and veterans alike.

- Attack Your Competitors: Reward new business dollars from your real competitors - newspaper, Yellow Pages, cable and direct mail - rather than targeting other stations in the market.

1) Primary Goal: Generate new business, renewals, the most referrals, etc.
2) Concept: This covers how the contest is played and includes all the rules and regulations.
3) Time period: Contest runs for four weeks.
4) Rewards and Prizes: You must be very specific here: What's the grand prize? Are there
any smaller prizes? Remember, agreements prevent disagreements. Be specific on the front end.


- Keep all rules simple. You want everyone to participate. If figuring it out takes a calculus background, you'll probably have a short contest.

- Reinforce daily: To keep the momentum going, you must have some kind of reminder that is constantly in front of your staff each day of the contest.

- Promote the prize: If the grand prize is a trip to Hawaii, put pictures of Hawaii on your sales department walls. If part of the prize might be season tickets to the upcoming NFL season, bring in some football helmets, and conduct a sales meeting where you dress in football gear. Your enthusiasm will be infectious, which is much better than having your staff look at you and realize you don't care - a surefire way for the contest to fall flat on the floor. Here's another example: During phone blitz sales contests, I dressed up like General Patton in full gear including military boots. Our reps knew I was serious, and they saw the chutzpah in it, which immediately put them in the right frame of mind for that day.

- Solicit Prize Information: Ask all sales reps: If they were to run a sales contest, what they would like the grand prize to be (within reason). This will give you some idea of what hits each rep's hot button. Solicit your people - they'll tell you what turns them on.

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