For sports fans, this is a cherished time of year. The playoffs are part of the rites of spring: an annual tradition that resonates with a substantial percentage of your sales personnel.

Over the next two months, 16 teams in the NBA and NHL will be competing nightly in action-packed, epic competitions. Seasons and title shots are on the line. Heroes will emerge. Legacies will be defined. Greatness will prevail. And confetti will fall.

It's time to capitalize on this glorious season and engineer a new source of inspiration for your sales team.

5 Ways to Motivate Sales Teams with Sports

From now until June, your office is going to be talking about the NBA and NHL playoffs. And if your office is located in a city that's home to one of the 32 teams competing, your water cooler is about to get significantly more popular. 

And with a little creativity, effort, and time/financial commitment, you can make major sports events a key driver of your sales team culture and productivity. Here are 5 ideas that you can implement to make that happen.

#1. Run a Playoff-Themed Sales Competition

Selloffs, if you will. Exmaple: 16 teams (or individuals) competing for the honor of 2015 (Your Sales Organization) Champion. The setup:

  1. 16 teams.
  2. 4 rounds.
  3. Each series goes Best-of-5.
  4. Each "game" is won by the team with the most calls/revenue/meetings/etc. at the end of a workday.
  5. Each round lasts 1 week, the entire playoffs is 4 weeks.
  6. Round 1 losers compete in a consolation bracket.
  7. The winning team gets an epic reward.

For those who follow sports, few things dial up the feeling of intensity like a playoff bracket with personal stakes. Imagine one that looks like the 2015 NHL bracket, only with your name on it.

This option isn't right for every sales organization, of course, but in the proper environment, it can make for an epic month. Ambition users can vouch. 

#2. Reward Top Reps with Playoff Tickets

In our interview with BlueBoard CEO Taylor Smith, he noted the value in rewarding top performers with a memorable experience, rather than merely a token gift card or bonus cash.

If your local NBA or NHL team is in the playoffs, you have the perfect opportunity to grant your top performer such a gift. Recognize an elite performer or sales contest winner with tickets to a game. If it makes sense, get the CEO or other leadership involved by making it a night on the town with him or her.

Best-case scenario: You get them the opportunity to witness something like this:

If my company awarded my performance with tickets to that game, my Loyalty Meter just buried the needle. (I have zero allegiance to the Blazers, but total allegiance to clutchness). Playoff games are as memorable as sports events get. They're exactly what Taylor Smith and many others advocate deploying to recognize and reward your top performers.

#3. Use Epic Highlight Videos & GIFs

Daily fire-up emails to the troops are a lot sweeter when they come stockpiled with epic, timely playoff videos and gifs.

Example Scenario#1:  You're running a Bay Area-based sales team. Klay Thompson just erupted like a volcano in the previous night's game. You better lead off the next morning with a video like this:

Example scenario #2: You're running a Pittsburgh-based sales team. The Pens are competing later that night. Get their juices flowing by sending them a video reminder of "The Shift."

Historic playoff highlight videos radiate endorphins. I'm a Pittsburgh fan who's seen that clip a thousand times, and it still gives me chills. 

#4. Name a Daily Starting Line-Up

Seriously. Pick 5 or 6 members from your sales team (and/or your marketing and customer success teams) each day to be your company's starters.

Announce that they will be your team's highlighted performers that day to the rest of the office. Keep tabs on their daily performance and acknowledge their most clutch wins of the day. At the day's conclusion, create a mini box-score and name the Starting Five's top performer.

To maximize impact, make this initiative as epic as possible. You want to recreate something like this: 

The desired effect: Add an extra degree of intensity, a brighter spotlight, and increased opportunity for recognition to spice up the daily grind of your sales personnel.

You need your sales personnel to perform well under pressure -- this is a creative, fun way to artificially enhance the stakes of one's daily performance.

#5. Hold "Watch Parties" for Local Teams

Playoff watch parties, either at the office or a local watering hole, can be a great way to build camaraderie and inject more "life" into the work-life balance at your office.

Encourage employees who follow your local team to attend, throw on some proper apparel, and celebrate/commiserate over wins and losses with your colleagues. 

Best-Case Scenario: The below video.

Looks fun, right? Just don't celebrate too heavily so you can actually get some work done around your office the next day.

Inspire Your Sales Force through Sports

For the sports fans amongst your sales force, the NBA and NHL Playoffs are like a two-headed hydra -- exuding pheremones that inspire competitiveness, intensity, and attraction to pressure situations. Exposure to Playoffs pheremones triggers the pivotal character aspects of a gritty, determined sales professional. It's science.  Ignore the Playoffs if you so choose, but just know that the Gregg Popovich's and Mike Babcock's of sales management will be doing otherwise.

Ambition: Sales Motivation & Management Software

Ambition clarifies and publicizes real-time performance analytics for your entire sales organization. Using a drag-and-drop interface, non-technical sales leaders can build custom scorecards, contests, reports, and TVs.


Ambition is endorsed by Harvard Business Review, AA-ISP (the Global Inside Sales Organization), and USA Today as a proven solution for managing millennial sales teams. Hear from our customers below.

Watch Testimonials:

  1. FiveStars: Adam Wall. Sr. Manager of Sales Operations . 
  2. Filemaker: Brad Freitag. Vice-President of Worldwide Sales.
  3. Outreach: Mark Kosoglow. Vice-President of Sales.
  4. Cell Marque: Lauren Hopson. Director of Sales & Marketing.
  5. Access America Transport: Ted Alling. Chief Executive Officer.

Watch Product Walkthroughs:

  • ChowNow. Led by Vice-President of Sales, Drew Woodcock.
  • Outreach. Led by Sales Development Manager, Alex Lynn.
  • AMX Logistics. Led by Executive Vice-President ,Jared Moore.

Read Case Studies:

  1. Clayton HomesHBR finds triple-digit growth in 3 sales efficiency metrics. 
  2. Coyote Logistics: Monthly revenue per broker grew $525 in 6 months.
  3. Peek: Monthly sales activity volume grew 142% in 6 months.
  4. Vorsight: Monthly sales conversations grew 300% in 6 months.

Contact us to learn how Ambition can impact your sales organization today.

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