Looking to run your most effective sales contest ever? Ambition has helped thousands of companies do just that. Here are the four keys to success plus ten great resources for sales leaders.

Sales leaders - if your last few sales competitions have failed to inspire your team like in years past, then it's time to get creative. There are 3 things in the sales profession that will always exist:

You can time travel 200 years into the future. Hell, SpaceX can put a sales team on Mars for all I care - you can bet your bottom dollar those reps will be running contests to see who can sell the most gamma rays (or whatever people will be buying on Mars) like they're in a Glengarry Glen Ross - inspired episode of The Jetsons. 

What has changed over the years? The tactics and strategies behind successful sales contests.

How to Run Your Most Effective Sales Competition

If you still think that manually updated whiteboards, call leaderboards, and blase incentives like Amazon gift cards are going to inspire your salespeople, then Shelly "The Machine" Levine has a great real estate opportunity for you in Arizona.  

Ambition has helped thousands of companies run automated and interactive sales competitions - complete with TV leaderboards, Team vs Team settings, and Fantasy Football-style scoring.

Of the thousands of contests our clients have run, here are four best practices that consistently create desired results, plus 10 great resources for anyone who is looking to run more effective sales contests.

#1. The Sales Contest Visualizes Live Metrics, Standings and Updates.

The first reason sales contests go stale? Data lag time.

The millennial generation of sales reps needs instant feedback and gratification. Thank Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and company for ruining the patience and attention spans of sales reps between the ages of 18 and 35.

The good news is that supplying your sales force with real-time sales KPIs and leaderboards is easier than ever, thanks to companies like Ambition, Outreach, People.ai, and more.

Pictured: How ChowNow Uses Ambition to Run SDR SPIFs.

Instead of merely updating metrics at the end of the day or relying on old data to motivate your team, it's important to consider the expectations of the members of your sales force who start getting 'likes' and comments the second they post an accomplishment or major life update to Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, et al.

By infusing near-real time data into your SPIF or sales contest, you'll make the positive feedback loops and contest updates associated with it that much more powerful. 

#2. The Sales Contest Aligns Metrics with Business Objectives.

The second reason sales contests go stale? Misaligned metrics.

Sales contests should revolve around KPIs - the behaviors and outcomes that drive revenue. The KPIs that matter will be unique in every sales organization. They should consist of a metric, benchmark, and weight that goes towards a scorecard for each and every rep.

sales contest scorecards

Pictured: How National Business Capital Uses Ambition to Create ScoreCards.

The best sales competitions leverage multiple KPIs that include both activity metrics (like calls, emails, account touches, LinkedIn messages, and SMS messages sent) and objective metrics (like meetings set, contracts sent, and deals won).

By leveraging your most critical KPIs in one contest (or across a series of contests), you'll ensure the contest reinforces your ultimate business objectives (ex. hitting team quota) and achieves maximum buy-in from your reps. 

#3. The Sales Contest Engages the Middle 70% of Your Team.

The third reason sales contests go stale? Failure to engage the middle 70%.

This particular problem is the most chronic issue with modern sales contests - and also the hardest to solve. Straightforward leaderboards and single-metric contests that involve standard-issue KPIs like revenue, calls made, and such often end up spotlighting the same few top performers over and over again.  

team sales contest

Pictured: Team Sales Contest Run by Fitzmark in March 2017.

One way to solve this problem, says the Harvard Business Review, is to run a team sales competition. According to their analysis of a three-month sales contest run by Clayton Homes, putting reps on teams helped spur sales team buy-in and peer-to-peer coaching.

Don't feel like running a team sales contest? An internal study conducted by a second Fortune 1000 Ambition client, West Corp, found similar team-wide KPI lift from publicizing real-time individual KPI numbers on office TVs.

#4. The Sales Contest Celebrates Growth in Addition to Wins

The fourth and final reason sales contests go stale? Failure to reward growth.

The reality is - most sales competitions stick to measuring standard KPIs. Very rarely do sales contests incentive improvement over past performance. Try running a sales contest based around delta improvement over last month's numbers. Or, how much people over-achieve versus their standard performance benchmarks for activities and objectives.

Pictured: Record-setting Daily Activity Score in Ambition.

By celebrating and publicizing improvement over past performance, you place reps on an even playing field and compound your ability to move the middle 70% of performers. Pro-tip: Publicizing sales contest winners on social media channels like Twitter and Facebook where appropriate will compound the power behind their positive feedback loops. 

The Top 10 Resources for Building Sales Contests

To supplement this post, we highly recommend checking out these 10 resources for more great insights and ideas on how to build your best sales competition.

1. The Sales Director Who Turned Work Into Fantasy Sports

2. 11 Creative Sales Contest Ideas (And Why They Work)

3. Finding the Right Sales Contest Software

4. 5 Sales Competition Ideas for SDR Teams

5. The Winner’s Guide to Effective Sales Contests

6. How Fantasy Football Can Drive Sales Team Productivity

7. The 7 Most Epic Sales Contests Run By Our Clients

8. How to Use Contests to Inspire Your Millennial Workforce

9. The Top 10 Best Practices for Sales Leaderboards

10. Proven Returns With Gamification: A Kenco Use Study

Ambition: The Leader in Sales Contest Software

Ambition is a sales management platform that syncs every department, data source, and performance metric in your organization on one system. Ambition's drag-and-drop interface lets non-technical sales leaders create custom scorecards, sales contests, reports, and TVs to drive results.


Ambition is endorsed by Harvard Business Review, AA-ISP (the Global Inside Sales Organization), and USA Today as a proven solution for increasing sales team recognition opportunities.

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

Popular Content