Home » Top 10 Mistakes When Planning a Sales Contest

Sales contests are a great way to boost production on all levels of your business.  A well planned and executed contest can mean the difference between just “getting by” or “knocking the ball out of the park”.  Let’s take a look at the TOP 10 MISTAKES made when planning a contest.

 #1 – THE CONTEST IS COMPLICATED 

When planning a contest, make it easy to understand.  If your team doesn’t understand how to qualify for the contest or what they need to do to win the prize, they won’t even try to win it.

 #2 – THE COMPETITION IS TOO HARD TO WIN

The contests you promote have to be something almost everyone on your team thinks they have a shot at winning.  If it something only your heavy hitters can achieve, you have just knocked the rest of the team out of the race.  Make it a challenge but not so much of one that hardly anyone thinks they have a shot.

#3 – THE CONTEST PERIOD IS TOO LONG

You will find that you have greater success when promoting a contest when the contest period is less than 90 days.  In my experience, I have had the greatest results having a big monthly contest, a medium weekly contest and a small daily contest.  It sounds like a lot to keep up with but this generates the most sales and the most income for you!

#4 – THE PRIZE ISN’T DESIRABLE

Make sure that they prize they can win is something that they actually want or need.  I will never forget when I was new in the sales business, MP3 players were the bee’s knees.  More specifically, iPods were what everyone wanted.  My boss (an older gentleman) thought he had come up with a great contest when he put up a contest to win MP3 players.  They were cheap knock-offs of real iPods and NO ONE wanted them.

I find that doing searches on Amazon.com help me find products that people actually want.  If you just go to Amazon and go to the different departments main page, it will automatically display what the big sellers have been over the last few weeks.  More than likely, this will be something your sales team will be interested in as well.

 #5 – THE CONTEST ISN’T PROMOTED EVERY DAY

Another big mistake that’s easy to make is to kick off the contest, pass out a flyer and then not really mention it again.  Make sure that you have a list of how close each one of them is and promote it every day.  Each time they earn extra entries, remind them of it.  For example you can say, “Sue, great job closing that sale yesterday!  That gives you 3 more entries in the contest this week!”

 #6 – THE CONTEST IS BORING

 Make sure your guys get to have fun with your contests.  The sales business can be a tough one and your office should be a safe-haven where they can let their hair down a bit and have a little fun.  One of my favorite contests that I participated in as a salesperson was when my boss had a picture of a rival office manager printed up in poster form.  He stapled it to a corkboard and drew a bulls-eye on his face.  When we made a sale, we could throw a dart.  If we hit his face we got $50.00.  If we hit him in the eye, we got $100.00.  I know it sounds juvenile but boy did we have fun throwing those darts!  Of course, the guy we were aiming at heard about it and had just as much fun doing the same thing with my boss’ picture.  It was all about fun!

 #7 – NO ONE KNOWS WHERE THEY STAND

Whether it’s a simple list typed up showing how many entries or points each person has or an elaborate chart showing the progress of each individual sales person, it is VITAL to have standing posted.  Not only can they see where they stand as an individual, they get to see where the competition stands as well.

#8 – THEY PAYOUT IS TOO FAR AWAY

Imagine you are a sales person in your office.  The current contest is a trip to New York City and you want to win it!  Then you find out that if you win, you don’t get to go until 6 months later.  How excited are you to win it now?  Not nearly as excited if you are anything like me.  MAKE SURE THE PAYOUT IS WITHIN 30 DAYS at the most!  Pay off on your contest as soon as time allows.  In most businesses, it is feasible to pay out during the same pay period that your sales person gets paid for making the sale.  If it is a monthly sales contest then no more than 2 weeks after the contest period is over.

#9 – YOU HAVE TOO MANY CONTESTS

I know this may sound backwards but having too many contests can backfire on you.  I find that three contests at a time works best for my guys but your experience may be different.  Typically, we run a daily, weekly and monthly contest simultaneously.  If I promote more than that, they get confused.  We also have a contest board for each.  Our contest boards are cork boards you can find at any office supply box store.  Each board has the contest flyer on it with standings.  Just update it as part of your daily routine and make sure to give your guys recognition and motivation.

#10 – THE BIGGEST MISTAKE YOU CAN MAKE!

 The worst thing you can do when planning a sales contest is not to have one.  A poorly executed contest is better than none at all.  We all have those moments when we want to throw in the towel and give up – it seems like nothing will motivate them sometimes.  Just put up something simple and easy and take a deep breath.  Tomorrow is another day.

Have FUN!

 

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