6 Steps to Setting Up The Perfect Remote Sales Contest


Sales contests are a great way to get your reps hustling and keep their heads in the game. But if you’re only leveraging them for short-term results, you’re majorly underestimating the heavy lifting they can do for your team, your sales org, and ultimately, your bottom line.

The perfect sales contest does two things:

  • Create an immediate impact where you need it most
  • Drive lasting performance and productivity improvement across your team

If you’re managing a remote team, now is not the time to sell your sales contests short. Here are six steps you should take to get the most out of each and every one.

Why Sales Contests?

Sales contests are a tried-and-true tool in most sales managers’ arsenals and for good reason. When you run a strategic, goal-oriented sales competition, you can strengthen sales skills, build sales culture, and drive revenue — all at the same time.

Now more than ever, with so many teams continuing to work remotely for the foreseeable future, the potential value and impact of a sales contest can’t be overstated.

Unfortunately, way too often, sales contests aren’t strategic or goal-oriented. Instead, they’re haphazardly thrown together to get energy up on a slow day, a slow week, or a slow quarter in a last-ditch effort.

Or they’re an attempt to score a quick morale boost for reps who are feeling isolated in their WFH setups.

These aren’t bad reasons to have a sales contest, but you can get so much more out of them if you use them as part of your long-term strategy.

Get specific

At Ambition, we give our sales contests a quick litmus test — will this contest contribute to all, if not most, of these ongoing initiatives?

  • Drive daily activities in line with monthly objectives
  • Engage the team
  • Instill accountability
  • Improve CRM adoption and data accuracy
  • Facilitate coaching
  • Create visibility for reps and managers

That’s just our starting point to ensure we’re considering both the immediate and long-term results.

If you want to run the perfect sales contest, you’ll need to set specific, measurable goals. The key here is to think big. Go beyond motivation and engagement — because those should be a given.

Maybe you’re trying to focus attention on a particular part of the sales process.

Maybe there are certain skills that you want your reps to start honing.

Or maybe remote work has led to a noticeable drop in teamwork, and you want to increase collaboration.

Bottom line — make sure every contest has a clear goal, and use that to define what success looks like on the front end. Be as detailed as possible, and communicate all of this to your team, so everyone is on the same page.

6 Steps for the Perfect Remote Sales Contest

The quick transition to remote work that teams had to make required a lot of reworking, restrategizing, and restructuring. Processes and workflows that ran seamlessly in the office had to be overhauled or completely abandoned in some cases. But sales contests are one thing that shouldn’t get left on your sales floor.

RELATED: Supporting Remote Teams: 5 Steps to Keep Your Team Thriving

So, let’s get into how you can put together the perfect remote sales contest.

Identify KPIs

Every sales competition should be data-driven, so it’s important to have a gamification tool that you can tie directly to your sales data.

But how do you know what those KPIs are?

Depending on your why it may be a no-brainer. For example, perhaps the goal of your competition is to get reps more comfortable (and effective) with outbounding on social platforms. So the competition may be centered on the number of InMails sent.

That being said, successful competitions incorporate multiple metrics. And ideally, they emphasize both hustle and effectiveness.

So instead of just looking at volume, find ways to measure and reward quality, as well.

In our LinkedIn example, that would mean measuring not only the number of InMails sent, but also keeping track of relevant efficiency metrics, or ratio metrics — like responses, connects, or demos set based off of those initial InMails sent.

Nail Down Incentives

A lot of sales orgs set aside budget for incentives, but they offer the same prizes week after week, quarter after quarter. Thinking outside the box does wonders when it comes to getting your reps fired up.

One of our best sales incentives that we come back to year after year is our billboard incentive. In Q3, Ambition rents a billboard for the Account Exec who brings in the most annual contract value.

The winner chooses the location of the billboard (within reason, from a budget perspective) and designs the billboard content (within reason, from a let’s-keep-this-family-friendly perspective).

But in our current market, we know budgets have been cut left and right. If your incentive funds got slashed, you’ve still got options. For Ambition (and our customers), some of our all-time greatest contest prizes were free.

Here are a few sales incentive ideas to spark some inspiration.

It’s all about knowing your team and getting creative.

Get Buy-In

This is an easy step to forget, but it’s critical. Sales managers need to communicate every aspect of the competition on the front-end — from the structure and prizes to the KPIs and the ultimate goals.

If your reps think a contest is just for fun, they’ll likely treat it that way, with varying levels of engagement. But if you help them to understand how the contest contributes to their professional development and the success of your business, you’ll find your team will take the competition that much more seriously.

This is especially important when your team is distributed. Make sure you’re getting the word out about your competition ahead of time. Announce it in department meetings, get people amped up in Slack — and let the rest of your company in on it, too, so they can cheer from the sidelines.

That brings us to our next point…

Maximize Visibility

Make sure the status of your competition is accessible to your team 24/7. That means steering clear of whiteboards and spreadsheets and making results available in real-time.

Of course, this is easier to do under normal circumstances when everyone’s in the office together. If you have a gamification tool that integrates with your CRM, you can simply broadcast real-time competition slides to your sales TVs.

The good news is that remote teams can get in on the action, too. Choose a sales gamification tool whose leaderboards are accessible via URLs, so that reps can keep tabs (literally!) on their standings in their own browser.

You can also take it a step further by creating triggers and alerts that fire in Slack when reps complete a key activity or hit a designated benchmark, ensuring that everyone stays 100% engaged, no matter where they are.

As an added bonus, this holds everyone accountable to their goals.

Recognize and Celebrate

Incentives — financial and otherwise — can be highly motivating. But reps (and humans in general) also thrive off of public recognition, which acts as a positive feedback loop for the right behaviors. And it pulls double duty by reinforcing those behaviors for other reps who are looking to improve.

Once again, remote circumstances can present a challenge when you’re not in the office to give someone a real-time high five or acknowledge a job-well-done within earshot of your whole sales floor.

But it’s not impossible.

Again, leverage leaderboards and integrated alerts so everyone has the chance to shout out wins, big and small. And be sure to use your remote communication tools — think Zoom and Slack — to announce and reward contest winners where the whole company can see it.

Start Designing Your Next Competition Today

Sales competitions may be more difficult in our remote environment, but they’re more important now than ever before.

So, don’t shy away from them.

Whether you’re running an afternoon call blitz or a weeks-long World-Cup-style competition, follow this framework, and you’ll be sure to get a quick lift in the activities that matter most and drive lasting behavior change, no matter where your reps may be.

Hey I’m Brian. I’m the COO and cofounder of Ambition, the leading sales coaching and recognition platform for the Fortune 500 and modern sales teams.

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