Sizzling Sales Contests Offer Three Prizes

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The good news about conventional sales contests is that there is a big winner, and generally, that person is very, very happy.

The bad news is that everyone else is a loser.

If you have a sales leader, someone who just keeps beating the pants off of everybody, then there’s no suspense left, the moment you announce a contest. From that instant forward, every other member of the sales team is yawning, scratching his head, murmuring, “Why bother?”

Now, isn’t that the exact opposite emotion that we want? Contests are supposed to motivate, electrify, focus people; not to make them more apathetic than before. But that’s the tendency of winner-take-all competitions.

They’re not competitions. They’re coronations.

So, how can we avoid this problem and get everybody excited?

It takes a little more arithmetic, but here’s what you do. Offer a three-in-one contest:

(1) There’s a Grand Prize, and yes, that goes to the top seller.

(2) There’s a Team Prize, that will be awarded based on the total production of all contest participants; and

(3) There are Personal Best Awards, based on whether an individual surpasses his performance peaks from the past.

Rookies as well as veterans can win. Everybody can win. And the neat thing is that you have created positive motivation for all, without de-motivating anybody.

Plus, when you have a runaway leader, well, nobody can give up because there are peer pressures, as well as individual incentives to keep working until the contest clock stops.

I’ve used this design and its power never ceases to amaze me.

As far as sales contests go, it’s a real winner!

Dr. Gary S. Goodman, President of, is a popular keynote speaker, management consultant, and seminar leader and the best-selling author of 12 books, including Reach Out & Sell Someone® and Monitoring, Measuring & Managing Customer Service. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, worldwide. A Ph. D. from USC's Annenberg School, Gary offers programs through UCLA Extension and numerous universities, trade associations, and other organizations in the United States and abroad. He is headquartered in Glendale, California, and he can be reached at (818) 243-7338 or at:


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