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Design Ideas for Sales Contests and Spiffs

Updated on October 25, 2015

Design Ideas For Sales Contests & Sales Spiffs

Sales Contests can be a terrific way to motivate your sales teams, improve morale and drive short term lifts in sales performance. This article will provide Sales Leaders an overview of the three components to consider when designing effective sales contests.

Have you ever participated in a contest, but had no idea who was winning or if you were in the lead? Have you ever implemented a contest, but found that you could not measure the results? Do your sales reps often have to wait several weeks before a contest winner is announced?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your sales contests are likely not motivating your reps or driving changes in sales performance. Just like designing a sales compensation plan requires some time and analysis, an effective sales contest has several design principles.

Most contests or spiffs are made up of three components:

  1. A Sales Driver
  2. Measurement To Win
  3. A Prize

The right combination of the three depends on your company, your product, the complexity of sale and other differentiating factors. Most sales leaders recommend keeping the design as simple as possible, so Reps can understand, measure and drive their own performance against the contest criteria.

Increase Sales Dollars With Sales Spiffs!
Increase Sales Dollars With Sales Spiffs!

Sales Spiff Drivers

A "Sales Driver" in a contest is something that you want to influence because you believe it will help you to achieve your organizational goals. Contest sales drivers can be either quantitative or qualitative. Most managers choose quantitative since they’re the easiest to track. Here's a list of popular sales contest drivers:

  • Sales Dollars, Revenue Dollars, Sales/Revenue For Target Products, Attainment of Quota, Average Order Size, New Business- Renewals-Winbacks, Pipeline Built, Quotes/Proposals Sent, Quote/Proposal Close Rate, Telephone Calls, Face To Face Visits, Decision Maker Contacts, Voicemails Returned/Inbound Calls, Phone Time
  • You may also want to tie your contest to sales behaviors. For example: Listening for sales reps using sales scripting or voicemail messages that you’ve coached them to use. Sales behaviors do drive sales, but are harder to track and measure. (There may also be some legal considerations if you need to listen to calls, to monitor the desired behaviors.)

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Contest Measurement Ideas

Once you’ve chosen your sales driver, you need to add in the measurement, time frame and determine how winners will be chosen. Here's a list of popular contest measurements.

  • First, Most or Highest
  • Most improved or biggest gains in specific period, ex. day over day, week over week
  • Best team performance
  • Most team members achieving drivers (ex. 70% of team, versus 30% of team)

Whatever you choose must be easy to explain, track and report on.

Sales Contest Prizes

When determining the size or value of your contest prize, in addition to your budget, you need to consider the prize size in comparison to the sales reps’ existing incentive or commission plan, as well as the contest return on investment (ROI).

If Reps have a very lucrative commission plan outside of the contest, the prize for your contest will need to be lucrative enough in comparison to drive any results.

For example, if my monthly incentive target is $10,000 and is tied to hitting my sales dollar quota, if you run a contest tied to the best voicemail messages and the prize is only $100 or a company golf shirt, I will probably not participate. It would be in my best interest to focus on driving sales toward my $10,000 payout. On the flipside, if the contest prize is too lucrative, I may stop focusing on my core responsibilities and just try to win the contest prize.

You should also consider the ROI for sales contests. If you plan to distribute an extra $10,000 in contest prizes, what incremental lift do you expect? Get together with your Finance partner and play around with some models to determine expected results. Then, after you run your contest, compare the results to the model and see how you fared. These learnings can be used next time you design and implement a contest.

Sales Incentive Ideas

Plan The Communication... Implement.. Announce Winners

Once you have chosen your sales driver(s), measurements and prizes you are almost ready to implement. First, devise your communication plan.

This is your plan for announcing and providing ongoing updates to your sales team members about the contest or spiff. I recommend mixing a variety of mediums such as email, voicemail and old fashioned signage around the office. You want the contest and the rankings to be front of mind.

And, when the contest ends, you need to swiftly announce the winners of the contest. How quickly? As soon as possible.. as soon as you have 100% accurate results.

Good luck with your sales spiffs and contests!!

Author Marci Reynolds, 2009/2011/2015, All Rights Reserved

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    • profile image

      Paul Jordan 4 years ago

      I encourage You to read about Organization’s success and the employee engagement level. Great intro article to better sales force motivation using sales contest

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    • Mitch Alan profile image

      Mitch Alan 8 years ago from South Jersey

      Great ideas...and as important...well presented.

    • profile image

      Danielson 8 years ago

      Great ideas from a great writer.