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The Benefits of Competitive Gamification in Sales

By Star Report 5 min read

Internal contests among businesses are on the rise. We're talking about those fun promotions or incentives put together by a creative team to drive productivity among employees. In the sales industry, particularly, these efforts can thrive due to the role's competitive nature; these contests can further motivation, foster teamwork, and rapidly increase sales. A recent incentive program put together by our own company, New Home Star, is proof of how successful these initiatives can be.

Back in February, we decided to formulate a national sales competition based on the timely launch of the 2016 March Madness (for copyright reasons we called it March Madnezz). The premise was simple: Our sales divisions across the country would be broken into micro-groups of five, based on location, and would compete in a five-week bracket for the highest sales-to-goal percentages. Regionals teams would face off and subsequently advance to the next round. We'd run sales contests before--rather frequently--but the results from this contest were incomparable and record shattering by the end of week one. So, how do you find a contest that's right for your sales team? What ensures a successful competition that ultimately increases sales numbers? Take these tips into consideration:

1.  Utilize a cultural phenomenon.

Amping your salespeople can be as simple as finding the correct "theme" for your competition. Take advantage of seasonal events or cultural phenomenons that specifically interest your employees. If your team is primarily millennials, versus seasoned professionals, the contest themes may look different.

2. Engage every level of sales professional.

Sales teams are bound to be a blend of trainees and industry experts. Cater your competition to groups at every end of the spectrum. For example, we decided to measure sales-to-goal percentages so that smaller operations weren't at a disadvantage to our larger divisions. Because our salespeople were put into teams, even the newest trainees had experienced leaders to turn to for mentorship.

3. Promote camaraderie.

The sales industry can be so individually driven that teamwork is often neglected. While each salesperson is challenged to exceed sales goals on an individual basis, the ultimate measurement is group-based. This in itself creates a fun, competitive camaraderie, much like a sports team!

3. Advocate engagement.

Don't just settle for creating and launching a competition. Drive motivation and excitement by amping up your sales team via social media (if your page is geared towards an internal audience), email, or company newsletter. We challenged our sales professionals to send us pictures of their team getting ready to 'embrace the madness'. In turn, we received fun basketball-themed photos from almost every team, which we shared on social. We also used Facebook to post bracket results at the end of each week.

4. Prepare managers beforehand.

Creating collateral is important. These internal pieces can enhance your overall program. For our contest, it worked best to prepare our managers a few days before the competition's start date so that they could understand the logistics and talk things out with their team. We provided them with a PowerPoint that covered rules, the prize, the dates of each bracket round, and more. We also created a flyer and highlighted the contest in our company newsletter.

5. Keep it simple (but captivating!)

Don't overwhelm your team. Keep the contest engaging but simple enough that the rules are easy to understand. A contest that's too complex is ultimately doomed to fail.

6. Diversify the incentives.

The biggest hardship we stumbled across while planning March Madnezz was figuring out a way to keep the "losers" engaged. When your team doesn't advance, why keep the momentum going? We combatted this possibility by adding smaller scale awards that non-bracket salespeople can still pursue. In our case, the top three teams with the highest sales-to-goal percentages overall can receive a March Madnezz party budget. Individuals can compete for the titles of 'Highest Sales Volume', 'Highest Sales-to-Goal Percentage Overall', 'Rookie of the Year', etc.

7. Make the contest kick-off a BIG deal.

Don't just announce dates. Make the contest kickoff a big deal! Urge sales teams to have a meeting about tactics and strategies and get excited about this big initiative.

8. Make the grand prize epic!

Let's face it. One of the biggest ways to keep employees engaged in an internal contest is the 'light at the end of the tunnel'. Our March Madnezz contest rewards the champion team with an awesome VIP Sports Package, inclusive of tickets to a game or event of that team's choice. We're stamping a $4,000 value onto the prize and awarding the smaller wins (listed in # 6) with gift cards and team parties. What prize will keep your employees' heads in the game?

The greatest caveat of creating a large-scale internal contest is the amount of time and preparation that goes into producing a successful program. If you have a marketing team, let this creative group create collateral and promotional pieces. Be prepared ahead of time and make sure that leadership has a grasp on how this contest will work. While it may take multiple meetings and a bit of extra prep time, the results pay huge dividends. In our case, it was a 55.73% year-over-year increase in the month of March. Get your team engaged and having fun and let your sales numbers reap the rewards.

Originally published Apr 7, 2016 under Explore the latest topics, updated February 21, 2022

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