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Top 10 Sales Contest Ideas

September 11, 2020

We’ve all heard the term “sales gamification” floating around the internet. Sales managers across the globe swear by it. They say it boosts sales motivation. And sure, there are obvious benefits to using positive reinforcement. But how do you do it in the workplace?

As a sales manager, you must ensure your team reaches their sales targets. At the same time, you also have to maintain a proper work environment. After all, you can’t turn the office into a zoo. Hence, your sales contests must do three things:

  • Your sales contest ideas need to be fun so that your team participates enthusiastically, not out of obligation.
  • Employ sales contests that respect the workplace environment; no paintball games, for instance.
  • The contests must boost sales.

How do you achieve all this? That’s what we’re here to discuss. First, I’ll tell you how you can make your own sales contest. Second, I’ll give you ten sales contest ideas that you can motivate your team with, starting tomorrow! 

How to design a sales contest?

You have to keep a few things in mind when designing a contest. First and foremost, remember that the goal is to create healthy competition, not a toxic situation. 

Secondly, remember that your employees are individuals, each with unique talents. So, try to reward them based on their respective efforts, instead of just the final outcome. I’ll elaborate on this shortly. 

For now, here are the four basic tenets of a good sales contest

  1. Actions over outcomes

Reward actions. Often your team will be doing their best, but, despite giving it their all, your sales reps might not get the results they were after. This could be because of an external factor that was beyond their control.

For example, if a member of your sales team made an important call to a potential customer, but lost the deal because of the foul mood the customer was in, they are not to blame. 

So, I’d advise you to reward your sale team’s top performers for their intentions and efforts, instead of on the ultimate result.

I understand how this can be tricky to follow up with, sometimes. After all, most companies are used to tracking their sales (with respect to the number of deals closed) and rewarding employees accordingly. 

However, it would be smarter if you devised a system that could, for example, track how many sales calls each employee has made instead of the deals they successfully closed. This will allow you to reward them for initiating a purposeful actions instead of only rewarding the sales performance.

To summarize, try to reward employees for their actions instead of just the outcomes. Create a sales contest with a metric that measures effort over final sales volume. Knowing that their efforts are being rewarded will encourage sales reps to work harder at their job, ultimately improving their interest in work, as well as allowing them to achieve a sense of accomplishment for their efforts, regardless of how the customer reacted (because that is not in your sales rep’s hands).

  1. Public recognition

Do you know what drives people even more than a reward? It’s showing them the finish line and exactly where they stand. This system provides an excellent sales incentive because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t appreciate public recognition.

One of the greatest flaws of the modern corporate system is its inability to (or lack of effort to) recognize employees as individuals who are giving their all for a company that isn’t even theirs. Feeling like they’re just another cog in the clockwork system can reduce motivation, and ultimately reduce your firm’s sales, too.

This means that it’s important to let your sales employees feel recognized. Let them know that they are valued, and they will be motivated to work harder, ultimately resulting in your company generating more sales.

Public recognition is a form of a popular psychological phenomenon called “positive reinforcement.” The positive reinforcement theory, supported by top psychology researchers like Skinner and Pavlov (whose works have left a permanent mark at the heart of consumer and marketing psychology), tells us that a person is more likely to continue to work hard at something if they are being recognized and praised for it. 

It will also set the bar high for them, and make them feel like they should continue working hard to maintain their status as a top employee. 

Publicly recognizing your employees for their hard work is an excellent way to do this, so go for it and watch as your sales rep team members begin to show an improvement in performance. 

Remember, a happy employee is a profitable employee. 

  1. Avoid always using contests with first-place winners

If you were ever the kid in P.E. who always got picked last, you’re already familiar with what this means. Over time, you’d get used to always being last, and accept your fate. As a result, you’d give up on even trying to get picked first, because, evidently, your efforts just haven’t been good enough for you to amount to anything.

The same can be said for every employee who falls short of first place by a few points each time, or those employees who feel like they’re just not cut out to be winner. 

This feeling is further reinforced when it’s the same small group of people winning first place repeatedly, which can take a hit on the confidence levels on those who aren’t at par with the winner. You’ll then need to work on boosting these confidence levels, or else it could send your reps off track. 

Sociologists like Howard Becker call this “labeling theory”. In sales and marketing, labeling theory tells us that when a person, like an employee, shows the same behavior continuously over a longer time frame, their personality gets labeled in accordance with that metric. 

So, an employee who performs averagely in sales contests (and can never really win first place) may earn the label of being “average.” They will eventually accept this label, and submit to displaying average performance, because being “average,” thanks to the label, has become a core personality trait in the way other people, including the bosses of the company they’re employed at, see them.

While sales contests that only reward the sales rep winner who achieves first place do a great job at motivating the team’s top performers, it also reinforces the “averageness” of those employees who never manage to win first place. Hence, it’s important to come up with contest ideas to motivate the “average” sales reps to work harder, too, (and help those in the middle feel like they’re at the top of their game!) in addition to those who regularly secure wins. 

Leading on from this point, it’s safe to say that when corporations only celebrate their top performer instead of the entire team, they’re missing out on the opportunity to motivate those who aren’t used to winning first place. Fact is, there’s more to a sales team than just the top scorer. 

A good performance management boss or marketeer will try to create a type of contest or fun sales competition that not only recognizes people with top sales performance, but also acknowledges the entire team for their efforts and contribution in making your business a success. 

Simply put, you should aim to engage all workers, not just your best worker. Fantasy and team sales contests work well for this purpose and can help you motivate the whole team instead of just a select few sales reps.

  1. Get people fired up

Sure, getting paid at the end of the month can excite any employee, but what about the rest of their time? As a leader, it’s your duty to provide incentives that will not only drive sales up, but also engage your employees in a way that makes them wake up every day and anticipate going to work and putting their best performance in.

An end of the month salary can motivate workers for a little while, but it isn’t enough to keep them at the top of their game every single day. In order to achieve that level of performance, you’re going to  have to adopt other ways to fire up your employees.

Sales contest games are an excellent way to do this. Not only do they encourage sales team members to work hard at winning the contest, they also give workers something to look forward to instead of mundane paperwork and sales phone calls that are a staple in their everyday routine. 

Popular sales contest ideas include conducting a daily or weekly raffle, playing March Madness, or some other type of activity-based sales contest. If you’re not sure about which sales competition to conduct, consider getting inside sales member’s heads by gathering them for a meeting that’s solely for discussing fun workplace sales contest idea options. 

The games must get your reps excited. Things like giving rewards and prizes in real-time, and not just at the end of the month, will keep them motivated to engage in a little bit of fun, healthy competition and get a chance to win in future games with small prizes. 

In addition to creating fun sales contest ideas, you should also focus on appreciating your sales team for their hard work and give a casual but effective motivational speech from time to time. 

If you’re keen on encouraging healthy competition and using a creative sales contest idea to do it, keep reading for  some fantastic examples that can help increase sales, give your sales leaders an incentive for hard work and chance to win, as well as make work so fun that they can’t wait for the next round!

Sales contest ideas

As promised, below is a detailed list of 10 brilliant sales contest ideas. You can either choose one yourself, or make it interactive by asking your sales teams which contest options they prefer.

Remember, different contests have different endpoints. Shortlist the ones that are best suited to your needs, and allow your sales team to choose from them.

Head-to-Head Competition

Here are the most popular head-to-head competition ideas for teams. The following contests are excellent for improving the performance of all your sales reps, and not just those who are used to putting out excellent performance on a regular basis. 

  1. Ransom Daily Raffle

To conduct this sales game, you give a raffle ticket for every 50 outbound calls, for example. At the end of the contest, you draw a raffle number. The person with the winning ticket gets the prize. 

Since having more raffle tickets means a greater chance of winning, people will work to get as many as possible. 

This raffle game also keeps the full team engaged, even if they do not win the prize for first place.

Best for outbound sales teams.

  1. Flash Contest 

Pick a couple of activities: calls and emails, for instance. Then set a time period. Whoever has the highest number of actions at the end wins. You then offer the rest of the evening off as a prize.

People want to go home early and will be motivated to complete whatever task you give them. It helps the company because you push reps to focus on all their responsibilities instead of just one. 

Best for inside sales teams.

  1. East Coast vs. West Coast

Split your team in two by territory. Whichever team books the most meetings in a set period wins and gets a prize. 

I’d recommend you set a short period of time, like a day or a week, to dodge the chance of fatigue, and makes goals more attainable, which is enough incentive to make them work hard. Focusing on goals that your reps have control over boosts morale while benefiting your business. 

Best for sales teams who utilize territory.

  1. Snooze Buttons

All businesses see their work volume go up and down, and you need your reps to put in their all when it goes up. 

There is no point in calling your reps in on a day when there’s little to no work to be done. Interestingly, a deficiency in the amount of work available can reduce worker motivation and promote laziness, because there’s simply nothing to do!

To avoid taking incentive away from your workers, I’d advise you to try offering teams a ‘snooze button’ for a late start on low-volume days. Doing so won’t cost the company any money, so your business won’t need to adjust its profit margins. 

Instead, it will improve the mood of your sales teams, and allow them extra time off, which they can use to relax…and everyone knows that a well-rested rep is more likely to perform better than a burnt-out one! 

Alternately, you can also give your sales team members the option to leave early if all of their work has been completed. 

Side Note:

Avoid making your team members compensate this time off on a busier day – doing so will only serve to demotivate your workers and make them feel undervalued, which is the fastest way to trigger a decline in performance and, ultimately, sales. 

It will also tamper with their daily personal schedules, which can cause chaos in their personal lives. Events like that always reflect in workplace performance, which is why it’s better to award your team the “snooze alarm” feature as a prize without directly asking for anything in return – you’ll get your reward when you see how giving them some extra time off can increase sales!

Fantasy-style competition

Looking to add a dramatic flair to a mundane workplace? I’d advise you to look into adopting one of the following fantasy-style creative sales contest options for your team – don’t forget to include a prize for the winner, too!

  1. Shark Week 

Pair AEs and SDRs into teams and give them a list of accounts to work. Award one point for every call, one for every email, and ten for every meeting booked. The list means you’re booking ideal clients, and the sales contest keeps your reps motivated.

Best for AE/SDR teams.

  1. Pair Selling

Pair an old rep with a new one and set up a sales contest. Use efficiency metrics such as connects or meeting sets. You’ll help less experienced reps learn from a senior who is motivated to get them to do well because they want to win. 

To make sure your new rep has enough time to learn from the older one, give this contest a 3-4 week time frame. Adding in extra weeks can demotivate your older employee and make them feel overworked, while reducing the number of weeks can negatively impact your new employee’s learning capacity. 

Best for fast-growing sales teams. 

  1. A+ Activity Score

Push your reps to meet their scorecard’s targets with fantasy competitions. Be sure to set up a new scorecard and contest every week, or else your workers might begin to lose interest. Don’t forget to reward them with prizes when these targets have been met – remember, incentives are important! 

Ask your manager to arrange for cards display the most crucial task for the day/week, or do it yourself if you can. In this way, you can build sales rep habits and boost sales motivation.

Since the scorecards are role-specific, anyone can use this game!

Firing up your remote team 

Do you work with a remote team? If so, the following sales incentive contest ideas might be perfect for you: 

  1. Monday Morning Rush

Set up a 1-hour contest on Monday mornings to start the week strong. Remote workers who don’t visit the office often laze around after the weekend, but this should push them into work mode. Award one point per dial, two per voicemail, ten per conversation, and fifty per SQL made. 

Reward the rep with the most points at the end of the week with fun prizes, or else they may lose motivation. 

  1. Talk Time

This is a weekly sales contest that awards points based on the total minutes of active talk time spent in calls or meetings with prospects. It makes office reps think about quality and dialing for ICP connections. Every minute gets one point, and the winner gets credit on the sales TV that runs in laptop browsers for your remote workers.

  1. The Green Coat

For this game, you give points and prizes based on activity scores. Each activity gets one score point, and you can calculate the total in a multi-metric scorecard format. Since The Green Coat lasts a week, you can keep remote sales reps engaged each day. 

It is particularly helpful for new hires who want to feel like they are contributing to the company. Even if they aren’t booking meetings, they complete day-to-day tasks, and should get the chance to compete for a prize, too. 


Sales gamification can be a powerful tool to boost the number of sales deals successfully closed by your team. These contests serve as an incentive for your team members to put in an extra effort because they know that whoever performs best will get a prize and be recognized for their hard work. 

Over 70% of business firms are either using this contest technique right now, or plan to initiate it soon. 

If used correctly, gamification through fun contests can double or even triple sales generated by your business, as well as get workers back on track by giving them desirable incentives (like winning some extra time off as a prize for working hard). 

However, if these contests are executed inefficiently, or used as a tool to apply unreasonably large amounts of pressure upon your team members, it will turn off both buyers and your business reps, which simply cannot be afforded. 

You should also schedule regular meetings to discuss progress with our teammates as their manager. That way, they can bring up any complaints or suggestions they may have. You can employ this feedback to help make the work environment better for everyone. 

To conclude, I hope you found a game suited to your needs on this list. And if not, I hope you’ve been inspired to create your own to help get your teammates back on track and allows your business to secure more deals.

Good luck!

Put those insights into practice.

Set your team up for success by improving their performance through gamification.

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