How to increase competition amongst your sales teams

by Steli Efti
sales_competiton_men_arm_wrestling

Like you, David Schwall, a director who headed up inside sales at Clayton Homes, thought his team could achieve more. Eager to try something different, he turned his sales competition into a fantasy sports competition.

Schwall made his managers team owners, who then drafted all the reps in Clayton’s inside sales unit into five fantasy football teams. (The unit itself served as the “league.”) Individuals scored points according to their sales performance in three critical areas:

  • The number of calls made to high-potential leads
  • The percentage of those calls which resulted in a confirmed appointment at one of about 1,000 retail stores
  • The percentage of those individuals they subsequently transferred by phone to the proper local store (which improves the likelihood that a customer will show up for his or her appointment).

Different teams went head to head each week; the top four faced off in the championships. In their last season, the inside sales team saw an 18% spike in outbound calls, doubled the percentage of calls that resulted in an appointment, and increased the number of transferred calls eightfold. Overall, visits to retail stores tracked back to referrals by the inside sales team are now up over 200%.

As the above story demonstrates, well-designed competitions are powerful forces for change. And we’re going to show you how to create your own effective competitions in six steps.  

1. Know your sales metrics

The purpose of any contest should be to improve key sales metrics. Dave Lavinsky, co-founder of Growthink, suggests tracking and improving the following six sales metrics on an ongoing basis:

  1. Total sales by time period: Evaluate exactly how well your team is performing within a specific timeframe.
  2. Sales by product or service: Monitor what's selling and what's not.
  3. Sales by lead source: Improve your lead generation and stop wasting money on sources that don't produce leads.
  4. Revenue per sale: McDonald's doubled its profits when it started asking, "Would you like fries with that?” How can your sales reps cross-sell better?
  5. New vs. returning customer sales: What percentage of your sales are coming from new customers versus returning customers? Increasing customer lifetime value can improve sales.
  6. Sales per prior activity: Prior activities are events that occurred shortly before the sale. Your team can track sales per lead or sales per phone call.

For the best results, focus on improving one metric at a time. Trying to take on too much in a single competition would hurt more than it helps.

2. Focus on the right behaviors and create teams

Once you have decided upon a metric, you’ll need to identify the behaviors required to drive the desired results—think in terms of what they will specifically need to start, stop, or keep doing.

By framing the competition in terms of behaviors, instead of results, you’ll help reps focus on the things they can actually control. For instance, if you want your team to convert leads at a higher rate, you could have them use better cold-email templates or drip marketing emails.

And don’t limit yourself to individual behavior. Make it a team effort by hold a competition between sales teams. Top performers’ drive to win—which is one of their key traits—will encourage them to help weaker teammates and weaker performers will do their best to avoid letting their teammates down.

Not only will this promote team learning, it will also improve team morale and cohesion. Use your team’s natural competitiveness in a healthy manner in order to effectively engage everyone.

3. Communicate the details

Next, you’ll need to communicate all of the details regarding the purpose of the contest, the rules, timelines, prizes, etc. This cannot be emphasized enough: communication of the promotion is critical to its overall success.

It’s not enough to tell people what to do; you must also tell them why you’re holding the promotion and what it means for the company as well as the participants.

4. Create a sense of urgency

The best sales contests are short-term contests because they create a sense of urgency, which keeps sales reps engaged. If your competition is too long, you risk sales rep losing interest in the contest.

Organize daily or weekly sales goals for your team. Try the following suggestions:

  • Close five deals before noon.
  • Upsell to four existing clients.
  • Convert two prospects who currently buy from competitors.

Resist the temptation to accept complacency. Push your team one step further toward excellence. Always keep them in the uncomfortable zone.

As human beings, even the most ambitious of us lose motivation. Some days, we want a three-month vacation. It's normal, but normal won't lead to excellence. Condition your team to be better. Every single day, start the score at zero. No one gets a head start.

What matters today is what you achieve today.

5. Publicly track the results

Finally, select someone in advance to track progress and results. Ideally, promotion tracking should be done in real time in order for your sales team to follow along. If that isn’t possible, you should publicize the results on a daily basis on a leaderboard. If you’re going to have a contest, you want it to be in the forefront of your team members’ minds.

6. Give public recognition

Rewards are nice, but don’t underestimate the power of recognition.

According to the Aberdeen Group, “60% of Best-in-Class organizations stated that employee recognition is extremely valuable in driving individual performance.”

People enjoy receiving public recognition for their work. It translates into a sense of belonging and acceptance by their colleagues.

When your sales reps achieve great results, give them that recognition via a company-wide email announcement or through a Skype call with the sales team.

Public recognition will spark an internal flame within your reps to do better and to be acknowledged by their peers. They will be more inspired to improve their output and more eager to accelerate their professional development.

“When my sales reps have an exceptional week I find that publicly recognizing their accomplishments in front of their peers is that extra little morale boost to keep pushing,” Nima Noori, CEO & founder of Toronto Vaporizer.

“We make sure the entire office is aware of the accomplishments of our reps by holding an ‘honoring ceremony.’”

Keep your team motivated. Encourage your reps to watch Close.io’s sales motivation videos.

Bonus step: hire new people

Want to improve performance during slow periods? Bring others on board.

Let new hires exhibit the results your company desires. Hungry sales reps who want to win badly will outperform. They will add firepower to your sales efforts and might even be able to show your current team a miracle.

Hiring a batch of salespeople will inspire the seasoned team. It sets a brand-new precedent for success. It’s like creating a friendly rivalry between the freshman class and the senior class.

When you try a different sales approach, monitor whether the strategy doesn’t work or if it’s someone's inability to execute correctly. It also lets you see what “good” and “bad” performance looks like.

Let the games begin

When performance is slipping downward, reignite the spirit of competition amongst your sales reps. A simple contest is a powerful motivator to improve performance and to try new sales tactics.

Give your team something to work toward. Sweeten the deal with rewards and recognition, and create a culture of success.

Be better! Train your salespeople to be their best, and sign up for our below to close more deals!

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