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10 Sales Contest Ideas to Motivate the Team

Written by:

Victoria Yu is a Business Writer with expertise in Business Organization, Marketing, and Sales, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of California, Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business.

Edited by:

Sallie, holding a Ph.D. from Walden University, is an experienced writing coach and editor with a background in marketing. She has served roles in corporate communications and taught at institutions like the University of Florida.

10 Sales Contest Ideas to Motivate the Team

10 Sales Contest Ideas to Motivate the Team

Email, call, negotiate, close, follow up, email, call, negotiate, close, follow up, and so on, and so on, and so on. Yes, the sales process can get monotonous for even the most motivated of sales representatives, and the monotony can quench enthusiasm, drag down performance, and demoralize even the best and most dedicated of sales reps. The question is, how can you, as a sales manager or business owner, fight against this brand of boredom that comes naturally when there is a lack of excitement?

One great way to break up your sales employees’ boring everyday routines is by implementing a sales contest, pitting rep against rep for the chance to claim a prize. Not only do sales contests encourage reps and foster healthy competition, they can also exert a great and positive impact on your bottom line.

So what sort of sales contests should you run? Though you might be tempted to simply say that the highest-performing rep wins, doing so would only reinforce the current hierarchy. Instead, you might think about shaking things up a bit by using our curated list of 10 creative sales contest ideas, livening up your sales department and cheering on the best salesperson to victory.

Key Takeaways

  • Sales contests are competitions within a sales department, enlivening the sales process by encouraging sales representatives to strive to reach some sort of goal to win a prize.

  • Sales contests improve employee morale and reduce turnover because they acknowledge reps’ hard work and give extra work performance incentives.

  • Ten sales contest ideas we will be discussing that you could implement include the “personal best breaker,” the “loser takes all,” the “daily prize, the “half-day prize” the “buddy system,” “bingo,” the “democracy,” “raffle tickets,” the “pounce-on-you game,” and “dethrone the king.”

Why Should I Create Sales Contests?

Now you might be asking why you, as a manager, need to waste your time organizing a sales contest? You might be thinking that having a paycheck waiting at the end of two weeks or the end of a month should be enough motivation for any sales rep.

Logically, that’s true. A good salary should be enough to motivate employees – after all, your employees can exchange the money you pay them for other entertaining goods or services. But practically speaking, as human beings, we all are subject to getting bored with doing the same tasks day in and day out for months on end. And that is where sales contests come in. Sales contests offer you a way to breathe new life into your employees’ work days, injecting fun and challenge into their old routines.

Let’s look at three different ways that implementing sales contests can benefit your company.

1. Give Acknowledgement

First, sales contests (and subsequently winning sales contests) is another way for sales people to receive acknowledgement for their hard work. Even with commission-based compensation structures, making more sales can just feel like another tick in the sales funnel for managers and reps alike, something to be expected rather than rewarded.

Running a sales contest casts a new spotlight on each employee, forcing managers and reps alike to re-evaluate performance, see great work as it is, and acknowledge the workers who go above and beyond. Even if they don’t win, just knowing that someone is watching their performance and having their results posted on a scoreboard could be enough to improve employee confidence and morale. 

2. Reduce Attrition

Related to the last point, disengaged and unappreciated employees are likely to quit. In a 2017 survey by employee engagement software solution provider Achievers, a quarter of employees reported that they were planning to switch jobs because of a lack of recognition and engagement with their current employer. 

Sales contests work to provide this recognition and engagement, allowing the company to keep skilled employees on for longer and reducing the company’s attrition rate.

3. Boost Sales

Finally, the obvious benefit is that the more activities sales reps complete per day, the more sales they’ll likely make, overall. Even if your sales contest is judged based on activity metrics (such as the number of emails sent or phone calls made) rather than on the outright number of deals closed, doing more of any sort of task related to the job is certain to show improved sales results eventually. 

10 Sales Contest Ideas

Sales contest ideas usually vary by the activity they measure, the prizes they award, and the time frame used for measurement, in order to perfectly fit the activities and goals of each company. As such, keep in mind that these contest ideas are simply that: ideas. You should feel free to customize them however you see fit for your sales team.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at 10 different sales contest ideas you could implement.

1. Personal Best Breaker

Let’s start off with a relatively simple sales contest: the personal best (PB) breaker. If your sales representatives all have different experience and activity levels, it’d be unfair to make a contest based on overall performance. Why? Because it’s likely the same person would end up winning every time, which would be quite discouraging.

Instead, with a PB contest, reps only compete against their own previous performance from the previous period. You could choose to measure every individual sales rep’s improvement in metrics such as their overall number of deals closed, emails sent, or phone calls made. 

At the end of the measurement period, you will announce to the team which members showed the most improvement in each area, and award prizes proportionately.

2. Loser Takes All

Here’s a bit of a curveball: rather than having the winner taking all, this contest rewards the sales rep who hears “no” the most in a given sales period. You might stage this contest when you feel there is a need for reps to get through their sales pitches faster. This game can serve as a pick-me-up for your poorly performing reps, helping them quickly overcome any negativity they might have felt from their lack of success. It also pushes reps to quickly close souring deals rather than letting them fester, clearing out clogs in your department’s sales funnel.

On the downside, if you run this competition too much, it may encourage reps to chase after poor leads simply to hear more “nos.” Therefore, you will need to be cautious in how often you allow your reps to play and win this game.

3. Daily Prize

With a daily prize competition, the sales manager sets up a pile of small wrapped prizes and a corresponding goal that changes per day. The first rep to finish the daily goal (such as sending a certain number of emails or reaching out to a certain number of leads) can pick a random prize from the pile.

Because these are everyday prizes, try not to spend too much money per prize – think small, useful items, like a candy bar, a pencil sharpener, or sticky notes. What matters more than the prize is that the gifts are random and wrapped, and that opening them provides the same kind of excitement as opening gifts on Christmas morning.

4. Half-Day Prize

If your sales department works in an office, you could offer them the chance to go home early instead of offering a physical gift. You might set a goal for your sales team to achieve by Friday afternoon – and if they reach the goal, then the whole team goes home early and to get a head start on their weekend.

Rather than a strict contest between employees, this system encourages the team to work together and to individually contribute their best efforts to reach a shared goal. Since not much work is usually done on a Friday after 3 pm, anyway, there’s not much financial loss to the company, and your team will love you for allowing them to get an early start on their weekends.

5. Buddy System

 If you’ve expanded your sales department recently with a host of new sales reps, this contest will help newbies bond with the rest of the team by pairing new reps with your most experienced reps, and having each team compete for the most improved performance in each team.

Not only will this create short-term competitiveness and spark new friendships, but hopefully your newer or lower-performing sales reps will learn new skills from their more experienced buddies, which  will help them grow and improve, in the long term.

If you choose to run this contest multiple times, it might be helpful to switch up the pairings every month or so to shake up the rankings and introduce your low performers to new people. You can also make teams rather than pairs, depending on your ratio of pro salespeople to less experienced ones.

6. Bingo

If your salespeople are expected to complete a variety of tasks in a given week, you can make a bingo card using all the activities they perform, then award a prize for those who score bingo. 

A bingo game is also useful if you’re pushing reps to try new activities outside of their comfort zone. Using a bit of strategic thinking, you could fill most of a row with simple tasks, and force reps to try something new to fill those last one or two squares in order to get bingo.

7. Democracy

Rather than holding a competition and having the sales manager ordaining the winner, you could instead have each employee share their best sales tactic, then take a democratic vote on whose tactic is the best. These could be things such as great opening lines, objection handling techniques, body language tips, or closing techniques.

If your sales team is fairly new, employees might still be trying to get a feel for each others’ abilities and personalities. Therefore, this is a sales contest that can serve as both an icebreaker and a teaching moment, giving sales reps an opportunity to learn about their coworkers and partake in peer learning.

8. Raffle Tickets

With a raffle-based contest, sales reps can earn a designated number of raffle tickets for completing certain activities, hitting goals, or meeting timelines. The great thing about using a raffle as part of a sales contest  is that there’s no upper limit to the size of the ticket pool. That means you can set ticket prizes for more long-term goals and run the raffle for an entire sales period. Of course, the size of the prize should be commensurate with the length of the raffle.

The benefit of having a raffle is that, if you set multiple activities and run it for long enough, sales reps can strategically pick and choose which activities they complete to earn tickets. Unlike the bingo contest where reps needed to complete specific tasks to claim certain squares, the flexibility and the randomness of a raffle gives every rep the chance to win, even if they can’t complete some activities.

9. Pounce on You

Though not everyone wants to be #1, no one wants to come in dead last. With the pounce-on-you game, managers must choose one or more metrics that reps are scored on, and the rep with the lowest score in that metric will receive a minor punishment.  

Of course, the punishment shouldn’t be too dire – maybe the rep will have to donate $20 to a designated charity, buy donuts for the team, or do something silly, such as wearing a clown mask or a dunce cap for a few hours.

10. Dethrone the King

If your sales team has one outstanding rep, standard contests may not work well because most reps will assume the top performer will always win. To encourage the rest of your reps, this game paints a target on your top performer’s back and rewards the whole team if anyone can beat the top performer’s activity in a single metric over the course of a day. With luck, this will encourage the rest of your team to work together and share tips on how to improve their performance and beat the top performer.

As a sales manager, you could also play the game yourself and ask reps to beat you, spending a day on the floor with your team for a nice change of pace.


Gamifying your company’s sales activities is a great way to breathe fun and excitement into your employees’ everyday lives, improving their motivation and encouraging engagement at work. Whether you have only 10 reps or 50, this list is sure to give you some ideas regarding sales contests you could implement to get your reps up and moving.

Of course, every company, sales process, and sales department is different, so these 10 sales contest ideas might not fit straight off the rack. But with a bit of creative adaptation to your own sales team, you can hopefully develop a perfect sales contest that will rouse your reps’ competitive spirits, and add some excitement to the sales floor.


What are some best practices for setting up sales contests?

Before you even begin setting up your sales contest, you should set aside a portion of your quarterly budget specifically for the prizes you plan to give as a reward. As we mentioned earlier, the size of the prize should be commensurate with how long you run the contest for – while a manager could certainly absorb the cost of everyday prizes from the department store, they’d certainly balk at paying for a pricey dinner reservation or a paid vacation. The prizes should be things that your reps want or can use, so it’s best not to cut corners on price and quality.

To increase overall participation and interest in sales contests, it’s also important to constantly publicize and remind reps of the competition, lest they forget. Be sure to announce the competition to the whole team beforehand, give reminders and progress updates every few days, and let everyone know who won at the end.

How can I come up with more sales contest ideas?

If you’ve already run through all of these sales contest ideas and are strapped for more, you can simply change what activity metric you use to measure the contest. If you’re looking for more inspiration, ask your sales team which contests they liked the best and search online for similar contest formats. Your sales reps might even have contest suggestions of their own!

What are some sales contests that I shouldn’t implement?

As we’ve mentioned earlier, you should avoid sales contests that judge overall performance or winner-takes-all systems, as these ensure that only your top performer has any chance of winning. Ideally, your sales contest should be a mixture of both skill and luck, with everyone having a fair shot of success if they put some effort into it.