28 Sales Contest Ideas and What It Takes to Pull Them Off

Dave Cherrie
November 23, 2022

No one likes a micromanager. And you shouldn’t have to become one to keep your sales reps working toward sales targets. Not only that can be a major morale killer but, ironically, it can even tank your reps’ productivity. So, what’s a better way to keep your team on track? Sales contests. 

Sales contests make even the dullest everyday tasks more fun and drum up a little friendly competition among your reps. At the very least, they give each one an incentive to work their hardest. This can result in everything from more deals closed to higher average order values. 

But what kind of sales contest should you try? There’s no shortage of options. We’ll walk you through 28 here, as well as some tips for making your contests successful. 

28 sales contest ideas to motivate your team

We’ve got ideas for contests with a single winner or multiple, for self-competitions and team competitions. So, you’ll have plenty to choose from, no matter your preference. 

1. First to Finish 

Probably the simplest contest type, First to Finish is a straightforward goal-based contest. Set a target like meetings booked, leads qualified, or deals closed within a set time. Whoever reaches the target the fastest wins. 

2. Cross the Finish Line

Like First to Finish, you’ll set a sales goal and a timeline for the contest. The difference is—there can be more than one winner.

Fun fact: Arcade’s Race Game is the easiest way to run this contest type, allowing you to set a player target, the number of winners, and other settings in minutes. (You can try this as a play vs. player game or team vs. team.)

3. Bounty Game

Next is a more speed-focused game than the Race Game above. One-time awards can be given to individual players or the players on a team when they achieve a target. So long as they reach the target metric you set before time runs out on the contest, of course. 

4. Every Time

This game—available in Arcade—rewards team members each time they achieve a multiple of the target you set. So, for example, say your player target is five, and you’re tracking meetings booked. Each time a player books five meetings within a contest period, they get a prize.

5. Daily Duties Done

Do you know one of the highest-leverage things you can do as a sales leader? Encourage good habits among both new and experienced employees. Good habits promote personal accountability, keep productivity high, and help reps reach their objectives. 

Incentivize beyond big sales-focused wins. Hype mundane activities like sending follow-up emails, making calls, and scheduling meetings. Award points for each activity and a prize to the top scorer (or to the top three, if you feel generous). 

6. Rewards at Random

This contest—a raffle—is a cousin of Daily Duties Done. Instead of scoring each completed activity, hand out a raffle ticket for each one. At the end of the contest, raffle off an enticing prize. Spice it up by giving more raffle tickets for sales activities you consider more valuable.

7. Weekly Superstar

Another game available in Arcade, Weekly Superstar also rewards team members. The catch is that to win, a team member must receive a Recognition Star from a teammate during the week. Arcade then chooses a winner from the list of reps who received a star. 

8. Past vs. Present

Out of all the sales metrics you track, which one needs the biggest boost to reach its corresponding goals? Once you’ve identified it, challenge your sales representatives to top their past performance. Or try a challenge like, “Whoever increases their lead conversion rate the most this month wins”. 

9. The Checklist Challenge

A lot like a scavenger hunt, The Checklist Challenge is fun because it levels the playing field. Reps must complete a series of varied activities to be eligible to win. And only the person who finishes first takes home the prize. What does this mean for your team?

Each person on your sales team has their strengths. Competitions based on a single goal risk playing to some reps strengths more than others. Because The Checklist Challenge requires several sales skills, it gives everyone a fair shot at victory.  

10. Secret Superstar

Set a timeframe for this contest and decide on your performance goal. Then, leverage the element of surprise to boost your team members’ morale. You can do this in two ways: 

  1. Don’t tell your team you’re running a contest until it’s over and time to announce the winner. Yes, you read that right: Keep the contest secret. The unexpected recognition makes the winner feel fantastic. Plus, it encourages others to keep their productivity up, just in case.
  2. Tell your team there's a contest but keep quiet about the rules (to spot your most well-rounded top performers). This keeps them mentally engaged. It encourages them to push their limits since they don’t know how the contest will be judged. 

11. Conversion Machine

Got leads? Assign an equal number of unqualified leads to each team member. Don’t pick and choose who gets which one—assign them randomly to give everyone a fair shot. Then, see who converts the most leads within a certain period of time. 

12. Trade Show Takeover

If you do trade shows, there’s a simple way to make your next one more fun and productive. See who can outsell everyone else! The prospect of a reward ensures all team members put their best foot forward. 

13. Ideal Deals

This contest challenges team members to convert as many desirable, top-tier leads as possible. Put together a list of ideal customers, assign an equal number to each sales rep, and let the games begin. Whoever generates the most conversions by the end of the contest wins. 

14. Double Commission Day

This sales competition may be only one day long, but it’s a powerhouse. It gives reps the chance to earn two times their usual commission for closed deals that day. It’s a great way to motivate your sales team and boost sales quickly.  

15. Short Day Scramble

Set one or more sales targets you’d like your representatives to reach within a week. Reward anyone who hits the goal(s) (or the entire team) with a half-day on Friday. The prospect of a long weekend is a great motivator.

16. See You Later 

Rather than offering a short day as a prize, offer a late start. As with the Short Day Scramble, reward either a single, outstanding team member or the whole team. 

17. Upsell Level Up 

Contests don’t have to be limited to sales. They can also light a fire under your reps to hone their upselling skills. Who can upsell the most customers by the end of the contest? Who can upsell an individual customer the most? Offer rewards for one or both.  

18. Stuck on Repeat

Customer retention is more than a nice-to-have for most businesses—it’s essential. In such cases, it’s worth running a contest to see who generates the most repeat business within a certain period. It might be easier to sell to past customers, and some research suggests they spend more!

19. Referred By

In a 2022 study, respondents ranked referrals as the fourth biggest value driver for businesses (as far as customer activities go). References were the second biggest. 

In other words, the more customers who recommend your business, the better. Why not see who books the most referral meetings in a month? Or who closes the most deals from referral meetings within that time?

20. Review Rack Up

Customer reviews are valuable sales assets, so encouraging customers to leave them is smart. Set a time period and see who gets the most customers to leave reviews. Not only will this get you some fresh feedback to show off, but it also helps your team build the habit of asking for feedback. It’s a win-win!

21. Objection-Rejection Bingo

You know better than anyone that the sales process isn’t all seamless all the time. Reps often encounter objections and outright rejections. But it doesn’t have to be such a bummer when they do.

Give each member an objection-rejection bingo board. Each time they hear a certain type of objection or flat-out “no,” they mark it on their board. Include potential conversation-stoppers like: 

  • “I’m not interested.” 
  • “It’s too expensive.”
  • “We’re currently working with [competitor].”
  • “[Problem] isn’t a priority for us right now.”
  • “I don’t like [product or service category] because of a bad past experience.” 
  • “I’ll need to check with my boss/team first and get back to you.” 

Whoever gets bingo first wins. This is a great way to reward effort instead of only incentivizing and rewarding wins. It enables reps to feel positive about their work despite not making a sale every time. 

22. Coax the Customer 

Objections involving competitors can be roadblocks in the sales process—or not. Why not see who can “steal” the most business from competitors within a specific time period? This contest is a great opportunity to make money and push reps to hone their sales skills. 

23. Rise to the Top

In this contest, sales representatives compete 1:1 to reach a specific weekly target. Whoever performs better advances to the next bracket to compete against another rep. To keep things interesting, change the target every week. This encourages your team members to use and sharpen different skills.  

24. Me vs. the Manager

Want to push each team member to expand their sales skills and perform at their best? Pit them against an experienced team manager for a day.

Decide on a single activity to judge, like qualifying leads or scheduling demos. Then, see if anyone beats the number of completions of the manager. If anyone does, the whole team gets a prize. 

25. Better Together

Not all sales competitions must be limited to solo participation. If you have an even number of reps, split them into two or more teams. Some team leads take inspiration from fantasy football, creating evenly matched teams based on title, experience, responsibilities, and so on.

Alternatively, create pairs. This is great if you’d like newer reps to learn from your more experienced sales pros.

No matter what kind of teams you create, you essentially get triple the benefits of a normal sales contest. Yes, reps get an individual motivation and productivity boost. But they also feed off of the excitement of their teammates and learn from each others’ skills and experience. All of this means better sales results for you.

26. Most Valuable Salesperson 

Personal excellence is one thing. But the most valuable members of a team are the ones that push others to reach their goals and overcome challenges. Each quarter, acknowledge the person who not only smashed their targets but also supported other members of your team. 

27. Choose Your Challenge

Instead of giving everyone the same goal, let reps pick their poison. Whoever meets all their targets first wins. Just remember that to make it fair, you’ll need some rules. These can include the number of goals a team member must set to participate or what aspect of sales the goals must relate to (e.g. two goals that drive revenue).

28. Choose Your Reward

Set a target, any target. It could be the most demos booked, most sales, most upsells, etc. Whichever team member wins, let them choose from a pre-set list of rewards they can request from the sales manager. Include things like half days, time off, or mentorship sessions. 

Do sales contests work? What are their benefits?

Don’t think for a second that disengaged employees have a neutral or minimal impact on your business. They cost you money (in the form of lost sales or turnover) and can cause other team members to feel less motivated. 

Anything positive that keeps your team engaged—including running contests—is a good idea. Expect to see at least four benefits from doing so. 

  • Higher team morale. Achievement and recognition lift team members’ spirits and encourage them to perform at their best. And the same goes for teamwork if your contests encourage it. 
  • More motivation. Whether they’re looking forward to a financial incentive, a round of applause from the team, or another reward, sales gamification kicks reps into high gear. 
  • Faster growth. As a result of more intense, intentional practice, you’ll see team members’ skills improve rapidly. This is especially true with team competitions or those that allow reps to learn from one another. 
  • More sales. More motivated, more conscientious, and more active employees naturally produce better results. 

Our top tips for planning sales contests

To enjoy the benefits above, there are some things to keep in mind. 

1. Be intentional. While they should be fun, sales games and competitions aren’t just for fun. They have a purpose. “Sales leaders should have a clear goal in mind when deciding to run a contest,” says Krittin Kalra of Writecream. This includes “what they want to achieve, how they plan to measure success, and what they want to learn from the contest”. 

Krittin also notes that “the goal of the contest should be to improve the sales team's skillset, not just the team's productivity”. When possible, Krittin recommends basing the contest on activities beyond the day-to-day work of the sales team. 

2. Choose rewards carefully. Not just any reward for great performance will do. Think about what types of sales incentives would be most exciting to your team. Or, better yet, use a solution like Arcade that allows reps to choose their own rewards. 

3. Run (different) contests often. You’d hate for the motivation boost of a contest to wear off, causing productivity and sales to dip. Make contests a regular thing. And vary the types of competitions so all team members have something to get excited about. 

4. Use a sales gamification tool to keep track of team member performance during your contests. These tools give all team members visibility into quotas, targets, goals, and progress. That visibility keeps contests top of mind and team members engaged.

What not to do when running sales contests

Now that you know what to do, let’s talk about a few common pitfalls to steer clear of.

1. Don’t be unfair, even unintentionally. No contest should put some people at a huge advantage and others at a disadvantage. This hurts morale and motivation and potentially stirs up trouble between team members. Give everyone a fair chance to qualify for the prize.

2. Don’t take competition too far. Whether you choose 1:1 or team vs. team challenges, encourage friendly, healthy competition. Your contests shouldn’t start an all-out war among team members. Remind everyone that the goal is to improve collectively and have some fun. 

3. Don’t let ongoing contests be forgotten. The more team members who participate (from start to finish), the bigger the benefits you’ll enjoy. Invite reps to share their wins during your daily meetings. Do a weekly review of the leaderboard to motivate everyone to up their game next week. Make your contest a topic of conversation both before it starts and while it’s in progress. 

Why Arcade is among the best tools for sales contests

Working out the logistics of contests can be a handful, especially if you have a large team. Arcade lightens the load, allowing you to launch solo, multiplayer, and team contests in minutes

No matter the behavior, sales metric, or KPI you want to influence, Arcade: 

  • Helps you and your team track sales performance and keeps tabs on the leaderboard
  • Keeps everyone motivated to participate, encouraging camaraderie and healthy competition
  • Makes delivering the rewards your reps want seamless

Plus, Arcade offers an unlimited free forever plan. It has everything you need to run successful races, marathons, tournaments, or other contests.

Want to see how simple Arcade is to use? Request a demo, and we’ll show you!

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