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To truly motivate and create a positive attitude, sales contests must be based on the current performance level of every team member and reward for improved performance.  


Rewarding sales teams with money has long been a motivational tactic used by employers. Whether it’s high salaries, large commissions, incredible bonuses, or other financial rewards, the prospect of riches has long been thought to incentivize sales teams to bring in bigger deals more frequently. Often, this “tried and true” approach only rewards high performers, not those whose performance improves.

What drives salespeople to perform? While money is one motivator, it’s not the only thing. In fact, most high-performing salespeople achieve their best results because they are motivated by accomplishment and recognition first, and money second.

To truly motivate and create a positive attitude, sales contests must be based on the current performance level of every team member and reward for improved performance.  Let’s take two salespeople, Joe and Bill.  In one month, Joe sold 20 TVs after talking to 150 prospects and Bill sold 8 TVs after working with 40 prospects.  Most would agree that Joe performed better because he sold more units.  In reality, Joe missed sales opportunities with 130 prospects and achieved a closing rate of approximately 13% while Bill only missed opportunities with 32 prospects and realized a 20% closing rate.  Who actually did a better job?

When units sold is put in the context of traffic count, management gains an accurate measure of performance.  Using these parameters, management can structure sales contests to reward an increase in performance or improved close ratio.  Not only does this reward the true performers, it motivates the entire team by creating a fair playing field.  As an added benefit, most businesses will see a rebirth of prospecting among salespeople.  They soon realize that to win, they must work their prospect file box, make calls, and bring in their own prospects, requested ups, and referrals, rather than waiting on the floor for walk-in traffic. 

No matter what line of work your business is in, a dedicated professional and productive sales force is a big asset.  Keeping that sales force motivated might be easy when times are good and sales are flowing freely, but when your business hits a rough patch it can be much harder. Implementing an approach that starts with a level playing field based on traffic counts, that is available to all employees, and that truly recognizes improved performance, can result in improvements across the board, not just in top salespeople.  After all, think of the overall impact on your business if every salesperson improved their sales numbers, even if it’s just by 5 to 10%.

About the author

Richard F. Libin

Richard F. Libin

Richard F. Libin has written two acclaimed books that help people of all walks…

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