Themes Like Old Times

By Malcolm Fleschner

It’s always a terrific idea to tie a sales-incentive contest together with a punchy, motivational theme. But as Mark Sullivan, VP of Sales for incentive-solutions provider Sales Driver points out, there are good ways to theme a contest, and there are great ways to theme a contest.

When looking for a theme, Sullivan suggests managers consider both the target audience – the salespeople themselves – as well as the overall corporate picture.

“Think about who you’re going after before you develop a theme,” he says. “If it’s an internal sales team, we might suggest you focus around an initiative that you already have going on internally. So if the theme of the company is ‘Race For Success,’ then obviously we would pick up on that racing theme and advise that you run the incentive award around that. But if the sales-manager’s team’s program is based on ‘attacking the competition,’ then we would focus on finding a theme that maps to that.”

For managers who are less interested in developing a theme from scratch and cutting out all the construction-paper race cars or palm trees themselves, Sales Driver numbers among a variety of online providers offering customizable, off-the-rack themed programs that users can choose from and get started quickly with a contest. Besides the racing theme, other options include golf, marketing warfare, the beach, fishing and flags of the world.

Whatever theme you go with, Sullivan advises making that theme central to every communication piece you send out to participants.

“We make sure the theme is part of the program announcement, as well as every message that goes out,” he says. “That way, when participants see the logo they know that this is part of the incentive program. So, for example, each time we electronically update a scoreboard online we might send out an email message with a race-car icon in the upper corner. This attracts people to the message and motivates them to read your communications.”

But as with most business issues, the bottom-line benefit to theming a contest with an experienced incentive-solutions provider is – the bottom line.

“It’s cost effective,” Sullivan says, “not only because you don’t have to spend money to construct an entire new theme yourself, but also because your time is freed up to focus on driving sales results, not on themes or building incentive programs.”Visit