Incentives Fun-Damentals

By Malcolm Fleschner

A sales incentive contest is a great tool for achieving a variety of laudable goals: driving corporate strategy, increasing market share, upselling within existing accounts, moving stockpiled inventory – the list goes on. But to paraphrase Cindy Lauper, sometimes salespeople just want to have fun. If that’s the case with your team, incentives also are a great vehicle for improving team morale. As New England-based sales and management trainer Irwin Pollack ( notes, a sales office where an atmosphere of fun prevails tends to sell effectively too. So how do you use incentives to put a little more glee in your team’s efforts? Pollack offers the following five ideas.

1. Surprise, surprise!
Deliver unexpected rewards. The next time your salespeople hit a goal, set a sales record or otherwise come through, surprise them with time off, a formal dinner on the company, a day trip somewhere or some other rewarding bolt from the blue. Just as capricious criticism undermines morale, unexpected rewards bolster attitudes and lead to a more motivating selling environment.

2. Dip into the pot
Run an incentive where team members who reach specified targets or hit a certain level can draw money or prizes from a pot. Fill the pot with various denominations of cash or gift certificates reflecting a range of values. Make it a collective exercise by letting participants pull out their prizes in front of their colleagues.

3. Grand prize lottery
Award one big grand prize to the rep whose name is pulled from a hat at the contest’s conclusion. Let participants place their name in the hat each time they achieve a certain specified goal. The more goals they reach, the greater their chances of winning the grand prize. To minimize disappointment among the others, remember to provide smaller prizes to everyone who qualifies.

4. Bingo is it’s name-o
Distribute Bingo cards to your team members, with each square representing the accomplishment of a desired activity. The first participant to achieve Bingo – standing up and yelling is optional – wins the grand prize.

5. Divide and conquer
Separate your sales staff into two equal groups and set a goal for both groups. The winning group’s prize is that the losers have to perform some menial task for a week, such as washing the winners’ cars, preparing them meals or bowing down in reverence every time they walk past.