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The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

May 12, 2008 • Issue 08:05:01

Inspiration

Face off to boost sales

Like it or not, reality TV is a staple in many households. At just about any hour of the day, one can flip through channels and find at least one show that involves people competing for something (usually money), and most of the time, it's not a pretty sight. But we can take a valuable lesson from this type of entertainment.

Consider reality shows that involve teamwork. Friends and strangers are coming together to motivate one another, win prizes and meet their goals (lose weight, build a house, make money and so forth).

Is your office up for a little friendly sales competition? Here are some tips to help you develop a contest that brings out the best in all participants.

Create a goal

The most important part of planning a competition is deciding the objective. As a group, players will need to determine the goal of the game and then use a measurement that accurately records progress related to it.

Make frequent tallies of accounts sold or transaction volumes to keep tabs on the reigning contest leaders. Use a measurement (dollars, whole numbers or percentages) that works for all groups involved. This is also the time to determine the competition's duration.

Pick teams

A major benefit of competing in groups is team members motivate one another. Participants will be striving to reach individual sales benchmarks, as well as the ultimate prize, but they will also be part of a group working to reach combined goals.

Showcase trophies

Offer prizes and incentives throughout the competition, as well as at the end. Before the contest begins, query participants, and see what types of gifts they would like and what prizes will motivate them the most. You want to make sure the incentive has significant value to those you are trying to encourage.

During the game, most participants will find their drive and dedication waning. Prizes such as cash bonuses, vacation days and gift cards along the way will encourage them to cross the finish line.

Even when people are competing in teams, there should be an individual grand prize winner in the end (think of it as a most valuable player award). Announce before the contest starts what the grand prize is, and make sure it is something each player actually wants, so it will serve as a motivational tool. Any expense you incur on the grand prize will be minor compared to the increased sales and revenue you will enjoy.

Get support

Each team needs to find a coach who will be an inspirational leader. This could be someone in management. Coaches can help team members devise realistic plans, identify their goals and list steps to reach those goals. If coaches notice their team struggling to maintain progress, they can make adjustments to the game strategy to get everyone back on track.

Bring it on

Before the competition begins, spread the word. Tell everyone and anyone who will listen. Send out press releases or announce it at the next industry tradeshow to generate excitement and support for the event.

Part of the reason these competitions work is that participants are not just accountable to their teams, they are also accountable to everyone who knows about the event. Post signs around the office indicating who is participating, what the prizes are, the competition dates, and when and how progress will be communicated.

Schedule practice

Ideally, all team members should attend an industry event together, such as a regional acquirers association meeting or an education seminar. If this would stretch your company's budget a little too far, scour local listings for an appropriate free or low-cost event.

Check out local organizations, community centers, local universities and community colleges. Such entities sponsor a wealth of events and seminars covering such topics as time management, stress relief, tax help or guest speakers. These conferences are likely to have tips and tricks that can benefit anyone, regardless of the industry.

Check progress

Establish a predetermined time and day of the week to go over individual records and overall progress. Tally results and post team totals in a location where the entire company can view them. This way everyone can congratulate those who are doing well and motivate those who may need a little push or extra assistance.

It is important to reward headway and dedication to boost team morale. Prizes can be motivating, but so can something as quick and simple as an e-mail to the company about the leader's progress. If a poster board with gold star stickers inspires staff, do that. Now that you've got the guidelines, there's only one thing left to do: Players, on your marks, get set, go. end of article

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