Employee Incentive Strategy

29 Nov 2021

3 Ways to Harness the Benefits of Employee Sales Contests

Author: Amy Suto

3 Ways to Harness the Benefits of Employee Sales Contests

Your disengaged retail associates are costing you more than you think.

In a 2020 Gallup study on employee engagement, the numbers are clear: companies with the highest employee engagement saw 28% less theft, 81% lower absenteeism, and 23% higher profitability.

Employee competitions and incentive programs are a great way to boost employee engagement, increase camaraderie amongst employees, and create a sense of team spirit. No longer should you have to run feverishly around your sales floor pointing and yelling, “and you get a car! And you get a car!” to motivate your staff to sell more. Everyone wants to do their best work: incentive programs are just about gamifying the way the retail ecosystem already works. So… are you ready, player one?

In this post, we’ll clarify three reasons why a great incentive program combined with thoughtful management strategies can bolster your bottom line.


1. Get Positive, Get Profit

The common “retail problems” you run into aren’t actually retail problems. They’re people problems. Telling someone to sell a pen to save their job isn’t an effective motivator. However, if you tell them to sell ten pens so that they can get a cash bonus for their strong performance, you’re setting the stage for them to rise to the occasion.

The Harvard Business Review conducted a study breaking down the pros and cons of running internal contests for employees, and found “focusing on losing a bonus made managers more anxious, whereas focusing on winning a bonus made managers more excited.”

A sales goal to sell twenty units of a new item will be positively reinforced by the potential of a reward (a $200 Visa gift card) and negatively impacted by a thinly-veiled threat (the loss of a year-end bonus, or even worse, being “written up”.)

It’s about the carrot, not the stick.

This also makes sense in the context of how modern workers are burned out by environments that too continuously stoke the fire of dog-eat-dog competition. Not to mention, post-pandemic employee burnout is a big concern.

So, when you’re thinking up a contest prize that will make employees jump for joy, eager to hit sales goals or achieve the next threshold of a key performance indicator, don’t be negative.

Your sales incentive program should be that: an incentive for your staff should inspire them to go to infinity and beyond, not fear a demotion.

2. Give Your Salespeople Superpowers

Your top salespeople are already intrinsically motivated to help customers and move product. There’s a reason they’re on your sales floor slinging deals and smiling while knocking it out of the park. An incentive program helps them feel seen for their top-performing habits, and shows fellow staff how great work gets rewarded.

You can also use incentive programs to sharpen the skills of these top performers who might be bored by their ability to crush company-wide KPI’s. An added dose of competition-fueled adrenaline will help them reach higher on the proverbial scoreboard.

Enter: gamification.

Every game has a hero, and by making your salespeople the hero of a game with parameters suited to their skills, they’re more likely to go above and beyond in their performance for you and your company in this Game of Retail.

The Harvard Business Review Study we mentioned earlier surveyed over 204 employees in relation to their opinion on more creative management motivation strategies, and “the results showed that when the employment policies elicited excitement, employees were significantly more likely to use creativity.”

By using an employee incentive program, you can help your top sales associates tap into a sense of creativity that will improve their performance.

This is particularly effective because you’re combining their intrinsic motivator — someone’s innate desire to do something — with an extrinsic motivator — a cash prize or other reward — to maximize effort and creative performance.

Someone get the capes, your team of sales-floor superheroes are here to save the day.

3. All We Do is Win-Win-Win

The employer/employee relationship can be a delicate one. Employers and capital holders are faced with the challenge of running a profitable business and weathering the ups and downs of the corporate life cycle. Employees simply want their fair shake: a wage that speaks to their performance, and acknowledgement of how they add value to the company.

Employee incentive programs hit the harmony of helping all parties. A great contest prize for employees makes them feel seen and appreciated. A great KPI for your incentive program is one that elevates your bottom line. And to top it all off, with SparkPlug’s vendor-sponsored incentive tools, your partner brands win by seeing their products fly off your shelves.

Now that’s a win-win-win if we’ve ever seen one.

If you’re ready to spark your sales to the next level, we can help with that. Get started with SparkPlug today and create your first employee incentive program to see how engaged employees can transform your sales floor