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How to start a sales competition and fire up your team

Every manager yearns for the perfect sales team full of highly motivated achievers with proactive collaboration and an unbreakable team spirit.

But how do you make it happen?

What makes a fun, effective, high-converting sales team?

In 2015, Harvard Business Review published research into what the best performing sales teams had in common.

The study unearthed two interesting findings:

  • The best sales teams tended to hold their team members to higher levels of accountability
  • The managers of these high-performing teams often weren’t afraid to raise quotas

Sales teams thrive in a fast-paced environment with high expectations

Friendly competition can be the fuel driving high-performance sales teams to continually reach a new level.

“The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting above average effort.” - Colin Powell, Former Four-Star General of the US Army

Competition between salespeople works.

Fostering this within your team will have a positive impact on motivation, effort, morale, and your bottom line.

We want to offer some practical advice to help you make it happen.

How to Create Healthy Sales Team Competition

You might have some general ideas that could help, but we want to give you specific advice.

One tactic you can confidently implement:


Gamification in sales is all about applying the engaging elements of games to a business setting.

The defined boundaries and rules of your gamification system should make things clear and easy to understand. The nature of a ‘game’ helps you take the animosity out of the competitive fire you are trying to spark.

There are a few simple ways to go gamify your sales department.

How you choose to employ this motivational tool depends on what you feel would best suit the unique dynamic of your business culture and your sales team.

We want to outline two specific gamification structures you can set up quickly with a limited amount of resources.

Create Sales Contests

This is a simple, but effective motivation tactic.

Foster competition by allowing team members to compete for rewards based on a given KPI.

Activity-based objectives work best. Focusing on targets of calls made or emails sent will encourage a consistent and effective use of your sales process. More activities completed at the right times will lead to better results. You want to reward this behavior.

Salespeople cannot control results. If you pressure your teams to compete on deals closed or leads qualified - you run the risk of encouraging reps to take shortcuts. A bunch of tiny deals closed with the wrong kind of customers could be exactly what you don’t need.

The rewards should demonstrate your appreciation for extra effort and quality. You want an incentive for competitors to strive for the title by using the consistent, scalable sales process you have set up for your team.

So many of the best sales contests are based on popular sporting events.

The Tour De France provides an ideal framework for a sales team. In this sales contest, you would have a winning salesperson each week who would be awarded the ‘yellow jersey’ (a dinner or hotel voucher) for their achievements.

The slate is wiped clean the following week, allowing another salesperson to win the race.

You could run these staged events a couple of times a year to drive competition in slower months of your annual sales cycle. 🚲

Tour de France Sales Cycle Game

An NCAA March Madness contest will suit most global teams.

If you’re a company with multiple locations, you could split each location into a bracket, with the salespeople or teams in each bracket competing against each other in miniature ‘knockout battles’.

As the sales contest progresses, eventually the salespeople from different locations will end up battling it out for the grand prize (and winning country bragging rights 🥇).

This also helps bring your sales teams together as the team from each location will get behind their finalist in the cross-border playoffs. To encourage team spirit, you can reward the whole sales team with an office prize if their finalist wins.

The possibilities are as endless as your creativity, but if a contest isn’t your style - there are many more ways to stoke your team’s competitive fire.

Create Sales Leaderboards

A sales leaderboard is a simple and easy way to introduce friendly competition into your sales department.

If you’re reading this and looking over at your whiteboard and thinking that you already have a leaderboard - you need to keep reading.

Good sales leaderboards are engaging, interactive, and display live sales data from your CRM automatically. Your standard office whiteboard isn’t gonna cut it.

Simple sales-specific dashboard software will level-up the competition and light up the fire in your team.

Prevent failure with your guide to handling tricky sales situations

Learn how to prevent and overcome failure for your sales team. This 18-page ebook will help you develop plans for hiring, firing, and managing a crisis.

4 Steps to Fire Up Friendly Competition in Your Team

Promoting a winning culture based on friendly competition by introducing sales contests and leaderboards is easier than think. In fact, we can boil it down to 4 easy steps.

Step 1: Identify the Problem that Needs to Be Solved

As with any new initiative you want to implement in your office, there should be an objective you can measure and track to gauge success.

  • Do you want to increase sales?
  • Boost engagement?
  • Improve team relations?

Importantly, you need to make sure any competition that you create will correlate with the goals of your Sales Director and your executive team. You don’t want a situation where your team can game the system. Trigger the type of performances that will drive sustainable growth for the business - not just a small monthly spike.

Step 2: Make a Plan

Next, you need to decide how you’re going to introduce friendly competition without putting quality standards at risk.

  • A sales contest?
  • A leaderboard?
  • Monthly challenges?
  • Team MVP voting?

Tailor the gamification method you choose to suit your objectives and the culture of your business.

Set a specific time period for your initiative and plan your response in case the reaction you receive is not what you had hoped for. Identify channels in which employees can give feedback and express concerns if they arise.

Step 3. Visualize Your Sales Data

Use a visualization tool to keep your whole team engaged in whatever competition you have arranged.

A whiteboard or poster might be enough to start.

But if you are serious about this tactic - you want to keep your team excited, engaged, and involved every day.

A sales dashboard displayed on a TV screen is always an effective way to show an interactive leaderboard or the real-time results of a sales contest.

If you’re choosing to go down the prize-giving route for a competition winner, then use something fun like a ‘wheel of fortune’ to inspire your reps to fight harder for the win in the next round.

Step 4. Start Fast and Improve With Each Competition

Now you’re ready to start lighting up that competitive spirit.

It’s important to bear in mind the keyword here.


Don’t allow your contests and other competition initiatives to cause tension in your team.

Team spirit should increase. You want sales team members to work to help each other reach their targets and win prizes - not fight against each other to steal leads and sabotage deals.

The Harvard Business Review warned about the negative consequences of competition.

The looming negative consequences of lagging behind can trigger anxiety and prompt people to resort to mis-selling, fraud, and lying to customers”.

Make it clear to your sales team that your competition is designed to be fun.

The moment you experience any negative feedback, you should re-evaluate and find an alternative to take the heat out of the situation.

Next step: Connect to Plecto on the Pipedrive Marketplace

Plecto makes it so easy to get your competition started.

You can try out a Plecto competition dashboard right now and see how to spark up your team’s sales efforts.

If you’re using Pipedrive, Plecto is the perfect fit for you.

The Pipedrive sales team love using Plecto as a motivation tool. We use the competition dashboard to visualize progress and encourage our reps to compete for better and better results.

Simply head over to Pipedrive Marketplace and hit the ‘Install now’ button.

It’s free to try - go ahead and kick off some healthy competition in your team now 🏆

Prevent Failure With Your Guide To Handling Tricky Sales Situations

Learn how to prevent and overcome failure for your sales team. This 18 page ebook will help you develop plans for hiring, firing, and managing a crisis.

Driving business growth