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The right way to run sales contests.

When a telesales group begins to show signs of burnout, says Dave Worman, the solution is simple: start a sales contest. Worman, a veteran telemarketing manager who recently published a collection of 79 successfully-tested contests, insists that contests are an essential motivational tool for telephone sales reps (TSRs). "When I ran contests, I found my people were more energized, they sold more, and ultimately, they stuck around longer."

Of course, Worman adds, some sales contests are a lot more motivating than others. (A badly designed contest can even depress sales, he warns.) The best contests usually include the following ingredients:

* Brevity: "The longer a contest lasts, the harder it is to maintain the stimulation attached to it," Worman says. An occasional long contest--up to six months in duration--will add a sense of variety, but the ideal event is short and punchy. "The key to making a long-term contest successful," he adds, "is to implement a collection of shorter contests within the long one."

* Management involvement: "when you absolutely do not have time to be involved in a sales contest, don't run one. Managers must make the time to be truly involved--answering questions, handing out awards and prizes, adjusting rules when necessary, and most of all, recognizing your people in person."

* Realistic goals: "You don't run a contest hoping no one will win," Worman points out. "When TSRS mentally label performance goals as unreachable, that perception will spread like a contagious disease through your telephone environment."

* Multiple winners: One of his own contests fizzled, Worman recalls, because the prize was supposed to go to the first person who reached the sales goal. "Everything started out fine until word spread that one individual was near her goal--just one and a half hours into the shift. This news quickly sucked the energy and excitement out of everyone else." A better approach, Worman now suggests, is to reward everyone who meets the contest goals, and also to offer prizes for teams that perform exceptionally well.

* Visible recognition: A good contest "feeds the appetite we all have to achieve and be recognized in front of our peers," says Worman. Besides tangible prizes, a contest should give high performers a chance to show off during a brief office ceremony. (For example: contest winners get a free throw at a basketball hoop.)

* Employee input: "Think for a moment how you would feel--your contest idea was chosen by management," says Worman. "Everyone else knows it's your idea and you get to announce the objective and rules to everyone else." In fact, he adds, "Not only do I accept ideas from my staff, I have run contests to receive contest ideas."

* Props, gags, and gimmicks: "In 1986 I decided to run a contest at Halloween but hadn't put much thought into preparation. There were few--if any--Halloween decorations throughout the office. The contest produced fair results at best. And the thing I noticed most was the lack of enthusiasm and excitement in the air. The following year I ran a similar contest on Halloween, but prepared for it with appropriate decorations, employee costume-related prizes and other Halloween paraphernalia. There was so much more excitement in the air--and by the way, production numbers were up 25% over the previous Halloween."

David L. Worman, Motivating With Sales Contests, Business By Phone Inc., 5301S. 144th St., Omaha, Neb. 68137; 402/895-9399; paperback, $29.00.
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Title Annotation:advice from David L. Worman of Business By Phone Inc
Date:Jun 28, 1994
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