How to Win a Sales Contest
by: Dr. Tony Alessandra
Every sales contest shares identifiable phases. It starts with a bang, slows down in the middle, and winds up with a big push. Winning a contest is easier when you understand what to emphasize in each phase.
There's no question that sales contests motivate--but they have a dark side as well. All too often, a sales professional puts so much energy into the contest that he or she burns out and suffers a big sales slump when the contest ends. Many find that they are most productive during the annual contest, but fairly unproductive the rest of the year.
True professionals know how to maximize the contest and beat their own previous performance. They also know how to use a contest to crank themselves up to a higher level of sales achievement overall. To emulate them, check to see when your company's next sales contest is scheduled. If none is planned, hold your own sales contest during a period when you are usually a little less productive. Identify a time period and challenge yourself to pull out all the stops and see just how good you can be. Use these phases to plan your activities for each part of the contest.
- Prepare. Before the contest begins, inventory the skills, knowledge, tools, and information you will need to be at your absolute best for the entire contest, and then gather it.
- Build an inventory of qualified prospects. People who lose sales contests typically do most of their prospecting in the early part of the contest. Those who win do it beforehand. Identify all of the prospecting methods you can use to build an inventory of qualified prospects before the sales contest begins. Spend several weeks identifying potential buyers, contacting those buyers to determine whether they're qualified, and preparing them to receive a sales call during the contest period. Often, prospecting alone is enough to generate new sales that wouldn't otherwise come about.
- Clear your calendar. Take a look at the obligations that are occupying your time. Which activities directly contribute to future sales? Which activities could be delegated or postponed to a later time? By eliminating these inhibitors, you can free yourself to focus only on selling.
- Focus on the kickoff. Start the contest with a sales blitz by making lots of calls in a short time. Free your entire schedule so that the only thing you do in the opening days or week of the sales contest is think, talk, walk, and breathe selling. When you plan your schedule, fill the entire day with quality sales contacts. When you get up in the morning, meet a prospect for breakfast. When you work out, do it someplace where you can contact a prospect. Have lunch with prospects. Spend the afternoon with prospects. Have an early dinner with prospects, and then relax that evening and regroup for the next day. Gain agreement from your family to focus all your energy on selling during a contest's first week. Get them involved in the process. Urge them to contribute ideas, identify more prospects, and help you prepare for the next day's selling.
- Avoid the mid-contest slump. During a long contest, there's a point where the initial energy wears off, things grow less exciting, and a sales slump looms. Careful! Prevent a mid-contest slump by planning enough activity into each day to ensure a constant flow of new contacts, follow-up calls, and other activities.
- Make the final push. At the end, concentrate on writing up business. As you did in the opening days of the contest, free your time to focus on selling. Find helpers who can do the detail work and follow-up for you so that you can spend your time helping customers make the buying decision.
- Seek satisfaction through delivery and follow-up. As you celebrate and rest, be sure to follow through on each purchase. You want everyone who bought during the contest to be happy about his or her purchase and satisfied with its value.
- Evaluate. When it's all over, evaluate your performance. What worked, and what didn't? Use the lessons you learned about yourself to sustain a higher level of selling year round. Change some of your regular habits and routines to keep yourself at a higher level of sales productivity. That's how true professionals grow, and that's why they beat their previous performance in every sales contest.
Dr. Tony Alessandra is president of AssessmentBusinessCenter.com and a founding partner of The Cyrano Group and Platinum Rule Group – companies that successfully combine cutting-edge technology and proven psychology to give salespeople the ability to build and maintain positive relationships with hundreds of clients and prospects. He is the author of numerous sales books including Non-Manipulative Selling and Collaborative Selling, which focuses on creating long-term customers rather than one-shot sales and moving from a transaction mentality to building relationships.