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4 min read

Have You Hosted Any Sales Competitions Lately?

Goalplan sales competition

‘The Carrot is Mightier Than a Stick?’ – Making leaders think twice about motivational strategies and resources.


Hopefully, last week’s blogpost ‘dangled a carrot’ about our next instalment of ‘success’ inspiration. The term can be interpreted in a multitude of ways, but one thing’s for certain, we all need a little extra motivation and mystery every now and again. Dangling a carrot, leaving you on a cliff-hanger or having you on the edge of your seat, are all synonymous of eager or anxious anticipation – after all, who couldn’t use a pinch of excitement to spice up everyday monotony? 


The transparency or implicit message in some of Coach John Wooden’s 12 Lessons in Leadership (see previous blogs) all lend themselves to one common theory: Call Yourself a Teacher.’ In any position of leadership or guidance, be that in business, parental, educational or otherwise, those in charge react in different ways to the burden (or privilege – depending on mindset) of authority. Two opposing examples of the spectrum are those enjoying a power trip at one end, and those painfully uncomfortable with the spotlight at the other.


‘What are you teaching your team?’



When power goes to one’s head, then productivity may not follow suit. Knowing your product, service and staff inside out, makes you wiser than your managerial title. Being humble, learning from mistakes and accepting help and suggestions from other branches of your company, strengthens even the most ‘vertical’ of business models. 


On the flipside of this, some leaders experience high stress levels and don’t necessarily enjoy being in charge – however, teaching those under your influence to be a chameleon and rise to challenges, enjoy the competitive ride and show versatility at work, may be a lesson powerful enough to encourage change and efficiency. 


‘How can I turn overwhelming challenges into memorable lessons?’



Goalplan’s CEO, Markus Täkte, recently posted about the importance of adapting when necessary and striving to remain upbeat, even in the face of challenging times. He also said: ‘Sometimes you come home recklessly, after another day acting as CEO, a salesperson, CFO, HR Director, an administrator, marketer and product visionary in a single day, without really knowing if you have done anything good.’


Any good teacher or leader repeatedly asks themselves this question: ‘Have I done anything good?’ The answer is: MORE THAN YOU KNOW! By showing staff that both heart and head drive your ambition and that you’re not adverse to spreading your wings and supporting other areas of the organisation, effectively translates to always putting the whole company first. 


Improving results and prioritising the achievement of stretched goals is a collective effort – leaders must teach and project a positive frame of mind, whilst always reviewing their own performance, as per Markus’ mindful comment above. 


‘Should I offer a carrot rather than rule with a stick?’



The idea that managers, CEO’s, directors and so on are human, approachable and personable, doesn’t render them inadequate or ineffective leaders. In reality, John Wooden taught us the value of positive leadership and gaining the respect of your team through encouragement and incentives, rather than invoking fear and low self-esteem. Our ‘carrot’ is, therefore, finally unveiled as the spirit of competition, whereas the ‘stick’ symbolises punishment for failure, rather than providing opportunities to rectify issues to learn and grow. 


Loyal and motivated employees are born from the solid foundations on which potential success is built. In order to climb individualised Pyramids of Success, they should be exposed to constructive criticism and credit where due. They also don’t learn from empty praise or unattainable, unrealistic goals (see previous blogs on S.M.A.R.T. goals). 


‘How could sales competitions boost my team to aim higher, in addition to their usual targets?’



Next-generation platforms allow leaders to finetune specific KPI’s and real-time fulfilment data in order to enhance the overall functionality of performance management. Imperative to sales organisations and other fields, such a toolbox of interactive features allows management to stay one step ahead of competitors and bring the competition to their own territory instead. This way, employees are driven to do their best, smash targets and take their team to the next level.


Done in the right way, sales competitions can actually nurture determination and inspire, as opposed to threatening consequences with the aforementioned reference to a ‘stick’ – albeit metaphorically, whipping a team into shape shouldn’t evolve from fear, but moreover from pride and respect for the overall enterprise. 


State-of-the-art apps facilitate the implementation of sales competitions, making their execution and tracking simple and effective. They even offer E-learning and better communication outlets to connect leaders and staff – a no-brainer, particularly for large, complex sales organisations who want to reach the finish line first… EVERY TIME!


Summary – Healthy Competition for the Win!

Everyone benefits from measuring personal progress against their own potential, hence the need for intelligent goal-setting strategies. Leaders have an influential role in their achievability and compatibility with company incentives, along with portraying an advantageous balance of authority and understanding.


Using intelligent software to host motivating sales competitions may be just the ticket to boost morale and encourage staff to go one step further – blasting through their own KPI’s and ultimately adding unrivalled value to the company. Compiled data to establish the most effective individuals shouldn’t be used to expose failure, but rather to foster incentive to be amongst the top performers next time. 


Naturally, moments arise which render certain individuals inadequate for a particular role, but a creative leader will try a pathway of constructive criticism before getting out the stick! Additionally, as we saw earlier, the ability to help where needed is a healthy trait - transitioning to other roles is often a productive way to spread and share company knowledge. Therefore, the lowest ranked in a certain competition, may just be ready for a change of perspective… maybe they’ll be at the top of the pyramid elsewhere in the company. 


Wooden said: ‘Don’t look at the scoreboard’ – so don’t forget to enjoy the race… winning is an added bonus! Consider what’s in it for your employees and keep the race inhouse with competitors in the rearview mirror. 


Join us next time for inspiration on sales competitions and how to dangle the carrot!

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