Top 10 FAQs For Sales Contest Themes

Ideas for “sales contest themes” is one of the most requested topics from visitors of the Sales Operations Blog.

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Mark Repkin

Mark Repkin

Earlier this year, I partnered with Mark Repkin, an incentive and recognition industry leader, and senior executive at The Certif-A-Gift Company, to create the eBook, Sales ContestOlogy, 7 Step Guide to Sales Contests. This month, I had the opportunity to get Mark’s input on the top ten, most frequently asked questions regarding sales contest themes.  Mark… please share your insight with our blog readers!

1) What is the purpose of a sales contest theme?

The central purpose of a theme is to create a consistency in your marketing efforts.  Images, graphics, and promotional items are ideally coordinated back to the theme.  This really makes the difference in making your contest appear professional and important to your sales team.  After all, you spend all sorts of time and energy on your external marketing, your sales team deserves to have a campaign with the same well thought out effort.

2) What is the difference between a sales contest theme and sales contest name?

A “theme” is an overriding category.  A “name” is distinctly what the contest is called or how it’s referenced.

3) Why is it important to create a contest name/theme?

The single most important reason for creating a name and theme for your contest is that your sales team needs to call it something.  If they can refer to your contest by a name, they are more likely to remember it and keep it top of mind.

4) Is there a way for coming up with a program name that is motivational?

An effective motivational name comes from clarity, not cleverness. In other words, your contest name should be associated with your program goal. It should tell the salesperson what you want them to do or what they get for doing it. For example, if your theme is Hollywood, and your sales goal is to win-back past accounts, then you might name your program “Lights, Camera, Win-Back.”

5) What’s the biggest “don’t do” when coming up with a contest name?

Don’t go for cutesy! Pick a name and theme that will resonate with your sales team. Gather some feedback and make sure your name is meaningful, not cute.  Cute may work is some sales environments like call centers, but even there, cuteness can lead to sarcasm.

6) How can I tell if I picked a good name/theme?

The real test is if your salespeople begin to reference the contest by name. In order for that to happen, remember the sales team must personally associate with it and ideally it should be short and easy to remember.

7) Is it important to make the theme fun?

Fun is great… if “fun” means: entertaining, cool, and exciting!  The theme itself doesn’t necessarily make the contest fun, but it certainly serves as a building block for linking all communications together.

_8) Should seasonality come into consideration when creating a contest name/theme?

Yes, if possible.  Since your sales contest is likely to be short term (a few days to a couple of months) seasonality works in your favor.  This works particularly well if your product or service goal is related to a promotable selling season.  However, don’t sacrifice a short and memorable name just to include a tie into the season.  Also, as oblivious as this seems, I see this mistake made …don’t use a baseball theme in the middle of winter, it doesn’t compute!

9) Should the contest timeframe be incorporated into the program name?

It’s not a bad idea to add the time period to the contest name.  It helps sales people connect to relevance and urgency.  The best way to tie-in the contest period is with a sub-name or tag line.

10) What’s a sub-name or tag line?

Most books have a title followed by a sub-title. The sub-title serves as a short description of the book.  This works well for naming sales contests, too.  For example, consider this contest sub-name:

  • Theme: Baseball
  • Contest Timing: Start of MLB season
  • Name: Big League Sales
  • Sub-Name: Spring into April with Rewards for New Accounts

Bonus: Checklist for Sales Contest Themes

Here is Mark’s checklist for developing a Sales Contest Name and Theme:

  • What do I want my salespeople to accomplish in the program?
  • What period of time do I want them to accomplish this goal? (Can the season be tied-in?)
  • Can the goal be turned into a contest name?
  • Can the time period be turned into a tag line?
  • What is the general theme I want (Sports, Games, Entertainment)?
  • Can I create a catchy name from the theme?
  • Have I used the name in the past?
  • Is the name corny-good or corny-bad (Laugh with it, not at it)?
  • Will the name resonate with my team?
  • Is the name fun (entertaining, cool, and exciting)?
  • Is the name memorable?
  • Is the name company specific (for channel programs)?
  • Can I easily find images/graphics that compliment the name?
  • Get feedback before you go to print (so to speak)!

For more information and ideas about sales contest themes, email Mark at . If you want to learn more about contest design, download the free eBook Sales ContestOlogy, 7 Step Guide to Sales Contest at

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3 comments on “Top 10 FAQs For Sales Contest Themes

  1. Pingback: Sales Spiffs & Contests.. NOT a lever to drive significant and “true” lifts in sales productivity «

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