Motivating Retail Employees Through Sales Contests

It can often be a challenge to keep retail employees motivated. Between slow days, snow days, and Sundays, working retail can sometimes leave much to be desired. Independent retail owners can often lose their momentum from days like this, not to mention their associates can definitely lose that “go get them” sales attitude. To help motivate your store employees, consider setting sales goals with incentives.

If you don’t already, you should set sales goals for your employees based on the day they are working, special events, previous year’s numbers, and other necessary factors specific to your store. Having these goals outlined and easily available to view offer your associates a sense of responsibility and something to work towards to. By offering sales goals incentives, you are giving your employees a sometimes necessary push to work a bit harder for something other than their paycheck. It provokes friendly competition at the same time.

Sales Contests With Incentives

Rather than just tell your employees to meet a sales goal, give them a reason to meet their sales goals. In a perfect world they would want to do this simply because it is their job, but the reality is it is not always that easy. If you offer your employees a reason to work harder to make their sales goals, you will reap the rewards in your sales numbers while also giving your employees something to get motivated about.

Wheel of Fortune – Rather than using the word fortune, though, insert whatever word makes sense for your business, such as footwear, jewelry, candy, etc. Once you have your contest title in place, simply cut out a cardboard circle and create pie peices on it with a marker. Each pie peice should have a prize listed, such as “additional paid 15 minutes  for lunch break”, “$10 store credit”, “local coffee shop gift card”, or “first choice of May hours”. You should list prizes that are both supportive of your store as well as rewarding to the employees individually. Be creative with what matters to your store associates and make this exciting. Use color and get creative when creating your “Wheel of Fortune”!

Fishing for Fun – Offer your employees the chance to “go fishing” by simply writing down some prizes, folding them up, and put them in a fish bowl. Make a bold, colorful, exciting sign that highlights the sales contests specifics and hang it from a branch (the goal is for it to look like a fishing pole – the real thing works too). Put your prizes in a bowl and let your employees go fishing when the meet their goals! Remember, use prizes that are both supportive to your store and individually rewarding, as well.

Schedule Sweetness – Do you have employees fighting for Sundays off and early shifts? Make your sales contest rewarding by offering some incentives towards your schedule. Be creative as to what will work best for you business. Get your employees excited so that they will work harder to get their Saturdays off! By winning your outlined sales contests, your employees can pick their hours (within guidelines, of course).

Whatever your incentives are, make sure to hype them up and get your team excited! The difference in sitting still or standing up and taking some action to help motivate your team is up to you!

If you have any contest ideas or other sales incentive ideas, let us know! Please comment on this blog. Thanks!


  • Karen
    July 17, 2009

    Times are tough and keeping morale up is very important yet getting very hard. I love these tips listed because not all of us managers have creative ideas in our head, so these tips are great for us to seem somewhat creative. Keep them going; and I would love to hear more.

  • Lauren
    February 9, 2010

    This is a great post — there is a new contest that Jewelry Information Center has designed for jewelry retailers to generate post-Valentine’s Day traffic, called the “Ultimate Proposal Contest” — it offers jewelry customers the chance to tell their proposal stories for a chance to win prizes — but the retailers and sales associates that participate can also win prizes for referring the most customers to JIC’s contest site. Check out information about it here:

    By the way, I love your tips and articles. My association (Jewelers of America) has a jewelry retail tips blog and your info would be very relevant to our readers — I’ll definitely be tracking back to you!

  • Mark
    February 14, 2010

    Nicole, I applaud you for making the recommendation to your readers that sales contests can challenge and keep retail employees motivated. You are absolutely right that people need to know what’s-in-it-for them. When employees make the connection between sales goals and their personal reward, it’s a very powerful combination.

    I just wrote an eBook (available for a free download at Sales ContestOlogy, 7 Step Guide to Sales Contest. Your readers should check it out for more specific details on setting goals and designing their contest.

  • Mahomed Kazee
    September 6, 2010

    On a few occasions now I’ve had to come up with a sales contest on the spur of the moment for clients I’m visiting.
    One very effective way is to write down details of a prize (anything from a free lunch, bus tickets, an afternoon off), stick it in an envelope and the winner of the sales contest gets to keep the envelope. Every hour the manager checks which associate is in the lead, and passes the envelope on to the new contest leader. Besides the Associates having fun while selling, I found the Managers unknowingly keeping a track of sales on the hour, every hour! Great for sales associates, managers, and the stores performance!

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