Instilling a competitive climate in your office can spark a higher sales performance among your agents.

A competitive spirit can get you far in a sales environment, which is why, as a broker, you may be more inclined to recruit sales associates with an ultracompetitive personality. It stands to reason that agents who are hungry for prospects and sales will elevate their production numbers and bring in higher commissions.

But if your entire team doesn’t share that same competitive spirit, your more driven agents may not reach their highest sales potential, according to a study appearing in Baylor University’s Keller Center Research Report, “Better Together: Competitive Agents and Competitive Climate in the Agency.” After analyzing the performance of 117 salespeople, researchers found that if a competitive person is placed in a noncompetitive environment, they’ll perform no better than their noncompetitive peers. The office culture, therefore, overrides a person’s competitive nature, the study found.

So how do brokerages keep the competitive drive burning? Recruiting competitive agents is just one piece of the puzzle. Other options include offering incentives through both monetary and nonmonetary rewards, such as preferred parking spots or a trophy that gets passed around to the top producer or most improved agent each month. The idea is to instill a friendly rivalry within the company without crushing your agents’ spirits.

Here are more ideas that brokers have found successful for fueling a healthy yet competitive office atmosphere: 

Sponsor Contests

Try a “Listing Olympics,” such as the one developed by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Texas Realty in Austin, which took place in 2012 to tie into the Summer Olympics in London. About 150 agents in five offices participated. Agents could earn a gold, silver, or bronze medal, depending on how many residential listings they landed over a 90-day period. The first-place prize was an all-inclusive weekend luxury hotel package in Austin. Other medalists received restaurant gift cards.

To keep it fair, sales associates were divided into three groups: the Gamma Team (agents with less than one year of experience with the company); Beta Team (one to three years of experience); and Alpha Team (more than three years of experience). To be eligible for a prize, the Alpha Team had to get at least five listings, the Beta Team needed at least four listings, and the Gamma Team needed at least three listings over a 90-day period.

Rick Ellis, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Austin, says that dividing the agents into teams based on experience helped establish a more equal footing. The top agents in each category were called to the podium during the quarterly sales meeting at the Austin Board of REALTORS®’ office, where they received their medals (which were purchased at a party store).

“We want to motivate our agents to do their best, and that’s for the company’s benefit, too,” says Ellis. “We try to make it fun, and the Listing Olympics was one good example of how we did that.”

The company now offers up several contests to keep agents motivated throughout the year, such as a monthly “Three’s Best” competition, recognizing agents with the top sales or most listings. The award usually consists of the company taking winners out for an honoree luncheon.

Ellis says they use the sales contests as a fun way to deliver information to their agents. For example, in the Three’s Best competition, the brokerage sends tools such as trainings or lead generation techniques to help agents achieve their goal. “It’s also a way for us to arm agents with as much information about our programs and services as possible to get more listings,” Ellis says.

Constantly recognizing employees for a good job is key to keeping them motivated, Ellis says. In addition to the sales contests, his company also calls out good production numbers on a sales board—a 50-by-55-inch screen prominently displayed in the office meeting room. “Agents see their names on the board and it’s another source of pride,” Ellis says.

Award Performance-Enhancing Activities

Philip Lang, COO and cofounder of Triplemint Real Estate in New York, holds several monthly sales contests for his team but makes sure they aren’t all based on production numbers. Contests are based on number of client reviews, average client ratings, and most social media posts mentioning the company, as well as most referrals generated from past clients.

“Running a sales contest based only on sales volume tends to reward the same top performers and can often be demotivating to people who are newer and less established in the business,” Lang says. Since top performers are already being rewarded through commissions, Lang says structuring incentives around other parts of the business funnel help motivate agents who may be newer or hitting a rough patch in their business. It’s important to inspire the behaviors that will result in long-term success but might be hard to do on a daily basis, he says. Prizes for the monthly contests range from lunch with the company’s founders to iPads, staycations, and restaurant gift certificates.

“We try to stay away from cash because it can feel thoughtless. There is often more perceived value in something like a Broadway show than the $300 it took to buy the tickets,” Lang says. “This is especially true for millennials who tend to value experiences.”


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Get more ideas for motivating your team through healthy competition: 10 Great Sales Contests