APRIL 1990

Sales contests are designed to motivate the troops, but once salespeople feel they're out of the running for prizes, they won't work as hard. Network General Corp., a software company in Menlo Park, Calif., took this into account when it designed a major selling contest three years ago for its outside reps. "It worked out great," says George Comstock, vice-president for business development.

Instead of offering one prize, the company set different award levels. At one level, for example, winners received a Caribbean cruise for one person, at another level the same cruise for two. Midway through the contest, a third level was added: a trip for two to Tahiti.

Instead of employees becoming discouraged, "these guys were pulling all the way through," Comstock says, and about 30 people won trips. The prizes cost the company a lot of money, admits Comstock, "but it was worth it -- the contest more than paid for itself."