8 Interesting Incentives to Motivate Your Car Dealership’s Sales Team

As a car dealership leader, you know that more selling activities lead to more sales, but run-of-the-mill bonus programs and contests can seem trite and boring. People appreciate and enjoy new and different. 

If you’re looking for some interesting incentives to motivate your sales team, check out eight of the most popular things I’ve implemented and seen done to spark interest in all kinds of teams. Sometimes the competition can be fierce, but it’s almost always friendly and fun. Most importantly, it leads to more sales for your dealership. 

Honk-and-Wave Competition

This competition is designed to focus on rewarding salespeople for doing more demonstration drives. When the salesperson drives off the lot with the customer, they stop so the sales manager can see them, honk the horn, and they wave (so does the customer). 

The top two or three people earn a spiff. It can be cash in hand, a gas card, or anything that motivates them. You may need to adjust the game to suit your dealership’s unique situation, but if more demos are your goal, then the Honk-and-Wave Competition may deliver your desired results.

Biggest Gross of the Day or Weekend

Gross profit pays the bills, so if you’re having difficulty getting salespeople to sell value, this is your game. This challenge can be held on a single day or spread over the weekend. Keep a scoreboard in the sales office or training room (where customers can’t see it) to recognize the top gross performers and create a competitive atmosphere. 

The reward goes to the top two to three performers, and the payout can be either a flat dollar amount or a percentage of their total achieved gross. 

Smallest Gross of the Day or Weekend 

This competition is perfect if you see that salespeople are walking customers because they’re not making enough on a deal, or if they’re prequalifying the tough price customers. With this challenge, you recognize and reward even the smallest deals—losers included. 

This challenge can be held on a single day or spread out over the weekend. The reward goes to the top two to three performers, and the payout is a flat dollar amount since a percentage of the gross isn’t an option. 

Worst Credit Challenge 

Sometimes, we find out that a customer can’t buy because they’re credit challenged, but that should only happen after following the sales process and treating them as if they have great credit. 

The Worst Credit Challenge is designed to incentivize salespeople for treating everyone the same and getting them all to negotiation. This can be held on a single day or spread out over the weekend. The reward goes to the top two to three performers, and the payout is a flat dollar amount. The top performers are recognized and rewarded, while every customer is treated like a buyer.

Trade-In Inequity Challenge

The Trade-In Inequity Challenge is used when salespeople are finding out what the customer owes on their trade too early and determining—on their own—if they are too buried to get a new vehicle. 

This challenge rewards salespeople for getting everyone to the negotiation table and not just the ones they feel are real. Doing this challenge over two or three days will typically deliver the best results. It simply rewards the top two to three salespeople who negotiate with customers that have the biggest trade-in inequity.

Rewards of Unspeakable Value Challenge

Roger Allen, manager at a Honda store, uses this challenge to motivate his team.

Give each salesperson an individual goal for the month. If they meet the goal, spend $400 on an item for them. Spend an extra $200 on something for whoever exceeds the goal by the largest percentage. 

Don’t ask the salespeople what they want, and don’t do cash. Talk to their spouse or family about something they would like to get. 

According to Allen, “This is the best contest we have ever done. The key is giving them what they really want.” 

Games of Chance

Games of chance are a fun way to generate excitement. They can be card games, dice games, darts, or any other creative idea you come up with. The key is to have the reward tied to your desired results. 

For example, salespeople can play poker against the manager, where they earn cards based on specific results and their best hand has a predetermined payout. That payout then gets doubled if they beat the manager’s hand. The most important thing to remember is to keep the games fun, fresh, and focused on the desired results you want.

Cash is King Bonus

Salespeople are often afraid to ask for down payment for various reasons. The Cash is King Bonus pays salespeople 5 to 10 percent for every down payment they get. 

Down payments are important because they create faster trade cycles and every time we lower it, the customer feels like they’ve won. In this way, the down payment option is actually a win-win for the dealership and the customer. 

By running this interesting incentive, you’ll be amazed how often and how much down payment your salespeople will start getting.


Tim Kintz is the author of the Amazon bestsellers, Frictionless and Fearless, and president of The Kintz Group, the automotive industry’s premier sales and management training company.

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