Why more sales teams should embrace a leaderboard

by Steli Efti
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The best part about competition is that we discover what we're capable of achieving—and how much more we can actually do than we might have believed. It’s an internal passion for competition that inspired many executives to start their careers in sales. It’s an internal passion for competition that makes many athletes great salespeople.

Yet for some reason… many companies avoid internal competition like the plague.

It shouldn’t be avoided. 

It should be embraced and properly facilitated. 

OK, sure—competition can go wrong very quickly if it’s not facilitated the right way. There’s nothing worse than unhealthy internal competition. A few months back I chatted with an executive who was struggling with intra-team sabotage. Salespeople were so territorial that they wouldn’t make introductions on behalf of their colleagues even when they had a connection to a prospect’s company. 

Why?

Because they wanted the credit for themselves. 

That’s a broken mindset and a broken culture. Sales teams need to recognize and embrace the power that is unlocked when they collaborate toward a common goal. And sales leaders need to help facilitate this by showing their teams key metrics that demonstrate the role that collaboration can play in success. Furthermore, sales leaders need to recognize the role technologies like a sales leaderboard/ dashboard can play in facilitating and improving the competitive culture with their team. 

Want to build and run a highly motivated sales team? Get a free copy of The Sales Hiring Playbook where I share advice on not just hiring but also managing and motivating a high-performance sales team.

When you’re a kid you play soccer, basketball, baseball and other sports without really caring too much about the score. It doesn’t matter who has the most points and it doesn’t matter who has the most assists. But as you get older and begin to play at a higher level all of these details begin to matter more and more. On a sales team, it’s important to recognize that no one is getting a participation trophy. They don’t exist.

You’re either hitting your quota or you’re not. And an internal sales leaderboards is a great way to stir up competition, show the score and create a culture that thrives. But that’s not the only reason why sales dashboards should be embraced. Here are a few key advantages:

More sales transparency

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When you can see how everyone on the team is doing with their outbound activity, inbound efforts and email outreach, there are many benefits—the biggest being that no one wants to see their name at the bottom of the list, so team members will push themselves harder to achieve results that are comparable to their colleagues’. 

By tapping into a sales rep’s internal desire to measure their performance against others’, a leaderboard increases motivation and ensures that there’s nowhere to hide when it comes to meeting goals and expectations. 

Increased employee engagement

According to the Gallup Management Journal, only 29% of employees are actively engaged in their jobs, and 54% are not engaged at all. Many case studies over the years have emphasized how important it is to have an engaged team. 

Sales leaderboards reveal just how engaged the team is while also inspiring more engagement. The last thing you want is a sales team that sleepwalks their way to quota without ever striving for a little bit more. A leaderboard can facilitate that desire by rewarding the person at the top and gamifying the sales experience for the entire team.

Be mindful about your approach to this. Here's one best practice tip for boosting your team's motivation by Brian Trautschold, who has a lot of experience in that field:

"Its key to understand that for most companies, only 10-20% of your sales org will end up on any given leaderboard.

One thing sales leaders should explore is how to highlight effort and improvement of their reps who may not be the top performer in any given category. For example, showcase who has improved the most over a time period versus simply who has done the most."

Remember, it's about elevating the performance of every single team member, not just about shining a spotlight on your sales stars.

Real-time feedback

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The best sales leaderboards are connected directly to your CRM so there won’t be delays between your team’s activity and the leaderboard standings. When you’re checking in on a basketball game, you don’t want to see updates that are minutes or hours behind. It’s the same thing here—no one wants their sales leaderboard showing key metrics that are way outdated.

The built-in sales dashboard provided by our CRM gets all the sales data in real-time directly. This is important not only for individual team members but also for sales leaders who have to give progress reports to the C-suite or board. 

Improved coaching model

The best coaches will tell you that data is one of their most powerful tools. Adding leaderboards to your set of sales management tools allows leaders to pinpoint where your team is struggling, which efforts need more attention and which regular tasks aren’t moving the needle enough to drive results. 

Insights like this offer MASSIVE value for team development. The leaderboard can help a leader identify a weak link who needs to be encouraged—or let go. It can help a leader identify gaps in their team’s schedules.

Our friends at Ambition shared this story of a sales team that implemented sales leaderboards:

"We partnered with a great sales organization that was trying to change their culture, wanting to create better utilization of their CRM and have some more fun as a group.

Initially, they came to Ambition with some level of skepticism because a large number of people on their team were field sales reps. So why would they care about a leaderboard?

But they'd heard rave reviews about our platform and wanted to give it a try.

Amazingly, the success came in two parts. First, by adopting Ambition they had to clearly define the KPIs (and associated activities) that were important to sales success. Doing this created visibility and drove adoption of the CRM.

Compounding on those positives, the fun started as the field reps discovered that back at the HQ, company execs were seeing top performers and leaders on big screen TVs. But word spread quickly as leadership started celebrating and recognizing excellent performance they'd seen on the TVs with shoutouts and emails to the entire sales group.

The transformation locked in a powerful feedback cycle as doing the right things became celebrated and rewarded with recognition."

- Brian Trautschold, co-founder of Ambition

Wrapping things up

A sales leaderboard is a simple yet effective way to drive more engagement, improve your coaching, promote transparency and offer real-time feedback to you and your team. Combined, these ingredients facilitate a competitive internal culture that thrives. 

As you think about your sales team and how you can increase engagement, consider a leaderboard as a part of your management stack. It can change the way your team views competition and supercharge their motivation to pick up the phone, make a call and close a new deal. 

Sales Hiring Playbook CoverWant to learn more about cultivating a positive sales culture? Download a complimentary copy of The Sales Hiring Playbook, which not only gives you actionable advice on hiring the right people, but also on how to manage and motivate them.

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