Note: This post was originally an answer to a question over on Quora. Read the entire thread here.
Whilst the idea of a sales leaderboard seems simple, but there are plenty of easy mistakes to make which will result in undesirable effects. If there is no deep thought put into competitions and leaderboards - they often favour certain people, can definitely discriminate against others and easily result in "bad sales behaviours".
However, with all of that said, great salespeople are competitive, in their nature.
Sales competitions absolutely work. We all know that. However, the role of the leaderboard, or sales competition is to unlock, or unleash that competitive spirit. In addition, a great competition should inspire all members of a team, not just the top performers.
What can I do to make sure my entire team is incentivised?
The "big problem" here, is that most sales companies track the wrong KPI's, in order to motivate their teams. Of course, every team has their closing superstars, who won't be beaten, on pure sales numbers alone. Every team needs to have Top Performers, Middle Performers and Low Performers. It's the nature of the game.
However, don't let this be a barrier to running sales competitions that can actually help to DRIVE UP the performance of the Middle Performers. Remember, your Top Performers normally don't need your attention, your Low Performers probably shouldn't be there, and it's your Middle Performers where you should focus your attention. Growth amonst the Middle Performers can really drive the needle!
Instead of building the leaderboard around sales and financials, build the leaderboard based on activities. Find the behaviour that you feel will lead to more results - and use a competition to drive it. It can be anything, booked meetings, follow up phone calls booked, invoices sent out or even “25 calls before 9am”.
To keep momentum up, try throwing curveballs. A couple of days into the competition, mix things up - award double points for new client pitches for example. The best sales teams run on momentum and energy - so make sure you keep those up by constantly keeping tabs on the competition!
At the end of the day, sales is a game. Simple gamification techniques such as leaderboards and contests can definitely help to boost results. There is NO doubting that.
But instead of just throwing up a simple leaderboard with the current sales numbers, try competing on different KPI's. By doing so, you'll keep things fresh, you'll create a more activity-driven organisation and you'll make sure your entire team feel included, and feel they have a chance to win!
Remember, the most important aspect of a contest, is that every participant has a chance to win.