Motivation is crucial in both sales productivity and employee retention. However, current ideas about what motivates sales representatives may be increasingly outdated and narrow.
Leaderboards are a common way to motivate a sales team. The idea behind them is that friendly competition is human nature, and the results of hard work can be showcased for everyone to see. They are tried and tested, and studies show they usually do work in improving performance.
For the more competitive and successful members of staff, this can boost productivity and morale. They feel gratified to know that hard work wasn’t in vain.
But, what if it was in vain? With every leaderboard, there will be a last place. And, sometimes, putting in the most effort doesn’t always result in being the best salesperson. If the game of the leaderboard is “winner takes all”, it could lower morale among some of the less competitive or newer staff.
So how can leaderboards be used to motivate all team members equally to get the best for them and the business? By being more astute about which measures are used in leaderboard scores. Not everything should be measured in pounds and dollars, and not everything should be turned into a game.
We find gamification in all walks of life, from automated recruitment methods, to language learning, to sales leaderboards.
In a sales context, it’s a matter of tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) and rewarding team members for achieving targets (sales revenue, number of units sold, etc.).
However, gamification is only surface-deep. The term usually refers to a mindset of instant gratification and immediate material reward.
Salespeople are motivated by a range of factors, just like everyone else. In an age where awareness of work-life balance, mindfulness, and mental health is widespread, modern salespeople place greater emphasis than they used to on enjoyment and a sense of being valued. They want to find motivation from more than just a relentless treadmill of unadorned targets and metrics.
One way to help job fulfilment is to show the meaning behind the sales. For example, frequently publicising customer success stories that show the scale and impact of the sales the team makes and how it has a real, tangible impact on their own business and that of the customer can be highly motivating.
For too long, businesses have been treating the sales force as the extremities of a business - getting their hands dirty but not really being a part of the core business. This can create a feeling that the sales team never gets to give feedback and have input into the rest of the business. It can also lead to departmental silo-mentality.
The way to solve this is simply by creating better channels of communication. By using simple methods accessible by the sales operators, customer service, finance, and other departments, the sales team should be able to express the trends, ideas and market intelligence from their daily experience in sales.
It’s not just about the sales team having a voice, but also about making them feel a part of the business as a whole. This means the sales team also hearing other departments and understanding their work. This is essential for creating a collective company culture and purpose, rather than separate department cultures.
The disadvantages of over-gamification and competitiveness are clear, but celebrating the wins is still rewarding and important in knowing a person is making a positive impact. This is where KPIs, data, and clear visual reporting are valuable.
Results and reports should be celebrated across the entire business, such as during a town hall meeting. This way, salespeople can experience their success within the business as a whole, gaining recognition from other departments. Likewise, all of the sales team can see how their work is valued beyond just their familiar peers.
There may be a way to gamify work for everyone to an extent, but it requires some personalisation, and consideration of whether it is appropriate. For example, if it’s not the sale monetary value alone that some people enjoy but rather onboarding a new customer and establishing a new relationship, their leaderboard could focus more on measures surrounding customer feedback.
Overall, it’s always important to remember that a business without sales revenue cannot survive, and sales performance will always be an essential part of how sales team members are assessed. Good managers will be able to achieve good levels of performance more easily with motivational tools that have the right encouraging effect for everyone, not just those at the top of a leaderboard.