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What Could Sales Management Learn From Sports?


How are sales management and sports related? While there may only be a few commonalities worth noting, one of the most useful is the effect of competition. 

When you think of Michael Jordan’s greatest moments – the “Flu Game,” 63 points against Larry Bird and the Celtics, The Shot – almost all of them happened during the playoffs. For any athlete, what moments are more critical than the playoffs? The level of competition increases and it brings the best out of the greatest athletes. 

Your sales team may not be fighting for an NBA championship, but it probably could benefit from some friendly competition. 

A sales management tactic worth using to stir your team’s competitive juices is gamifying your sales objectives. In conjunction with the sales incentive programs you already use, create an office competition that pits your reps against one another or ranks the team on specific sales metrics. 

Again, the spirit of the competition must be friendly. The reward for winning should be small enough that it doesn’t produce any negative behavior or gaming of the system, but valuable enough for your sales team to get into it. 

That being said, the rewards don’t have to be monetary. Of course, some extra cash is always nice, but bragging rights within the office are often a great incentive to get salespeople excited. 

To harness the competition of sports and produce greater results, consider the following best practices: 

  • Measure competition using metrics you already track: Using new metrics that force your team to do extra work to see where they stand limits the effectiveness of what you’re trying to accomplish. Make sure you use metrics that your sales reps are already tracking. 
  • Reward on a monthly or quarterly basis: Short-term objectives could stimulate counterproductive long-term behavior. Make sure your timeline is long enough that your team members don’t sacrifice the future for the immediate present. 
  • Ensure transparency: No one wants to get the impression that a competition is unfair. Be completely transparent with the rules, including how everything is tracked and where everyone stands. 

The Tellwise Nutshell (TTN): Sales management is an undertaking that balances pushing for results and catering to human behavior. Take a page out of the sports book (not the one in Vegas) and leverage the spirit of competition to get a little more out of your team this quarter. Gamify your objectives, track the competition with your most important metrics and keep the rewards relatively small. If you do it right, your team is likely to give you a little extra this period. 

Check out our case studies to learn how organizations are benefitting from the Tellwise experience.

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