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Move the Middle and Improve Your Middle Performers in Sales Contests

January 6, 2021

When it comes to sales performance, there are two main strategies. The first is the idea that only the top 10 to 15 percent of top performers compete at a high level and drive the most sales. But this strategy relies heavily on a handful of employees. The second strategy is based on motivating most workers, specifically the middle 60 percent, to work at their best level.

Having a series of competitive sales contests is an excellent way to get your team excited. But if you want to boost your team’s productivity, you have to set things up in a way that motivation is the ultimate goal. Here are five steps you can take.

1.  Lottery tickets and prizes

As a sales manager, your biggest job is making sure the competition stays healthy. The worst thing that can happen is for your middle performers to develop resentment for your top workers. One way is to hand out lottery tickets based on the tally for your leader board. The better people do, the more tickets they get. This method pushes your middle performers to work harder, while ensuring that everyone has a chance to win a prize.

You can also set aside tickets as rewards for other targets met, like closed sales, meetings booked, calls made, deals closed, etc. Overall, the metric for reward is still top performance, so your best workers will have a greater chance of winning the year-end prize. But the idea of a lottery means everyone else still has a shot too. And that’s enough to keep people interested, especially if there are numerous prizes.

2.  Tier-drop prizes

If only the people at the top win every competition every time there is no motivation for those in the middle to make an effort. One way to fix this is by dividing the race into tiers. By setting different brackets for sales success each group of relatively similar individuals are competing against their peers. As a result, everyone has a chance of winning.

Combine this with a constantly evolving leaderboard and you’ll see numerous internal contests. With the overall impact pushing your middle performers to work harder and do better. If you want to move your middle, you need to give them achievable goals to work towards. And appreciation for those goals.

3.  Even distribution

What hurts team morale the most is pitting your top performers against your middle sales team. Instead, mix them up, select leaders from among your best workers and surround them with your potential-filled middle workers. This helps you in two ways. First, your average performers are pushed to distinguish themselves and share the team burden. Those with initiative and drive will rise upwards.

Second, you get the most out of your star performers. They are now in competition with other leaders. This means they will be more pressured to show better results and get more quality work out of their team members. It also gives them a chance to develop strong team-building skills and share knowledge with their coworkers.

Your sales team will each benefit on an individual level, and you will benefit overall as they all try to win the race. Don’t forget to mix things up by changing the team selections. You can have smaller teams of 3 to 4 or larger groups of 10 to 12 depending on the sales targets.

4.  Time allocation

As a sales manager, it is up to you to ensure the success of the contest and time plays a crucial role in how it plays out. Statistics show that employee interest in a competition is always highest in the beginning and towards the end. It tapers down steadily in the middle and depending on how long the contest draws on, the curve flattens to a minimum.

This means that it is always better to have a series of smaller competitions than one longer one because it gives your sales team a chance to reset and start again. Even if the prizes are smaller, the idea that they care begins from scratch and have a fighting chance each time pushes employees to do better.

5.  Clear goals

Your top 20 percent of performers are the ones who take the initiative and go beyond what they are asked to do. They need little oversight and exceed targets. But not all employees are like that. For the vast majority, you need to set clear goals if you want to see results.

To move the middle, you need to set goals that push your employees to the best of their ability but are still achievable. Setting unreasonable goals helps no one and only serves to demotivate your team. But it isn’t enough to just set goals. You also need to show them, or at least give a direction, for your sales personnel to take.

Put those insights into practice.

Set your team up for success by improving their performance through gamification.

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