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5 Ways Team Sales Contests Improve Accountability

· Jeremy Boudinet · 8 Minute Read

The up-and-down nature of sales, where every salesman can go through down periods, can lead to decreased self-confidence, apathy, and individual accountability amongst your sales force.

Employing team-based metrics in company CRMs is becoming an innovative, effective approach to keeping your sales force accountable not just to themselves and to upper management, but to one another. Sales teams that are not accountable to one another fail. It’s that simple.

How Team Sales Contests Drive Accountability

In any competitive environment where there is a team of individuals seeking to outperform their counterparts in the particular competition, whether it be professional sports or sales, teams that consist of players that are accountable to one another have a competitive edge. Long-term, sustained company or franchise success is predicated on developing this mentality.

Take the NBA, for instance. Since the turn of the millenium, the two most successful franchises are unquestionably the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers. Your model franchise should be simple: You want your company to be the Spurs, not the Lakers.

Why? The Spurs have managed to win at least 50 games in every single full season they have played over the last 15 years, whereas the Lakers have experienced a more tumultuous era beset by internal conflict. In sales, you can’t afford to be the inconsistent Lakers. You need to be the steady, high-achieving Spurs, who have famously cultivated a true sense of team accountability to one another, perhaps better than any pro sports franchise in the new millenium.

For sales forces, team-based competition is an excellent, proven means to drive peer-to-peer accountability and improve activity performance. If you have a sales force that regards themselves as a team and holds one another accountable, you are taking a crucial step toward ensuring long-term prosperity for that sales team.

#1. Peer accountability drives personal accountability.

The best sales reps are individuals who are already personally accountable. They will excel at their position regardless of management or coaching tactics through hard work and creativity. Unfortunately, they are also most likely 20 percent (if not less) of your sales force.

One can liken these reps to the high school football or basketball teammate who was a gym rat. This is the player who naturally pushed himself or herself because of an internal desire to be the best and a love for his craft.

Then there are the sales reps who are naturally gifted or good at their job, but lack the obsessively competitive personality to reach their full potential. Team-based metrics add an extra layer of accountability to these people, who are the next 50 to 60 percent of your sales force.

Many of these sales reps can be motivated by the instilling of a team mentality. If a sales rep is not motivated by personal accountability or accountability towards management, he or she may be motivated by an explicit sense of accountability to peers and coworkers.

#2. Improve communication and transparency.

Most companies now are tracking productivity metrics via a CRM. Unfortunately, a flaw of many CRMs is that they fail to allow other employees to see peer activity and production levels. By combining the CRM with team-based metric transparency, reps are more accountable for their pipeline, activities, and updated CRM.

Sales teams need to know on the aggregate level, “where are we succeeding and “why?” Or, “where are we failing and why?” A sales team that is succeeding can look at its team members' numbers and see what's working. One that is failing can look at its individual members’ numbers and see where they are lacking.

Maybe there is a really talented team member who simply isn’t making enough calls and putting forth the effort, while another team member has very high calls numbers and overall activity volume, but needs coaching on how to better communicate with the customer.

The key is: when you have not just your department manager, but your entire team of employees looking at this information, you create more opportunities to coach and improve.

Going back to the Spurs: they have become known for in-game huddles where Head Coach Gregg Popovich doesn’t speak and the players discuss amongst themselves strategy, adjustments, and so forth. You want those kinds of discussions consistently occurring amongst your sales force. 

#3. Change employee self-perception from “I” to “We.”

How do you want your employees to see themselves as they are walking into work: cubicle clock-punchers, or the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls?  The more employees who see themselves as elite competitors and teammates, the better. To the latter point, a very real problem that CRM-using sales forces face is getting their employees to buy into using the CRM.

Inputting data into a CRM can be time-consuming, monotonous, and uninspiring, especially for employees who never make the sales leaderboard. CRMs with team-based metrics combat these issues.

Team-based metrics also bolster the sense of camaraderie an employee has with his or her teammates.

For example, sales force member Mike knows exactly how much more revenue his coworker Michelle is generating. Not only that, he knows how much harder she is working to generate that revenue. If Mike considers Michelle a teammate, rather than a competitor, he is additionally driven to perform not just by his own competitive nature, but by his drive not to let her down.

No one wants to be the teammate who caused their team to lose the weekly or quarterly competition.

#4. Individual sales reps naturally begin assuming leadership roles.

Team-based metrics help sales reps feel accountable not just for their performance, but for their entire team’s performance. Some sales reps may then demonstrate a natural inclination to take proactive action to help fellow team members.

A good sales-tracking platform can display up-to-date individual metrics to an entire team, so members of the team will know which teammates are struggling and which are succeeding.  Using this data, a sales rep can distinguish himself or herself as having leadership potential when he or she sees that a member of the team is struggling and proactively tries to assist the team member.

Having team-based metrics thus allows companies to distinguish employees with management potential. In other words, company leadership can separate the Tim Duncans--the high achievers who excel at making the team around them better--from the Carmelo Anthonys, who demonstrate high production but poor leadership skills.

5. Create more opportunities for recognition and a healthy competitive mindset.

Lastly and building on the previous point, team-based metrics offer a healthier competitive environment and more opportunities for recognition for a sales force. Leaderboards and CRMs that do not take into account team-based metrics can create scenarios where a large part of the workforce feels ignored or disillusioned.

Without team-metrics, a sales team is less prone to maximizing productivity or using the CRM accurately and to its full potential. Top performers already know that if they don't update CRM numbers, it hurts their leaderboard status. With team-based metrics, middle-of-the-pack employees can see recognition when they help their team win.

Such positive feedback enables these average performers to become more productive and more committed to using their CRMs. Metrics are not just about them anymore, they are about their team. Being part of a team that competes regularly thus instills more opportunities for recognition and a healthier competitive atmosphere. Opportunity for recognition is not only available to your top performers, but to each individual employee.

After all, you need production from every person, not just your leaderboard. Just ask the 2007 NBA Champion Spurs.

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