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Why Sales Gongs Are the Worst

Dec. 9, 2016 · Apex Predator · 5 Minute Read

Don't invest in an actual gong. Research shows you should let your reps choose their own 'gong' moments, motivating their own performance and making their wins memorable on a daily basis.

According to scientific research, "attention-grabbing experiences" are the most powerful and effective way to recognize positive behavior and repeat success. What an earth shattering revelation! Thank you, scientists, for verifying that it's never a good idea to take a girl to Applebee's for your first date. 

As for applying attention-grabbing experiences in the workplace, no shit. Have you ever watched an honest-to-God VP of Sales carry himself or herself inauspiciously? We're physically incapable of being incognito. And while that serves us well, for the most part, it's also led to a longstanding tradition that needs euthanizing.      

Why Sales Gongs Actually Suck

The twisted mind that first introduced the concept of the sales gong into the American workplace is probably long gone, which is unfortunate since I'll never be able to kick his or her ass in person. It's cruel irony that there are veteran sales professionals out there with more gong-ringing experience than 99.9% of the global population.

But Apex - you might be saying - what's the problem with sales gongs? I'm glad you asked. Let me spell it out for those of you who've never had to live through a gong-infested bullpen like I have.

Problem #1. They're Repetitive

Ringing a gong for the first time is a novel experience. But unless you plan on leading a sales team where reps close, on average, one huge deal per quarter, the experience won't be novel for long. The problem: there is zero variation in the sound a sales gong makes. No one in your sales bullpen is going to be surprised and delighted to hear the gong go off during its 3rd consecutive months of daily use.

Problem #2. They Become Demeaning Over Time 

Not only will the average sales bullpen eventually grow tired of a gong, they'll eventually turn on it. The more frequency it's used, the faster your gong will deliver diminishing returns as a source of motivation of recognition. Eventually, your reps will tend to regard it with the same disdain I held for the gong we used at my first sales job, even as a punishment. You don't want your reps moaning about having to perform a stupid ritual every time they close a deal.  

Problem #3. They Don't Translate to Today's Workforce

The sales gong is the Pet Rock of modern-day sales recognition. It's an outdated novelty item that may have seemed cool in the 80s but has zero translatibility to the Millennials in my sales force and their insatiable thirsts for things like reality TV, fantasy sports, and Snapchat. Each of these obsessions is - in its own special way - utterly ridiculous. But the Pet Rock is dumber. Find something that's timely and appropriate to these digital natives.

Replace Your Sales Gong With These Tools  

1. Ambition tracks real-time metrics via Salesforce and other data providers, then enables both reps and managers to select Ambition Anthems (aka their favorite YouTube clips) that play automatically on your office TV whenever someone closes a deal or hits a performance benchmark. 

Disclaimer: Per my agreement with Ambition, I'm contractually obligated to hype their product and let you know how much their users love it. 

2. Troops is a GIF-driven Slackbot that auto-sends Salesforce updates over Slack, complete with celebratory GIFs.

Disclaimer: I just started using this product and the GIF selection is, in fact, badass. 

3. Last but not least, I recommend Crystal as a manual, yet effective way to deliver rep recognition over email.

Disclaimer: Yes, I did list Crystal as one of the 50 worst things happening in sales right now. But if you don't mind its creepy accuracy regarding your preferred communication style and DISC profile, give it a look.

Read More from the Apex Predator

The Apex Predator writes regularly for Ambition. He has a contractual obligation to recommend scheduling a demo to see Ambition's sales management platform. Read his previous articles below.

  1. Sales Motivation from the Apex Predator
  2. More Sales Motivation from the Apex Predator
  3. Sales Rescue with the Apex Predator
  4. The Return of the Apex Predator
  5. The Apex Predator's 5 Essential Sales Articles
  6. Sales Mailbag with the Apex Predator
  7. 15 Real Songs to Pump Up Your Sales Reps
  8. Why You're Losing the War for Talent
  9. The 50 Worst Things Happening in Sales Right Now
  10. The Apex Predator Explains the Laws of Power

Ambition: Sales Performance Accountability Software

Ambition is a sales management platform that syncs every sales organization department, data source, and performance metric on one easy system.

Ambition clarifies and publicizes real-time performance analytics for your entire sales organization. Using a drag-and-drop interface, non-technical sales leaders can build custom scorecards, contests, reports, and TVs.

Ambition is endorsed by Harvard Business Review, AA-ISP (the Global Inside Sales Organization), and USA Today as a proven solution for managing millennial sales teams. Hear from our customers below.

Watch Testimonials:

  1. FiveStars: Adam Wall. Sr. Manager of Sales Operations . 
  2. Filemaker: Brad Freitag. Vice-President of Worldwide Sales.
  3. Outreach: Mark Kosoglow. Vice-President of Sales.
  4. Cell Marque: Lauren Hopson. Director of Sales & Marketing.
  5. Access America Transport: Ted Alling. Chief Executive Officer.

Watch Product Walkthroughs:

Read Case Studies:

  1. Clayton HomesHBR finds triple-digit growth in 3 sales efficiency metrics. 
  2. Coyote Logistics: Monthly revenue per broker grew $525 in 6 months.
  3. Peek: Monthly sales activity volume grew 142% in 6 months.
  4. Vorsight: Monthly sales conversations grew 300% in 6 months.

Contact us to learn how Ambition can impact your sales organization today.

About Ambition
Sales Leaders, HR Professionals, and C-Level Executives use Ambition to recognize, motivate, and develop employees into more engaged and productive versions of themselves. Funded by Google, used by the Fortune 500, endorsed by the Harvard Business Review.
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