In case you haven’t heard: we just released our first-ever State of Sales Performance Management Survey Report. It’s chock-full of important findings from sales leaders and reps across the globe — the kind of data that could change the way you’re “doing” sales right now.

Some of the results weren’t shocking; in fact, a lot of them affirmed things that we (and our customers) know to be true: like sales coaching matters (a lot) and everyone loves a sales competition — in fact, about 75% of respondents said they have run or will run a contest this year.

But as we dug into the data, we’ll admit: a few of the findings caught us off guard. Here are the top 3 most surprising stats that came out of the survey — and what they mean for you and your team.

1) Only 10.5% of reps said they’re all about awards programs.

Are you putting too much stock into your awards programs? Maybe they worked wonders for past generations, but it appears they don’t have the same effect on millennials, who likely make up the bulk of your sales force today. (Note: this doesn’t mean awards programs are obsolete, but it does mean they need some restructuring.)

So what really gets modern reps fired up to sell? According to the survey:

  • For 32% of reps, it’s visibility into numbers: That’s right: managers aren’t the only ones who care about data. Your reps really want to know the numbers — where they stand, how they’re progressing, and how they measure up to their peers.

  • For 26% of reps, it’s public recognition: Celebrating a job well done reinforces the right behaviors and sets a positive example for the rest of your team.

  • For 21% of reps, it’s sales contests: Sales reps are a competitive bunch, and contests tap into that spirit.

That’s a relatively even split — but good news: you can keep everyone happy and motivated to succeed, all at the same time, by running a sales contest the right way. That means:

  • Leveraging a good mix of individual and team contests

  • Focusing on the right KPIs — i.e., the early activities that lead to closed deals.

  • Keeping performance and progress visible and accessible at all times (think: TV leaderboards)

  • And of course, celebrating wins.

2) More than 30% of reps don’t have performance insight on a daily basis.

Yikes: One-third of reps who participated in the survey said they only get performance insights on a weekly or quarterly basis. Given the fact that visibility into numbers gets them fired up to sell (see above!) — there’s a huge missed opportunity here.

It’s beyond difficult to be a data-driven leader if you don’t have clean, current data at your fingertips. But keep in mind: it’s not just about you. Even if you’ve found a way to make manual reporting on spreadsheets or whiteboards work for you, that doesn’t mean it’s working for the rest of your team.

Individual reps need to understand — and better yet, visualize — how they’re progressing toward their goals, how they compare to their peers, and how they’re delivering value to the company. That level of transparency keeps everyone aligned and accountable. But if those insights aren’t delivered in real time, on a continual basis, they’re far less useful — because it’s too late to double down on what’s working or course correct as needed.

Simply put: delivering performance insights once a quarter, once a month, or even once a week isn’t enough.

3) 43% of sales leaders said their company only offers career development training twice a year or less.

We can’t stress this enough: give the people what they want (and need!). The vast majority of reps said they were more likely to stay with a company that emphasizes coaching and development — yet our survey showed that those initiatives are often mediocre or altogether lacking.

Career development often takes a backseat to coaching programs, and we get it: time and resources are precious. But the effort can have a powerful impact on your sales culture and your bottom line.

Showing that you’re invested in your reps success — not just as employees, but as sales professionals — is what being a people-first team is all about. It strengthens relationships, it builds trust, it makes for happier, more fulfilled reps. Together, all of those things are good for productivity, performance and retention. (Oh, and revenues.)

Want more sales performance stats? Download the full survey report here and see how you measure up.

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