Who doesn’t like to keep score?
When I think about scorekeeping, for some reason I’m reminded of my first tee-ball experience as a parent. Moms and dads were told, “We never keep score because we don’t want the self-esteem of your children to be harmed. We just want them to have fun.”
Yet, what was every mom doing in the bleachers at every game? Keeping score. The dads? We kept score in our heads. We sat there silently hoping our team would crush the other.
Keeping score can be motivating. Most people with drive want to keep scaling. They don’t want to be left behind.
A scoring system is a mechanism that can push all of us to greater performance. I believe that’s especially true for the sales team of any small business.
A Sales Leaderboard Example
My all-time favorite sales leaderboard that I’ve created is shown below.
It’s super simple with the following attributes:
- The bar chart shows actual performance against plan.
- Even the category headings show the percentage of actual to plan.
- The leaderboard at right ranks all reps on trailing 12-month performance.
At a quick glance, we see who is over-performing. We see who is under-performing. I believe it’s clear who needs coaching and mentoring.
Below the leaderboard, I include a scrollable area where each sales person’s performance is shown for the past 15 to 18 months.
I’m partial to XmR charts like the one below. These charts reveal signals where noise is typically the norm. For example, one great sales month is typically random or driven by a one-time assignable event (like a big sales promotion).
And now the $64,000 question. Should this leaderboard be shared for all salespeople to see? Or like the tee ball officials, will this public display of information be harmful to each sales person’s self-esteem?
Sales Leaderboards–Should You or Shouldn’t You?
I met Jeff Groenke, a V.P. of sales based in Springfield, Missouri. Jeff has also worked as an Outsourced VP of Sales through his former consulting firm, Sales Xceleration. I just had to find out Jeff’s opinions about sales rep leaderboards. He did not disappoint.
G3CFO: Okay Jeff, you are on the spot. Do we show the leaderboard or not?
Jeff Groenke: Both approaches can be used but I prefer to have a leaderboard posted on the intranet/internal website that shares the sales representatives results with the entire company.
G3CFO: And I’m assuming you pull the under-performers aside to address their issues, correct?
Jeff Groenke: I believe it is critical to understand that any discussion regarding results or lack of results is always covered in one-on-one meetings and not during a group sales meeting.
This would include discussions on improvement and areas of development. In addition, any discussions regarding the pipeline are also covered in a one-on-one setting because a sales representative doesn’t want to sit through a meeting or discussion addressing another sales rep’s pipeline/funnel.
The group/team sales meetings should be focused on training, new products, and business development, and anything else benefiting the team.
G3CFO: Explain what your sales leaderboard looks like. I recognize mine is very high-level (on purpose). I want to know about yours.
Jeff Groenke: I normally get a subset of the sales force (strong and mid-level) together and come up with a set of 5 key KPI’s (weighted appropriately) that will be used to measure all sales representatives for overall success.
I then rank each salesperson in each of the 5 KPI’s and come up with an overall rating/score.
Each of the KPI’s is color-coded as green (at goal or above), yellow (needs improvement), or red (unacceptable) and is given an up or down arrow or a = sign based on the previous scoring.
For example, I could be yellow with an up arrow or red with an up arrow or green with a = sign or down arrow. This makes it really clear if progress is being made regarding each of the KPI’s.
Each of the KPI’s is totaled to come up with an overall score which is also color coded with an arrow indicator. When posting the scores on the intranet you can do it in two ways: with normal top to bottom ranking, or if you really want to drive immediate change, reverse rank the scores so the lowest performer is at the top.
Nobody wants to be at the top with the reverse ranking. However, I usually only reverse rank if a strong cultural change is needed with a focus on accountability.
Sales Leaderboard Key Takeaways
I believe it’s safe to say that a sales leaderboard is effective. I hardly believe your “A” players will give you grief for publicly displaying a leaderboard. “C” players? That’s a different story, presumably.
If you have a CRM system, start with their dashboards first. Many CRM systems have well-designed scorecards that Jeff discussed earlier (although Jeff’s will have more insightful analytics baked in).
If not, building your own in Excel is not hard. Just keep it simple for now. In mine, I’m tracking about 14 or so data points and just a few more for each person’s recent sales history. The charts are updated automatically. It takes the office manager about 5 minutes to update the underlying tables monthly. Again, keep it simple when getting started.
Addendum–A Personal Plug for Jeff Groenke
I’ve only met Jeff once. Already, I call him a friend. That should give you an indication of the type of person he is.
Need a sounding board on a sales question? While Jeff has a full-time job, I bet he’d answer a question or two in LinkedIn.
Image by Frank Fohlinger.