Sales Management Feed

The Dirty Secret to Increasing Win Rates: It’s Not Call Quantity

LinaErohToday's post is by Lina Eroh, director of marketing and communications at Accuvit. Accuvit provides "conversation science" for inside sales teams, unearthing the data hidden in sales calls and using it to improve the quality of conversations.


You’ve hired the best reps. You’ve trained them on your script and armed them with the latest sales tools in the industry – yet close rates are still lagging. 

What’s the deal?

What if I told you that your focus on quantity of dials was hurting your team? Would you believe that?

It might seem counterintuitive, especially to sales managers who have staked their careers on a faithful adherence to the philosophy that more calls will lead to more deals and higher revenue. At Accuvit, however, we theorized that call quantity was not necessarily the defining factor of success for sales teams. So we performed an interesting experiment at two different sales organizations, both aiming for 100-plus dials a day, to see whether we could find proof that quantity hurts win rates.

The short answer: both organizations saw diminishing returns after 65 dials and a sweet spot of 40 to 60 dials a day. Reps who “failed” to meet the quantity target actually closed the most deals and brought in the most revenue.

Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be. Longer calls by definition take more time, which means fewer calls a day. 

Longer calls also lead to more deals. When we calculated the total length of calls that led to closed versus lost deals, we saw that “winning” calls lasted 1.8 times longer than “losing” calls. In other words, reps making winning calls should be making only half the number of calls that other reps make, since they’re on the phone for double the length of time. Of course, it’s not just the call that counts but what’s said on the phone, or as we like to think of it, the quality of the conversation.

Call quality is the mystery variable in sales analytics, because measuring the quality of a conversation is far from straightforward. Outside of listening to each call, it’s nearly impossible to train reps to have better conversations. Yet quality is a key metric when it comes to improving sales efficiency. Ignoring it affects your bottom line. 

That’s where we come in. Using a process we call Conversation Science™, we make it easy for managers to measure and track the quality of a pitch. We look at several measures to compute the quality score, including cadence mirroring and filler words, but today we’ll focus on adherence to scripts or call guides. After all, you spend tons of time writing these for your reps. Do they actually work to increase win rates?

The answer is a resounding yes. Our data shows the following:  

  • Using keywords from a well-written script leads to longer conversations.
  • Calls that progress through the funnel use 2.5 times the number of keywords!
  • The best conversations use 3.8 keywords a minute.
  • Using keywords at the very beginning of calls leads to longer calls (which lead to more wins). 

The bad news: our data showed that more than 30 percent of callers did not use any keywords. Considering that using keywords triples your chances of closing a deal, that’s nothing short of a fail.

One of the key benefits of Accuvit is that we can quickly show you who among your reps are using keywords and who are not. A side benefit is that you can see exactly what your best reps are doing – and saying.

After one month on Accuvit, leaders at one of our client companies noticed that their best salespeople were not the ones using the most keywords. When they looked at the transcripts, they also noticed that they were not sticking to the call guide. So they took a gamble and rewrote the guide to better mirror the tactics used by the best reps.

The results were astonishing. The close rate increased 41 percent when reps used the new script versus the old one, yet the managers wouldn’t have known to change the script had they not seen the stark contrast.

What would you do for a 40 percent increase in win rates? Here’s our answer: stop focusing on call quantity.

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Tips for Successful Sales Hiring and Onboarding

LeeSalzToday’s guest post is by Lee B. Salz, a results-driven sales management consultant and author of Hire Right, Higher Profits: The Executive’s Guide to Building a World-Class Sales Force. Contact him at or 763/416-4321.


In most organizations, if a new idea is proposed that costs $25,000 to implement, blue-ribbon panels are commissioned, meetings are held, and a decision is ultimately made. After all, the company is considering a significant investment. When a company is hiring a salesperson at a salary of $25,000, however, there isn’t nearly the same level of due diligence performed, yet the cost is the same.

Companies with highly profitable sales teams don’t search for great salespeople. Their quest is to find the right salespeople with the potential to be great on their sales teams. While this distinction may seem subtle, its impact is not.

This quest begins with a 360-degree analysis of the role to determine the factors that impact performance. Once all of those factors are identified, an evaluation program is put in place to contrast candidates with those performance factors. Now, instead of looking across the desk wondering if this candidate is a "great seller,” you’re looking for synergy (or recognizing the lack thereof) between the candidate and the needs of the role.

But a role analysis is just one piece of the puzzle. Onboarding is much more than completing new-hire paperwork and getting the salesperson's office ready to go. When it comes to successful onboarding, start by identifying your objectives and expectations of your new hires. Those expectations are identified in the context of what I call KNOW-DO-USE

1. What should new salespeople KNOW?

KNOW refers to such information as product knowledge and territory analysis.

2. What should they be able to DO?

DO refers to actions, such as conducting sales calls or delivering a corporate presentation.

3. What should they be able to USE?

USE refers to tools or systems, such as a customer relationship management or order management system. 

KNOW-DO-USE provides the framework to identify the desired onboarding outcomes. With that framework, the onboarding curriculum is designed to lead the new salespeople to this finish line.

How do you know when new hires are meeting expectations? Use quizzes, a final exam, and simulations to ensure proficiency has been achieved. If a new salesperson does not meet your documented expectations, there is an opportunity to protect the company by ending the investment early. 

In essence, the worst mistake a company can make is to hire salespeople. Adding head count to a sales team should be viewed as an investment made in revenue. Recognizing that this is an investment is a critical first step toward driving sales-team profitability.

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The Best Advice I Learned from Top Sales 2.0 Conference Speakers

Joanne BlackToday's guest post is by Joanne Black, America’s leading authority on referral selling and author of NO MORE COLD CALLING™ and Pick Up the Damn Phone!: How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal. Connect with her at or call her at 415.461.8763


This month I talked to a number of speakers who will deliver presentations at the Sales 2.0 Conference on April 27 and 28 in San Francisco. What did I learn? Here are the five takeaways you need to know if want to create a successful sales future for yourself.

Takeaway #1 from Tiffani Bova“Current sales metrics don’t match the buyer’s journey.” 

Ever watch a bouncing ball? It goes from one side to another, up and down, and all around. It's tough to follow. That's the digital buyer. These prospects come into the sales process at different stages and go bouncing around, collecting new information and shifting their focus back and forth.

Yet, salespeople are still measured on legacy metrics, as if customers start with zero knowledge of us. Reps are measured on calls made, social touches generated, and emails sent. “But legacy metrics don't work anymore,” says Tiffani Bova, “because the digital buyer is no longer linear.”

Tiffani will discuss other dangers sales organizations face in her presentation, “Who's in Control of the Sales Process? The Customer!”

Takeaway #2 from Matt Heinz: “Sales operations should be a marketing function, not sales.” 

When Matt Heinz offered this advice, I thought it was another case of marketing trying to take over sales –- until he pointed out that sales teams boost productivity by better utilizing marketing resources. He explained, “Sales operations has evolved into sales enablement –- which should be handled by a group that can systematize and scale the repeatable tasks that are essential to sales.”

Then salespeople can focus on what they do best: Building one-to-one relationships.

Matt will suggest other time-savers in “How Sales Operations Can Double Your Sales Team's Productivity.”

Takeaway #3 from Patricia Fripp: “No matter how experienced you are, you can’t ‘wing’ a sales presentation.” 

Prospects don't care about you. They don’t want to hear how great your product is or how long you’ve been in business. They're only interested in what you can do for them. Those answers require research and practice.

Patricia Fripp says salespeople should spend at least 30 minutes rehearsing and personalizing every client presentation. “People get cocky,” she told me. “They’ve been selling for years, so they think they can wing it. No way. When all things are equal, your presentation determines whether you win or lose.”

Don’t miss her breakout session, “Superstar Sales Presentations: The Inside Secrets.”

Takeaway #4 from Michael Nick and Drew Wright"When prospects won’t decide, walk away.” 

You've already "spent" your commission. Now the customer says he's not moving forward, with you or anyone else. Losing to “no decision” is even more embarrassing than losing to a competitor. You’ve committed to a forecast, and now you have to backpedal with your sales manager.

Michael Nick and Drew Wright will demonstrate the cost of waiting in their breakout session, “Overcoming No Decision.”

Their caution: If you’re hemorrhaging dollars, get out early. If you expect a delay, make a go/no-go decision.

Takeaway #5 from Jamie Shanks, Kurt Shaver, and Anneke Seley: “The most important component of social selling is marketing.” ­ 

I had serious doubts about this advice from Jamie Shanks. Then he explained how a marketing-driven social media outreach helped him create a referral network of advocates and influencers.

As Jamie said, “LinkedIn is a tool that enables social selling. It’s not social selling. It’s the medium.” Jamie will share his secrets on the “Generating Revenue Using Social Selling” panel, alongside Kurt Shaver and Anneke Seley.

Kurt agrees that marketing should drive social selling. Everyone has to publish content now, including sales. But instead of creating new content, he says salespeople should focus on sharing content from marketing. “Marketing is staffed, trained, and authorized to create content on the company’s behalf.”

Anneke points out that because social selling is new territory, many sales leaders don’t see its value. Without the right motivation and compensation package, reps won’t follow the plan. “Managers will just be adding one more thing to their day,” she explains. “All the training in the world won’t make a difference until their peers start getting results.”

Anneke says to stay for their panel. Cocktails follow.

Thought leaders aren’t supposed to rehash the same old ideas. They’re supposed to add something new to the conversation. I learned tons from these thought leaders, and I look forward to learning more at the Sales 2.0 Conference on April 27-28 in San Francisco. As a guest blogger, I’ll share more words of wisdom throughout the event. Hope to see you there!



How to Evolve Your Sales Process

19192c8Today’s guest post is by Bill Butler, CEO of Journey Sales.




How can sellers take control of today’s sales cycle?

Today’s buyer is well educated, always connected, and likely to move in any direction at any time. So why are sellers relying on a one-size-fits-all sales process built around CRM systems?

The CRM system is a management tool for internal reporting, and it’s not agile enough to handle an evolved sales process – it’s like a football team using one play all season long. We often guess or interpret buyer activity, but to drive an effective sales process, we need actual data on buyer behavior.

At Journey Sales, we decided CRM needed some help. By adding our Smart Rooms to Salesforce, we allow companies to engage customers in a secure and personalized space that’s available 24/7. Once the sales team invites a buyer into a room, buyers can do the following:

Work independently or with sales, invite colleagues, and collaborate. These personalized experiences support the buyer’s entire journey.

Access relevant content that delivers powerful insight. Many buyers prefer thought-leadership content early in the sales process. Toward the middle of the process, they want product differentiators. At the end, they want proposals. You can nurture the customer’s Smart Room with content to increase insight and engagement.

Stay in touch with sales. Sellers get real-time alerts when a customer enters a Smart Room. This way, sellers can review the customer’s “digital body language” to increase engagement. Compare the engagement index across multiple opportunities to improve predictability.

The new sales process is about delivering powerful insight to everyone involved in a decision. More than five people, on average, participate in a B2B purchase decision, so consensus building is critical. Smart Rooms are designed for closing deals, but they benefit the entire customer life cycle:

  • Acquisition – close more new customers

  • Expansion – improve new-product introduction and cross sell

  • Onboarding – effectively share best practices to drive customer success

  • Retention – continue education and engagement to improve retention

Companies need a sales process that consistently and predictably grows revenue. Engaging the buyer along the buyer’s journey is the new sales playbook. Take control of your sales cycle so you can turn average reps into star performers, successfully launch new products, and drive predictable sales growth across the entire organization.

You can learn more about Smart Rooms by going to, or visit the Salesforce AppExchange.

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How Baseball Can Make You a Better Seller

GarciaGlover_200Today’s guest post is by Garcia Glover, managing partner at Axle Sales Partners LLC, a sales-training company that helps organizations build high-performing sales teams by arming their salespeople with the proprietary Axle 60/20/20 Sales Approach™.


As a 20-year, business-to-business, outside sales practitioner, and now as managing partner for a sales-training company, I often find myself using baseball analogies in my sales “pitches.”

That’s probably because sales and baseball are what I know most. A baseball scholarship paid my way through college, and I was a college coach for a number of years. I started in professional sales selling copiers door-to-door before everyone had a cell phone – hell, before everyone had a pager. (You may be asking, “What’s a pager?”) But before you dismiss me as old and out of touch with today’s selling environment, let it be known that my last full-time sales job was in 2011, selling for a large multimedia company.

I’ve used many baseball analogies in sales over the years, and my favorite is this: selling, like baseball, is a team sport played by individuals. In baseball, an opposing batter hits the ball to the fence, then the outfielder picks up the ball and throws it to a teammate. That player in turn throws it to another teammate standing at a base. Now that’s great teamwork! When that same outfielder goes up to bat one-on-one with the pitcher, however, the team can’t help.

Selling is the same: the sales team can be supportive in many ways, but when a rep is one-on-one with a buyer, the team can’t help.

Recently, my thinking about sales and baseball has gone deeper than analogies when I started looking deeply at the parallels between my baseball experiences and selling. My new thought process began when a sales prospect asked, “Your sales training isn’t elementary, is it?” My immediate response was no. Later, I began to wonder what she meant by “elementary” and what would be wrong if it were. I thought back to my coaching days and remembered that players had to constantly work on the “elementary” fundamentals to become better ballplayers.

So why are salespeople (and managers) reluctant to work on the so-called elementary aspects that are fundamental to their sales game?

Maybe it’s because we in sales have become so enamored with 50,000-foot views, technology, big data, complex processes, and systems that we’ve lost focus and don’t have time to work on the simple stuff that really makes and keeps us successful. In baseball, we used an acronym, ACES, which we recited at practice to remind the ballplayers about what it takes to get better. ACES is simple and straightforward and proved to be effective:  

Attitude: Your attitude is what you bring to everything. Maintain a positive attitude, because it’s what enables you to get up (no matter how many times you’ve been knocked down).

Confidence: This isn’t swagger. It’s the silent, inner confidence you build by knowing that you’ve done everything possible to prepare for and win the game.

Execution: This is the planned approach you take to achieve peak performance. The key is to set goals and have an executable plan to reach those goals.

Skill: Skill has nothing to do with talent. Skill refers to the acknowledgement of your strengths and weaknesses. Exploit your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses until they become strengths through learning and dedicated work.

ACES can apply to any vocation, especially sales. I had no idea that my experience as a baseball coach and player would make me a better seller. So my advice for anybody in sales is this: Don’t lose focus on the elementary stuff, no matter where it comes from, because it could possibly make you better.

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Four Key Elements of an Effective Sales-Leadership Vision

Norman BeharToday’s guest post is by Norman Behar, CEO of the Sales Readiness Group, an industry leading sales training company that helps Fortune 500 companies develop and deliver customized sales and sales-management training programs. Follow Norman on Twitter: @NormanBehar.


It’s very important for sales managers to develop strong leadership skills. Why? Sales organizations that cultivate good leaders are typically better able to do the following:

  • transition star sales reps into high-performing sales managers,
  • identify and respond to revenue challenges earlier rather than later,
  • recognize and replicate key sales behaviors that lead to revenue results. 

(For more insight on how to achieve these results in your own organization, download a free copy of my white paper, Developing Great Frontline Sales Managers.)

Do sales managers need to be charismatic to become great leaders? Not necessarily. In fact, people often assume that charisma is a more important quality than it really is. Although charismatic people might be able to inspire others for a period of time, leaders will not have staying power unless they can combine that charisma with a number of other, more substantial qualities.

For example, all great leaders possess a dream or a vision. Think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his “I Have a Dream” speech. This speech outlined a very powerful vision, and it helped generate an equally powerful momentum that propelled the Civil Rights Movement forward.

Whether you’re naturally charismatic or not, you can develop a winning vision for the future and learn to articulate that vision in an inspiring way. Every sales leader should know where his or her organization is headed over the next six to 24 months. When developing your plan for success, keep these four key elements in mind:

Four Key Elements of a Great Sales Vision

  1. The vision must be future focused.
  2. The vision must be challenging but achievable.
  3. The vision must acknowledge the current situation and provide a clear portrait of what success will look like.
  4. The vision must align with organizational goals.

Watch my video interview below with Selling Power founder Gerhard Gschwandtner to learn specific examples of how you can formulate and apply a winning leadership vision. 

What is your sales leadership vision for your organization, and how did you develop it? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

For more insight from Norman Behar and the Sales Readiness Group, check out his white paper, Developing Great Frontline Sales Managers.

How to Get the Best Results from a Sales Territory Plan

Ron Snyder 7-11 A crop 2Today’s guest post is by Ron Snyder, president of Plan2Win Software.




What is the optimal way to manage your sales territories? Here are seven steps sales leaders can use to get the best results from each sales territory.

1. Establish a process.

Determine how you plan to establish and monitor the progress of territory plans each quarter. A clear progression of action steps helps each member of the team understand what’s expected as the quarter unfolds. This includes having territory managers

  • create and update territory plans

  • and review the plans at the regional and then national levels.

Support, marketing, and other functions should be included in review sessions as appropriate.

In addition, the process must include steps to maintain continuity from quarter to quarter, such as working on territory, account, and opportunity plans that take longer than one quarter to implement.

For more details on the implementation of the process across the quarter, see our manager’s checklist for territory planning.

2. Review significant trends in your territories and vertical markets in the past quarter or year.

  • What are the key trends driving your business?

  • What are the characteristics of your top prospects and customers?

  • Are there market segments, customers, or products that you could focus on that would significantly accelerate your sales?

  • Are there a few special issues with which your team is struggling (for example, a new competitive offering or regulatory requirement)?

3.  Set goals for the quarter or year.

Identify your most important goals across your area of responsibility, either by region, territory, or vertical market. These could include the following:

  • Overall sales, revenue increases, or sales of specific products

  • New customer acquisition

  • Growth in an existing customer base

  • Vertical-market or product-specific objectives

4.  Review territory alignments.

Make sure each goal is appropriately allocated based on last year’s results and updated projections.

  • Assign or reassign accounts based on revenue potential.

  • Identify pockets of new opportunities.

  • Consider new ways to focus on specific vertical markets or industry segments.

  • Determine and assign quotas for each territory.

  • Negotiate and finalize quota, territory, and account assignments.

5.  Help each territory manager and salesperson create individual territory plans.

  • Set territory-specific goals, including quota and the objectives required to achieve quota. Examples of objectives may include increasing account share by a certain percentage, selling a new product, or penetrating a new market segment.

  • Establish strategies and tactics to respond to key trends uncovered in your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis.

  • Identify target accounts and opportunities, and create specific strategies and tactics for each.

  • Focus on potential key partners, ranging from corporate strategic partners to local partners to noncompetitive salespeople in the territory.

  • Generate an action plan, including activities to implement each strategy and tactic. For example, decide with whom you’ll meet and what you’ll do to implement the strategy to penetrate a new target market.

6.  Link the plan to your sales strategy.

Consider how each individual plan works to accomplish its part of the team’s goals.

  • Leverage good ideas across the team. One best practice is to gather ideas from each territory manager and plan, and ask territory managers to share new ideas that are producing good results.

  • Provide guidance to the group on common issues.

  • Allocate resources to top priority accounts and opportunities.

7.  Execute action plans.

Ensure each territory manager and salesperson has created an action plan and is actively working on his or her plan.

The regional manager should review territory plans with territory managers early in the quarter.

Executives should review each regional plan and gain visibility into critical accounts and opportunities gathered from territory plans. In addition, sales managers should be sure to do the following:

  • monitor progress in weekly pipeline reviews and other meetings,

  • update strategies for top accounts and opportunities,

  • ensure critical accounts and opportunities have the resources they need.

Finally, regional managers and/or company executives should be available to participate in critical customer interactions and meetings.

When you plan your territories correctly, you plan to win. To quote the legendary college football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, “It is not the will to win that matters. Everyone has that. It is the will to prepare to win that matters.”

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Six Things You Need to Know about Millennial Sales Reps


Josiane feigon

Today’s guest post is by Josiane Feigon, president of TeleSmart Communications and author of Smart Selling on the Phone and Online. The insight in this blog post is taken from the “15 in 2015 Inside Sales Trend Report.”   



Millennials are taking over in the sales profession. In just five years, this generation will make up 46 percent of the entire US workforce. Here are six characteristics of Millennials that inside sales managers should know. 

1. They overshare.

Millennials value their community at work. That explains why the open-office phenomenon is so popular and why 88 percent of Millennials want their co-workers to be their friends. The flip side of this is oversharing. Too much or inappropriate information can destroy trust and a collaborative atmosphere. Don’t let oversharing tendencies run wild in your department. Establish the expectation that yours is a friendly office, not an overly social one. 

2. They value engagement with their parents.

Know that you might be competing with your Millennial sales rep’s parent for influence. Consider the following:

  • Baby boomers were often helicopter parents for Millennials.
  • Some high-profile employers have instituted “bring your parents to work” days.
  • I’ve talked with sales managers who have noticed Millennial reps regularly consulting with their parents about career moves.
  • I even have a few friends who regularly do their kids’ homework . . . in college!

As an inside sales manager, don’t play into the Millennials’ fear of failure by being an always-present authority figure ready to swoop in and tell them exactly how to get things done. Encourage a learning environment where their experience is valuable and their insight is welcomed. This will help as you push them to sell on their own. 

3. They can easily become confused about how they get paid.

According to Vorsight and The Bridge Group, three out of every 10 reps reported being unclear about their incentive compensation plan, which correlates to a 300 percent drop in employee engagement. Considering how motivation – or the lack thereof – is contagious on the sales floor, insides sales managers need to pay attention to this trend. Outline incentives clearly and make sure reps easily grasp the basics of how the incentive plan works.

4. They might blur the boundaries between employee and manager.

Pew Research revealed that, compared to previous generations, most Millennials have low trust in authority figures. The same study shows that Millennials prefer an environment that allows them to interact informally with peers and their bosses. A recent LinkedIn internal study also reported that one in three Millennials have texted their boss outside of work for non-work-related reasons, compared to only 10 percent of the boomer generation.

As a result, many Millennials find hierarchical relationships to be uncomfortable or foreign. Make sure you set the standard for what’s appropriate and what’s not. Be friendly, and be clear that you’re the boss.

5. They fear negative feedback.

I find that managers complain that they are constantly badgered by their team members to mentor more, coach more, acknowledge more, and reward more, but when they reach out unrehearsed and unplanned with some critiques, their reps panic. What’s the deal with these double standards? 

High-maintenance Millennials can be very fearful of rejection, fueling both 1) need for constant feedback and 2) a fear of rejection. In other words, they want to hear lots of encouraging things and few critical ones. This might be because helicopter parents prevented them from experiencing and bouncing back from failure.

Avoid this high-maintenance minefield by making sure you telegraph your feedback meetings way ahead of time and surround all criticism with positive messages. 

6. They can go quickly from little angels to little monsters.

“They interviewed so well, everyone liked them . . . and then after a few months, something happened.” I get this comment from sales managers a lot. Their young new hires seem to be starting out so well, then out comes their wrecking ball!

When high-maintenance Millennials experience something upsetting, such as a breakup or a lost deal, it can affect their work, possibly more so than with employees from other age brackets. With their “friends are co-workers” mentality, Millennials can have an impossible time focusing on work when they’re pouring out their feelings to their office neighbors.

These types of employees need to know that, when they’re at work, they must focus on work. If you’re calm, cool, and an honest – but tough – professional, the rest of the team will admire you for stepping in to reign in a bad influence without breathing fire and getting authoritarian.

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How to Run a Sales Contest

AdamHollander_300Today's guest post is by Adam Hollander, CEO of FantasySalesTeam.




Over the last year and a half at FantasySalesTeam, we’ve helped companies run hundreds of sales contests. A few weeks ago, Joe Goss, one of our client success managers and our resident Excel guru, took it upon himself to examine data generated from 164 games among our 100-plus clients, mostly inside sales teams. The sales teams were as small as four reps and as large as 2,800 reps. What he found about motivation is worth sharing.

Lesson #1: Run your sales contest for one to two months.

Having spent my entire career in sales and sales management, I’ve participated in and run my fair share of sales contests. Some run for a week, others for a year. So what’s the average length for a sales contest?


According to our findings, the average game length was 44 days, while the median was 31, showing that most of our clients are running sales contests for one to two months at a time. We advise customers to reset periodically by stopping one game and then starting a new one with new metrics, goals, awards, etc. This gives players who may have fallen behind a chance to start fresh. Also, this cadence allows sales managers change metrics and point values to align with their most current and pressing goals and metrics.

Lesson #2: Balance activity metrics with results metrics.

We tell every FantasySalesTeam customer to balance games between activity/behavior metrics (e.g., calls, meetings, pipeline) and results metrics (e.g., revenue or percentage of quota). This helps level the playing field to ensure that traditional top performers aren’t winning every time. In our analysis, we found a fairly good balance, with 61 percent of the metrics being activity based versus 39 percent results based. 


The majority of our customers run inside sales teams, which are highly metrics driven. We found that many of our customers (15 percent) are measuring phone activity at almost twice the rate of other activity not related to the phone (8 percent), such as meetings or proposals. More importantly, pipeline is the top activity metric being measured (31 percent) and aligns well with our advice that pipeline metrics are the most important to focus on in a sales contest.


A number of our clients also incorporate bonus-point metrics into their games to increase the motivation factor. We pulled out some we liked best:

  • Best Team Picture
  • Random Acts of Kindness
  • Sales on a Saturday
    And our favorite…
  • Number of Songs Sung to Customers

Lesson #3: Reward reps with experiences (not cash or prizes).

Based on general feedback that we’ve received from reps over the last two years – and we’ve talked to a lot of them – we recommend customers focus on giving experiences rather than physical prizes. Experiences tend to be less expensive, and more importantly, reps tend to remember them a lot more than they do a new TV or camera.


When we broke down the 393 different prizes (grouping together items such as cash or gift cards), we found that 53 percent could be classified as experiences, while 47 percent were physical items. (By the way, 73 percent of the physical items were cash, allowing winners to choose their own reward).

Here are some other motivation best practices for sales teams to consider.

  • Leverage team competition. Team-based games and incentives get players (reps) pushing and relying on each other and are far more effective than individual-based contests.
  • Create multiple ways to win. When you have only one way to win the incentive, inevitably players fall behind or out of contention. Create multiple paths to win and succeed to keep the team engaged longer.
  • Update results frequently. The more often you update the results from your contest, the more engaged your reps will be. Better yet, tie the contest directly to your customer relationship management or call-center management system so the results update automatically!
  • Make results highly visible. Ensure that the contest results and updates are front and center. Send out regular notifications, and display leaderboards throughout the office, ideally on TV screens.
  • Hold a proper kickoff. Don’t just launch the contest through an email blast. Get everyone together in a room or through a call/Web meeting and showcase the structure, prizes, etc. Make sure there’s real excitement on day one.
  • Get managers engaged. If managers are paying attention to the contest results, they will make sure their reps are paying attention. Find ways to engage the managers and ensure they are invested in the reps’ success.
  • Measure, measure, measure. The point of a sales contest or incentive is not just to have fun or increase engagement but to drive improved results and activity. Make sure you know how you’re going to measure success so you can prove the return on investment and have the ability to do it again!

For more information on FantasySalesTeam, visit or

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How to Create a Knowledge-Based Sales Process

Brian Dietmeyer Today’s guest post is by Brian Dietmeyer, president and CEO of Think! Inc. and 5600blue.



Does your sales process provide salespeople with the knowledge they need to win the short-term competitive advantage?

The paradox of today’s world is that long-term growth is actually driven by your sales team’s response to rapid, short-term changes. In her book, The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business, Columbia Business School professor Rita Gunther McGrath argues that the sustainable competitive advantage is quickly disappearing. Instead, business leaders learn to compete on a series of short-term competitive advantages.

Speed is the name of the game now, and most sales teams are not equipped to keep pace. Changes are occurring so rapidly that salespeople need rapid knowledge. Consider the following scenarios that call for agile responses and a real-time knowledge base.

  1. Your value proposition changes due to a new acquisition, divestiture, or new product/service.

  2. Your sales strategy changes, with emphasis on a new pricing or service model or ideal customer profile.

  3. Your competitors’ value proposition changes due to a new acquisition, divestiture, or new product/service.

  4. Your customers’ needs shift due to regulatory or geopolitical events. 

Legacy CRM, marketing strategies, and sales-training solutions do little to provide salespeople with real-time knowledge. For example, consider how these three tools are no longer supporting sales teams the way they used to.


American Management Association reports that 90 percent of what sales is getting from marketing is not being used. Marketing/product management needs to replace generic feature/benefit statements with real-time messaging and a knowledge base that reflects the rapid shifts in sales strategy, value propositions, and customer needs.


In this SlideShare presentation, “Improving Sales in a Brave New World,” James Rogers points out that 74 percent of organizations report low adoption of CRM. The fact is, CRM systems need to be turned upside down. Instead of using technology to ask salespeople to fill out forms, use technology to deliver competitive knowledge that salespeople can use to stay ahead of rapid changes in the market.


American companies spend $16 billion annually on sales training; CSO Insights reports that 70 percent of that learning is gone within 30 days. Make the shift from generic process and sales methodology to a knowledge-based approach that gives salespeople real-time data that allows them to compete at the speed of change. Salespeople also need to be trained in how to leverage knowledge in customer conversations rather than how to execute methodology.

5600blue has introduced the first-ever vertically integrated sales-enablement solution that builds a knowledge base that tracks with current changes at every phase of the sales process. The technology houses, distributes, and updates knowledge in formats salespeople can use (Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and email) and enablement in the form of sales training, deal coaching, and win/loss reviews.

This knowledge aligns with every step of the sales process and helps salespeople

  1. qualify customers and make pursuit decisions in line with shifting management priorities regarding what an ideal prospect looks like,

  2. understand market trends to gain access and add value to the executive- level customer,

  3. lead the customer’s buying process.

This knowledge also enables salespeople to leverage value throughout the sales process. For example, we know from 12 years of win/loss reviews among deals collectively worth $20 billion that winners win when they show customers how they meet their needs at higher probability and lower risk than the alternatives. We also know from our primary research that more than 85 percent of companies say they can’t deliver that knowledge to salespeople in real time.

Similarly, we know that 97 percent of buyer negotiation tactics follow predictable patterns. 5600blue puts knowledge in the hands of salespeople in advance of the negotiation to change that conversation early on.

The biggest changes in selling in the last 25 years are occurring right now.  This shift is driven by the digital revolution, which puts much more information in the hands of buyers and competitors. Start taking steps today to equip your salespeople with the knowledge they need to compete in the short term so that your team can win in the long term.

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