You can learn a lot about a sales team by looking at one real indicator: Their Leader Boards.

Some teams have multiple boards taking up entire walls, some have outdated KPI lists in a back corner, and some teams “respect the salespeople’s privacy” and have none! The simple truth is the best sales teams have multiple, up-to-date leaderboards and they are valuable tools used by leaders and sellers alike.  

In her 2021 article, What Is a Type A Personality?, Kendra Cherry described many of the defining attributes of top sales professionals, many of whom would identify as being “Type-A”: Focused, Goal Oriented, Ambitious, High Achieving and Competitive. The leaderboard is an exceptional tool that helps leaders focus all of these traits to drive consistently strong performances. 

Leaders of top performers and top sales teams understand their people and they know how to leverage of the power of rankings and the impact those rankings have on each associate. They utilize the lists to bring accountability, drive the will to win, set higher goals, and develop behaviors for sustained high performance. 

Accountability 101 

Annually, quarterly, and even on a monthly basis, Sales Leaders are handed a myriad of goals, targets, focus points, standards, and expectations. On the ground, it is the frontline leader’s job to determine which KPI is greatest among equals, then relay that priority to the team in a meaningful way. Choosing which KPI to post on the leaderboard and which ones NOT to post sends important messages to the team. 

For example, by posting the team members’ close ratios in addition to their sales totals telegraphs a specific message. When that new list and the individual’s ranking are addressed in 1-on-1 coaching sessions, you have created a highly effective and objective accountability loop.  As I tell my clients, “We can discuss opinions, but first let’s agree on the facts”

Photo by Element5 Digital

Winners Want to Win 

Even before those 1-on-1’s, your top performers will recognize the new list – and their place on it! There will be two general reactions and it is our job to help get the best performances from both. One reaction will be defensiveness if they see their name in the middle (or dare I say at the bottom) of a performance board! With this response, you should first talk them down off the ledge, then work with them to develop strategy to get back “where you belong”! 

The other response is the recognition that change has once again come (and it could affect their compensation).  These associates are easiest to work with because they are ready and willing to address the issue. Make sure you give there associates all the time they need when they come to you for clarity and new goal setting. 

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Coaching To S.M.A.RT. Goals 

Whether you are working with top performers or those lower in the rankings, the various leader boards allow you to inspect what you expect vis-à-vis sales production. More importantly, leaderboards are the perfect tools for developing S.M.A.R.T. goals. They provide specificity of performance, and those performances are easily measured.  

Because lists can be segmented in any number of ways, performance goals can be customized for each sales associate. Depending on the associate and the situation, the person in the #4 position of a 10 person team can be in the Top Half, Top Third, Top 5, or can have the goal to crack the Top 3, First Quartile, etc.

It could be dispiriting and unproductive to leave an associate with the weak mandate to, “do better next quarter.” Both the leader and the associate are set up for failure. Alternately, sellers respond positively when coached to realistic and attainable goals: “To get back into the Top 10 on the leader board, let’s improve that close ratio 5 percentage points over the next quarter.”  

(Not So) Key Performance Indicators 

The strongest leaders will identify measurables that lead to great overall performance – but do not necessarily show up on the official scoreboard. These “Not-So-KPIs” usually identify behaviors that are not purely revenue producing activities. They recognize the grunt work or the intangibles that build great teams.  

This type of recognition can take many forms and address a variety of efforts: “Triple Threat Award” with a composite score of 3 KPIs, a “Dime Award” to associate with the most team assists, or the “Silver Shovel” for digging deep in the CRM for new business! Your team’s needs and your creativity are the only limits to the power of this type of leaderboard. 

Knowledge Is Power

When you walk into a sales office and you see a series of leaderboards displayed, you know for sure that you are with a team that cares about winning. When you look at the categories the leaderboards are tracking you see the focus and drive of the individual sellers on display. The way the leaders leverage those leaderboards is seen in the team’s overall performance and commitment to excellence! 


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