A lot of companies rely on competition to motivate their sales and marketing teams around important initiatives. But here’s something that they might not even realize: With an added dose of friendly competition comes increased employee collaboration. In fact, a properly executed strategy has the power to facilitate coaching and learning among employees and help socialize new hires, while increasing both peer-to-peer and peer-to-manager collaboration.
Here are four ways you can not only recognize that increased communication, but make the most of it:
Displaying leaderboards is key to any successful attempt to optimize performance in your business. They create visibility in a way that opens opportunity for coaching and learning between sales teams and individual reps. We see it often: When your reps can see their rankings in real time, they’re motivated to figure out how the top performer is staying at the top. The best way to find out the leader’s secret to success? Ask.
Sometimes that visibility inspires sales reps to go to their leaders for coaching, too. When one rep at The Monterey Company saw they were at the bottom of the leaderboard, they knocked on the door of the company’s president and asked for sales advice. As they took that advice to strengthen their ranking in the competition, they strengthened their sales abilities, too.
Any leader wishes their team collaborated more together to share best practices, and this is especially true when it comes to onboarding new salespeople. Greater collaboration will lead to increased confidence in pitching your solutions, and gets everyone working as a team to raise your collective game. So the question becomes, how can you get that going? Leveraging competition among the newest reps on your team motivates them to not only start performing, but asking each other questions and working together to find the most effective ways to sell at your company.
The sales leaders at Cardinal Health can attest to this. They decided to run a competition around new sales opportunities with a recent new class of sales hires for two weeks to test the concept. They generated 570 new qualified sales opportunities as a result, which significantly surpassed anything they expected. In the process, not only did the participating new sales reps begin collaborating more, but the offices they represented (in Alabama, Michigan and Louisiana) increased communication among the offices. The fun banter and natural recognition that often come with competition had everyone communicating.
In today’s high-tech world, it’s important to give your reps opportunities to socialize in the company. These days, it seems like everyone is working remotely. That chance to be social with co-workers is even more important to break the isolation that often comes with being out of the office. When managers implement a company-wide sales contest, they motivate reps both in and out of the office to connect with each other.
Take Dyn, for example. Although the company is headquartered in New Hampshire, its sales team is split across North America and Europe. The company’s leadership implemented contests and noticed that collaboration between offices across the map suddenly increased. Yes, the competitions directly helped their bottom line by driving more qualified opportunities in their pipeline, but the leaderboards that tracked the contests facilitated company-wide bonding, too. Now reps who would have never gotten to know each other interact and collaborate on a daily basis.
Marketing teams are always running new initiatives to help fill the revenue pipeline—running new ad campaigns, supporting new product launches, sponsoring conferences or maybe even running their own customer conference. But that also means they’re held accountable to producing a revenue result from those investment, which means businesses need real alignment between marketing and sales who will take the leads that come from marketing and convert it into revenue. Workplace competitions help break down the silos that tend to rise between departments.
Take Interactive Intelligence, for example. They knew that driving customer attendance to their annual user conference was a crucial initiative for the entire business, since attendance typically leads to more knowledgeable customers, higher advocacy toward Interactive Intelligence’s offerings and greater customer retention. They ran a competition that gave the account management team points for each of their customers who registered. Marketing could plan and promote an amazing event, but the account management team are the ones who are talking to customers every day. Those “in the moment” discussions are the best way to invite a customer. It’s much more powerful than getting an email invitation. Because of the competition, the Interactive Intelligence team achieved 6x their attendance goal.
Employee-wide contests—especially those facilitated by software to automate the process—can help open the lines of communication between your team and its leaders, all resulting in a more collaborative, fluid company culture. It’s a pretty nice byproduct of a strategy that’s helping to grow your business too.
Bob Marsh is the CEO and Founder of Detroit-based startup LevelEleven. He has almost 20 years in sales and sales management, and played a key role in establishing HelloWorld as the dominant player in digital engagement solutions. In 2012, Bob launched LevelEleven, a company gamifying CRM with high-impact competitions, and introduced its flagship product, Compete, which has since seen incredible adoption. Within the first six months LevelEleven secured over 70 clients - including Comcast, Delta Airlines, the Detroit Pistons, and OpenTable. Bob is a thought-leader in the sales management and enterprise gamification space. A native Michigander, Bob is passionate about revitalizing Detroit and nurturing the startup ecosystem that has developed in the city.