The other day I ran into this article from Harvard Business Review, Motivating Salespeople: What Really Works.
This bit caught my eye:
[To know how to best motivate reps,] the first step for any company is to get a clear understanding of its own performance curve. Ideally, this would be done through sophisticated econometric methods, but an approximation can be obtained as follows:
If you simply calculate each salesperson’s performance against sales targets and then create a histogram of those data.
I loved the advice to chart your own performance curve as an easy-to-digest, visual representation of current state.
But honestly, who here has the time & inclination to build out a histogram to see their performance curve?
Being intrigued, I did it for you.
Why this matters!
The authors provide several tactics for motivating reps that require understanding your company’s curve as a first step.
- Are you “normal”? Roughly 20% A, 60% B & 20% C
- Are you star-or-laggard heavy?
You no doubt have a gut feel for who your stars are, but have you objectively assessed how many A, B & C players you really have?
Again, from the article:
We’ve reported here on research that reveals that salespeople at different points on the performance curve will respond to different incentives, and we hope that managers will think about the implications.
So before you design your next incentive, contest or comp plan, take 90 seconds and be sure you know the makeup of the group you’re designing it for.
What you can do?
Use this Sales Team Histogram Generator (.xlsx) to see the shape of your group’s performance curve. I’ve included two tabs:
- a sample sheet with normal distribution (20/60/20)
- a blank sheet for your use
I hope this exercise give you a slightly different view of your team. And, perhaps, new ideas for motivation will stem from new perspective. Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments.