August 31, 2015

When Did Publishing Sales Reports and Rankings Become Politically Incorrect?

I admit it. I’m confused. Maybe I skipped the sales leadership class the day “they” taught that publishing and distributing sales reports and rankings was no longer appropriate or politically correct sales management.

Don’t goals and results go hand in glove? Hasn’t business, and particularly sales, always been about hitting your numbers? Aren’t salespeople judged by the results they produce?

Since the beginning of time, healthy sales organizations have regularly published sales reports and rankings. Sales versus Last Year. Sales versus Goal. Rank of Salespeople by Percentage Increase over Goal or Last Year, and so on. This practice was never considered abusive or challenged as not being politically correct.

Publishing results by salesperson was a way of life and a reflection of two critical realities: First, that sales is all about results. And second, by nature, salespeople are competitive (at least the good ones are 🙂 ). I chuckle that I’m even having to write this post. The three top individual producers that I personally coach (individual clients who pay me out of their pocket) almost always start phone calls by talking about, and regularly send me emails showing, where they stand versus their peers. It’s who they are and what drives them!

Lately, I’ve come across a number of organizations that don’t distribute sales reports. These executive and sales leaders have their reasons and some even make a pretty good defense of their position. But I’m still troubled by it — mostly because I’ve yet to come across to a high-performance sales team with a healthy culture that wasn’t obsessed with, and constantly talking about, their goals and results. I’m sorry, but you cannot decouple a healthy high-performance sales culture from published, public sales reports.

True salespeople can’t wait to see the month-end and quarter-end reports. They can’t. Just like everyone in St. Louis and everyone in Pittsburgh (including and especially the teams themselves) is constantly checking the NL Central standings, members of healthy, competitive sales teams do the same. The Pirates are incredible this year. They. Will. Not. Go. Away. And you cannot tell me that the Pirates’ resilience is not driving the Cardinals harder. There is zero doubt that these teams are feeding off of each other and the competition has caused both teams to fight harder. Good luck trying to convince me that if the baseball standings were a big secret and the players were told just to “go out and do their best” that we wouldn’t see a drop in performance. That’s just plain silly. And so is trying to lead a sales team without the benefit of published sales reports.