Salespeople are competitive by nature. They thrive on the constant competition and the race to the finish line. If you can create an environment that allows them to tap into that competitive nature by using KPIs to their advantage, you’ll watch your best salespeople multiply their results right before your eyes.

In the age of instant messaging, instant likes and instant feedback, it only makes sense that your workplace KPIs should be keeping pace. And making KPIs public in the office can indeed feed this competitive nature of your employees, while also keeping everyone engaged and on task.

The downside is that, when used ineffectively, KPIs can actually de-motivate employees. Studies have shown that extrinsic motivators (e.g., bonuses and prizes) tied to performance are fantastic motivators for mechanical tasks, but do the opposite for more creative tasks.

So, how can you fully utilize KPIs in the workplace to reward your employees but still motivate them to the highest of their potential? Let’s take a look at the science to see how to balance KPIs and competition in order to get the most out of your sales team:

Success Seeking and Rewards

When the task at hand is largely mechanical, a conditional reward (e.g., if an individual makes X calls, individual receives X bonus) is, for the most part, encouraging. Tap into your salespeople’s competitive natures further by giving continuous updates on progress and performance. Seeing KPIs steadily increase on a visual screen in real-time will provide continuous feedback, further motivating a competitive individual. Plus, being able to directly eye up competitors that are at the top of the leaderboard will inspire even the most lethargic of salespeople.

Furthermore, if KPIs are updated and displayed instantly, individuals will also be able to identify their shortcomings and quickly pick up the slack. Corrections can be made in a split second, rather than waiting until the end of the week, month or quarter to make adjustments. This means quicker results and more sales.

The Power of Competition and Games

Where tasks require a higher level of cognition, the science tells us that simply upping the reward doesn’t garner the results you’d expect. In fact, it can be strangely de-motivating. Check out the results from the famous Candle Problem study if you’re a skeptic.

Adding in an intrinsic motivator can be crucial to keeping your workplace KPIs looking sharp, particularly for more creative tasks. If you can inspire true enjoyment in a task (e.g., a fun game), or an eagerness to master the task (e.g., winning a daily category), a salesperson’s motivation skyrockets.

Having a state-of-the-art visual KPI system will make sales calls seem more like a video game than a daily task. Also, colleagues competing over categories will engage with each other, celebrate their wins and ultimately enjoy their days at the office that much more.

Tapping into something deeper, such as pure enjoyment, can make a huge difference when motivating employees in a sales environment.

Better Engagement in the Workplace

Continuous, visual KPI updates will create talking points, and colleagues will be more likely to chat with each other in a constructive, work-focused manner. Constant updates will also encourage focus and intensity on the tasks at hand, tips will be shared more freely, and rapport will build naturally as colleagues congratulate each other and engage in each other’s work.

This engagement creates an organic company culture that emerges naturally, without the need to externally impose a set of values, and will encourage an interactive and energetic sales team that’s sure to have huge success.