We’re only at the sweet 16 and already March Madness has had its share of upsets. Those teams that weren’t expected to make it past the first round led to the downfall of many who picked the top performers to win their brackets. Though March Madness consists of the top 64 teams in the country, you can divide them into three tiers: the best of the best – those who have a legitimate shot to make it to the final four; the middle of the pack; and those that squeaked into the tournament.


This is where it breaks down. With the right incentive, in this case the championship, any team in any tier has the chance to win. It’s about the training they’ve had all season, the communication on and off the court, and the motivation to achieve a clear goal. Think about how #14 ranked Mercer beat #3 Duke in the first round.

Businesses can learn from sports. Metaphors aside, what if there were a way to motivate an entire salesforce rather than just the top performers? In fact, the top performers are already giving it their all; surprisingly, it may be those middle and lower tiers who can contribute an even bigger sales lift. Even those who are stack-ranked in the middle perform when given a goal that’s attainable and makes sense. Behavioral Economists refer to it as idiosyncratic fit.


Next time you’re designing a sales incentive rules structure, remember that Syracuse and Ohio State were taken down by Dayton, a team that hadn’t been in the spotlight in 30 years. Develop a program that is effective for your top performers as well as focuses on the middle and lower performers to sell more and keep everyone in the game.


As NPR’s Tom Goldman shared on Morning Edition, this year, it’s a “wide open tournament.” All teams can deliver when it counts. 


Whether you’re an athlete looking to cut down the nets, or a sales manager or rep looking for a  sales win, see new rules and strategies that will help you separate yourself from the middle of the pack and achieve top performance by downloading our article

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