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Published: Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Some time ago, I consulted with a company that prided itself on its sales-centric positioning. Truth be told, all for-profit companies should be sales-centric, but that’s a story for another day.

One of the processes they used struck me as particularly odd. Every month, they sent out “Sales Results” from their 37 sales centers. They highlighted the top 10, as many companies do, but they also highlighted the bottom 10. For the top 10, employees, senior management, and ownership congratulated the winners for the exceptional work they did. The bottom 10 were highlighted for the opposite purpose: public shaming.

When Good Selling Goes Bad

Over the course of my work, I watched the process and I watched the results. I quickly noticed the top 10 sales centers rarely, rarely changed. Oh, number 1 might slip to number 2, or number 7 might jump to number 5, but the composition of the top 10 held constant. The same thing happened in the bottom 10, especially the further down the list you went. Number 36 and number 37 battled viciously with each other, as neither wanted to be in last place.

With all the effort being pushed out to increase sales, especially given the focus the bottom 10 received, I would have thought the company would see more dramatic change. Something was amiss.

So, I did something rather counterintuitive — but, now that I look back on it, thoroughly logical — and asked a manager who was also the leader of one of the top 3 sales centers:


“Chris, can you tell me why it is that you’re always in the top 3 in terms of sales centers and their results and why Matt and Darlene are always battling it out for the bottom two spots?’

He laughed. “Sure,” he said, “If I help them, who’s on the bottom then?”

Competition is a great thing. It has some drawbacks, though, which we need to ensure our systems and processes do not embrace and magnify.


REX CASTLE is a co-founder at friendsTED. He has over 3 decades of human resources, training, public speaking and slide design experience. He also has published 3 books:

  1. Selecting the Brass Ring: How to hire really happy, really smart people (and pay them really well)(the complete work),
  2. Why not WOW? Reaching for the spectacular presentation, and a parable of his complete work,
  3. The Brass Ring: How to hire really happy really smart people (and pay them really well).

His passion is working with organizations to increase ROI through creative and replicable models for everything from hiring to leadership to presentation. He is a strategic thinker, thought provoking facilitator and exceptional business partner.Rex is employed in the technology industry where he is responsible for social media, online help systems, online training systems and assisting the sales professionals in their presentations and slide design. He also has years and years of experience in the manufacturing and finance industries. He is well-traveled and has lived in numerous areas across the United States, but calls Lubbock home and spends most of his spare time with his first grandchild, reading, and enjoys woodworking. 

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