Anyone who’s run a marathon (or even a half marathon) knows the hardest part is at the halfway mark, when you’re well past the start but nowhere near the end. And the easiest or the best part is the last mile. Suddenly as that finish line comes into view, there’s a burst of adrenaline that pushes you one last time and you run with all your might just to finish the race.

This is the goal gradient effect.

Goal Gradient effect is a psychological phenomenon that causes us to speed up as we approach our goal. In other words, the closer we get to our goal, the harder we work to achieve it faster. 

What this really means is that people are not as motivated by how far they have come, but rather how close they are to the end/their target.

Goal Gradient in marathon runners and sales

Goal Gradient Effect in Sales Teams

This powerful behavioral insight has some great applications in helping sales teams do better. 

The monthly sales cycle is much like a marathon and typically as the month-end approaches, sales reps intensify their efforts to just about make their targets. This sales skew causes sales leaders endless anxiety as they wait for the nail-biting finish each month.

However the goal gradient effect is not just a way to understand why sales skews are caused, they can actually even provide the solution.

3 ways to improve sales performance using Goal Gradient Effect

  1. Set intermittent goals: Breaking up a monthly target into smaller weekly intermittent goals helps reps sell more consistently. Reps will naturally intensify their efforts towards the end of each week to meet their goals, removing the month-end skew as sales get spread out throughout the month.

  2. Show progress regularly: Visual indicators of progress help reps keep track of their progress and literally see the end in sight – this helps them stay motivated and focussed on the task.

  3. Appreciate / celebrate regularly: worxogo’s Behavior Labs research has shown that managers who appreciate their teams 4 times a month or more see a marked improvement in team productivity. Managers who keep track of their teams performance throughout the month can ensure that appreciation happens through the sales cycle, ensuring their reps stay motivated and on track.

worxogo’s Nudge Coach uses visual cues to motivate reps to move towards their weekly goals. Managers receive nudges on whom to appreciate in their team and when, helping them stay on top of each seller’s individual performance. 

Using a range of behavior science concepts like the goal gradient effect, the Nudge Coach helps sales teams become more productive and improve their outcomes.

Read how a leading tyre company increased premium product sales by 10% using Goal-Gradient-Effects nudges.