Using Competition to Drive the Performance of Your Sales Team

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Every business wants motivated employees – especially when it’s your salesforce. One way you can do that is by introducing some healthy competition into the workplace. To produce the best outcome, however, any such initiative needs to be well-thought-out and planned meticulously.

Competition, especially with a reward at the end, stretches people to go further. After all, everyone likes to think that they’re good at their job and no one likes to think that someone else can do it better. Sales professionals, in particular, tend to be competitive by nature, but when introducing competition into the sales force, you need to be careful too.

Healthy competition Vs unhealthy rivalry

As with any competition, there should be a reward for those individuals that excel, but don’t forget to reward for team engagement too. The primary focus should be on getting a collective increase in performance for the entire sales team, by having them pull together to create even better value for the company.

To do this, it’s necessary to understand the difference between healthy competition and unhealthy rivalry in the workplace. When everyone is out for themselves, people become selfish, stealing opportunities from others, and even sabotaging other team members. That’s the last thing you want. Instead, you should be looking to create a program that rewards exceptional performance, builds camaraderie and boosts morale.

How to get it right

Here are a few of things you can do and a few things you should try to avoid:

  • Contests shouldn’t be entirely revenue based. In fact, this can be detrimental to other areas of performance. Look at other KPIs, such as the time taken to follow up a lead or the time to move a prospect through the sales funnel.
  • Don’t let team members guess at how they and others are doing. Publish daily stats viewable by all, but avoid rankings, or ‘league tables’ that result in someone coming in last.
  • Rather than pitching person against person, or team against team, develop competitive initiatives that encourage people to challenge their own personal bests.
  • By teaming up pairs of sales people, ideally from different teams within the organisation, you can encourage collaboration and information sharing across the board. One idea might be to have each team do a presentation at the end of the month and have everyone vote on the winning team. This can boost morale right across the workforce.
  • Try to avoid any competitive mechanism that might lead to an individual or team feeling humiliated, or at risk of being replaced.

All for one and one for all

One approach doesn’t fit everyone. If it’s a first for your business, experiment with different types of contests, tracking the results and refining the structure to get the right balance between what your employees enjoy and what produces the optimal results.

Good sales people understand healthy competition and will use it for self-motivation, but not at the expense of others on their team. Most will use competition as a way to enrich their working lives and enjoy the company of their colleagues. When it’s done right, everyone wins, especially the company.

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