In sales, the competition can be energizing and, at the same time, it can be exhausting. The wrong kind of competition can negatively impact sales team performance.
Competition – when it is appropriately directed – can also be motivating and spur everyone to greater achievements. But misguided competition can cause unhealthy conflict and disengagement.
Is Sales Team Performance Suffering Because of Competition?
Competition becomes unproductive when it is misdirected inside an organization instead of being focused outside the organization to win against the true competitors.
This happens most frequently when an individual or a team takes on one of these three attitudes. Sometimes an individual or team can adopt a "win at all costs" mentality. You can recognize this by the trash talk, glory-hounding, and questionable tactics used to win in every situation.
Another type of internal competition occurs when an individual or small group is envious of others. Instead of taking action to improve themselves, these green eyed monsters waste a lot of time and energy talking badly of those who are excelling.
A third type of internal competition starts out with a friendly tone but deteriorates into an internal-only emphasis. It's as if these sales organizations lose sight of the real objectives.
Look for these warning signals in yourself and others to be sure you keep the competition appropriately focused.
5 Ways to Find Out if Competition Is Hurting Your Sales Team
1. Be sure that no one is vying for others' attention.
If there is competition for relationships, favor or perks, this is clearly an indicator of an internal focus. Some managers inadvertently get caught up in fostering this type of internal competition. It's dangerous and ought to be called out when it occurs.
2. Consider how much time is spent on internal competitions related to account claims, goal attainment, contest and leader boards.
While each of these can serve a healthy purpose, the amount of time spent on each one will be revealing. They should be background motivators and not the forefront focus.
3. Listen to individual sellers descriptions of their goals.
There is a fine line between an appropriate focus on continual improvement and an excessive competition waged within oneself. Sellers who continually look only at their past numbers and performance will miss the external focus on true potential.
4. Check to be sure that competition is focused on direct competitors and not widely and disparately focused on everyone and everything.
It's best to spell out what competition the group should be collectively engaged in. Clear focus leads to strong strategy and strong sales team performance. It can unify a team to share in a compelling strategy with targets that are understood commonly by all.
5. Finally, when competing be sure the focus is not on keeping up.
The external focus should be on innovating, improving and breaking new ground. You're not really competing if you're only picking up the leftovers. It's not a true competition if you are always the also-ran. Compete by being first.
Sales teams that appropriately focus their energy and effort on winning vs. the biggest competitive threats are sales teams that are engaged, motivated and successful.