The goal is not to perform the best we can, it’s to perform better than the others.
It is acceptable for Fernando Alonso not be the world champion. It will be less acceptable if he is behind Felipe Massa.
In business, unfortunately, it is often the same.
The important thing is to be the best sales performer in the area, whatever the performance level.
The problem many Sales Managers have, is that individualistic and competitive behaviours can be efficient in the short term. This may convince them it’s the only way to go.
But competitive behaviours are dangerous in the longer term.
First, as we all know, selling is not only about closing sales. The quality of a sale is essential: the information provided, the presentation of the services of the company, listening to and conecting with the customer, their needs, expectations...
A focus on competition with colleagues can contaminate the work of the sales person. He might care more about his colleague’s performance than about his clients’ requirements or satisfaction.
Second, the business context is always changing, evolving. What worked yesterday may not work today because of a new competitor, product, service, or a change of environment. In a competitive management culture, the team may be the last in adknowledging and reacting to changes: nobody’s going to proactively share their thoughts or experiences. Some might even provide wrong or misleading information to colleagues because of their fear of being overtaken.
In a healthy honest business that wants to create and grow a market, this is totally counterproductive.
The art of Sales Management is to motivate sales people in a one to one interaction but with collective team based rules and principles. Collective incentives can help. But above all, the company’s management style has to enhance team spirit and dynamics. The manager has to recognise and reward individual contributions to the team, not just individual performance.
In a team, the diversity of people and profiles, of perceptions and experiences, can be a great richness if they are compiled and shared. Sales people can identify bad, good and best practices, build on the others abilities and learn from them.
All of our educational and economic system is based on individual competitiveness. A management culture enhancing team dynamics will always be a benefit to the company and to its results in the long-term.
Lead sharing rather than competing.
Share leadership and not compete for leadership.