The drive to compete is a sales attribute we look for when training Salespeople in Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto.  This trait distinguishes top producing individuals from core performers and sets them apart from the pack.  For Sales Managers, identifying competitive Salespeople is no different than coaches looking for quality athletes when building a top-notch team.  Here’s how you can recognize these performers and bring out the best in them.

Whenever we talk about the ability to compete, watching the reaction from Salespeople always tells you a lot about their perspective on the subject.  Before you picture images of dog-eat-dog and a workplace where co-workers take advantage of the person in the next cubicle to make a buck, allow me to explain the concept of constructive competition.

Constructive competition

Here’s an easy way to understand the definition.  Competition is an environment where Salespeople are encouraged and given the opportunity to progressively win and beat expectations.  Constructive competition brings out the best in performers.  It pushes them to always want to do better and never be satisfied with average performance.  Ask a competitive Salesperson how they feel about the word average and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Destructive competition means win at all costs and have little to no regard for teamwork and the opportunity to promote success in other Salespeople.  Constructive competition carries a much different meaning.  I’ve had the privilege of working alongside some extremely competitive Salespeople.  They can be a great source of wisdom and advice when asked and are often well-respected in their companies.  These Salespeople can be excellent Managers should they be interested in teaching their colleagues how to learn from their success.

Salespeople who believe in constructive competition use it to motivate themselves to reach new goals and sales targets.  Don’t think that their success is only restricted to sales volumes.  Often,  it’s closely aligned to career milestones and the desire to work on an area of sales development.  The ability to negotiate better or ask for referrals from champion customers are clear signs of the competitive drive in winners.

Competition on the sales floor – A Sales Manager’s Lesson

There are two categories of constructive competition in empowering Salespeople.  Your job as a Salesperson is to know which one motivates you and fuel it.  Your job as a Sales Manager is to do the same thing with each of your Salespeople.  This is the mark of the Sales Coach who wants his or her team to always raise the bar on themselves.  Creating this type of positive competitive environment is what winning teams are made of.

The Salesperson who Competes Against Others

These individuals are easy to spot.  They need to be at the top (or close) of their team, company or category designation.  They are motivated by achievement and group recognition.  Highest billing Salesperson of the Year, Largest Sales Volume of New Customers, Highest customer satisfaction rating – these are all examples of Salespeople who measure their success relative to their level of achievement within a group.

They are fueled by individual performance and need to feel victory by being consistently the leader or close to the top of their class or category.

The Salesperson who competes against himself

This Salesperson needs to feel that he or she is beating their old mark in level of achievement.  They aren’t too concerned about their standing in a group because they are more motivated by wanting to always do better and push themselves to new heights in specific areas of sales success.  They’re self-starters and always look for opportunities to push themselves higher.

Which one are you?

If you’re a competitive Salesperson, you and your Manager need to know which category you belong to.  The two are very different and have a unique set of motivators.  Imagine your Sales Manager informing you that your last month’s sales was fourth on the team yet neglecting to recognize that you just recorded your career highest month with the company.

If you’re motivated by competing against other Salespeople on your team, you need to need to give yourself a break and accept that other Salespeople are going to have better months occasionally.  Not having the team spirit to congratulate your colleagues when appropriate is a mistake for team morale and can have serious consequences in the working relationship.

Compete but don’t compare

When I sold life insurance door to door many years ago, I was fortunate to learn this from an experienced veteran who sat next to me in our office.  Eric was constantly in the Top 3 Salespeople for highest sales volume every year.  Guess which type of competition motivated him?  Yet he never gloated or held it over anyone.  He was respected for his desire to always offer great advice and opinion.   He shared that I should compete but not compare myself to others who may have been in the industry far longer than I had.  I never forgot that.

While constructive competition works well to motivate Salespeople, comparing never does.  Here are some examples that are sure to backfire:

  • You and another Salesperson have an internal competition to see who can bill the greatest volume of new business in a quarter.  Great!   One day you decide to take it up a notch and compare paychecks.  Horrible idea!  It always ends in resentment and ill feeling from one Salesperson’s perspective.
  • You decide to directly compete with another Salesperson for a specific yearly award to be given out at the company’s sales conference.  One of your co-worker’s clients sees you at a public function and asks if you’re interested in servicing their account due to a recent falling out with their current Salesperson.  You ask them to call the Sales Manager and make that request.  The Sales Manager complies and tells your co-worker that a rep change is necessary because it’s a client request.  That spells the end of your working relationship with the other Salesperson.  Where’s your standing with the team if he or she tells other team members about it?

Competition can bring out the best in people.  Direct comparison seldom does.  Smart Salespeople and Managers determine what category and level of competitiveness works best and where to keep it in check.

For many of us that requires some personal self-reflection on our values and definition of personal success.  What do you think?  Has competition caused you to excel or has it had a negative affect on you?  Please use the comments section below to give us your thoughts.


If you’re a Salesperson who believes in making a consistent commitment to learning new skills, check out our book  SHUT UP!  Stop Talking and Start Making Money available on Kindle and paperback on Amazon or our online sales training program The Sales Skills Incubator.  Take the free trial on Chapter 1 – The Stigma of Sales.

If you’re a Sales Manager in Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton Calgary or Toronto looking for sales training, give us a call or email from our Contact section on our website.  We design fully individualized sales training programs for our clients.




Dave Warawa – PROSALESGUY