Is internal competition eating away at your sales results?
Many sales cultures are traditionally based on respect for authority, status and success, and encouraging competitive, challenging and achievement-oriented atmospheres. Although this is not true for all businesses, especially in the 21st Century! There are a growing number of businesses adopting more collegiate, lead team approaches. However, despite different types of cultures, sales performance and results are usually derived from the efforts of individuals. Harnessing those individual efforts to achieve synergy (the sum is greater than its individual parts) is a key task of management, yet so many get it wrong. Let’s take a look at one case study and see why.
What is wrong with the following scenario?
* Sales team has great products and service proposition and is part of an international business
* Sales team is made up of individuals who are measured on achievement of individual sales targets
* Each sales person is given a base retainer but earns the vast majority of their income on commissions made from sales converted
* There are a couple of high achieving sales performers, some average performers and some new sales people yet to prove themselves
* Annual staff turnover of sales staff has been about 30-40%
* Average tenure is 18 months
* The sales team is a state team all working in the same city
* Sales performance is purely measured on sales revenue results
* Sales League Tables are on public display showing who is ‘top sales dog’ each week
* The sales culture is based on respect for authority, status, success and competition
* The workplace atmosphere is competitive, challenging and achievement-oriented
* The sales people do NOT work to specific territories/markets or customer segments to manage and grow, instead it is ‘first in best dressed’
* The competitive environment encourages sales people to fight over leads that come into the business leading to ‘bullying’ tactics, attempts to ‘outdo’ each other, squabbling and fighting over who got to that client first
* Sales people ‘sand bag’ lists of clients just to make sure that the other sales people do not get them even if they themselves are not working on those leads at present
* Management provide no selling skills training, no sales coaching, no sales support, no CRM, no documented sales strategy nor a ‘go-to-market’ plan
* There are no formal sales management practices in place except for the weekly sales meeting which deteriorates into an ‘I’m better than you are’ bun fight
This is an example of lazy and ineffectual management. Only focused on outcomes with no regard for strategy, team structure, performance quality, clear leadership, staff retention, values or culture, this sales team is not geared for high performance and continues to lag behind its true potential.
Why create competition where it doesn’t need to be?
Why make selling harder than it needs to be?
‘Old school’ sales management said that you had to have sales people competing with each other or they wouldn’t sell. You weren’t a legitimate sales team if you didn’t have league tables. They said that internal competition would motivate people to sell more. Well they are wrong. The scenario above is not uncommon. It reflects an actual real life situation – happening right now.
This archaic approach doesn’t work. It’s outdated and old fashioned. If you want to generate real sales growth, try harnessing the energy, talent and ambitions of your sales people in a constructive way where they can all achieve their individual goals along with those of the company without trying to ‘kill’ each other in the process. Remember the old saying ‘a team of champions will not beat a champion team’?
Remember everybody lives by selling something.