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How to Use Competition as a Sales Rep Motivator

If you regularly read my contributions to this site, you probably know that I’m an avid skier. I live in Denver, Colo.—a haven for outdoor sports, and a city that’s just a couple of hours from some of the best ski resorts in the country (Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, etc.).

Kendra Lee

February 13, 2014

3 Min Read
How to Use Competition as a Sales Rep Motivator

Editor’s note: This is the first part of a three-part series on sales motivation. The second and third posts will focus on recognition and team success, respectively.

If you regularly read my contributions to this site, you probably know that I’m an avid skier.

I live in Denver, Colo.—a haven for outdoor sports, and a city that’s just a couple of hours from some of the best ski resorts in the country (Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, etc.). So, provided there’s snow on the ground (and I’m not working), there’s a good chance you’ll find me locked into my bindings and flying down the slopes.

I’m so into skiing, in fact, that this year I decided to download an app that tracks all of my ski stats. The technology logs the number of runs I’ve completed, the vertical drop of those runs, and the different lifts I skied at each resort, among other things. All of that data provides some incredible perspective into my activity, but the thing I found most revealing is how much of my “inner sales rep” comes out when I see that information.

After having some time to analyze my stats in the app, I found myself competing against my own numbers. Could I ski more vertical runs in one day? Are there any lifts I haven’t done at a certain mountain? In short order, that self-competition changed the way I performed—in a good way.

Ultimately, that got me thinking about how sales managers motivate their teams.

Like athletes, sales reps often thrive in competitive settings. If you give them something fun to compete for (and, no, I don’t mean their quota), the best salespeople will not only try to beat everyone else—they’ll also compete against their own historical achievements.

So, rather than hosting the same old sales contests where reps duke it out against each other for the opportunity to win a gift card to a local establishment, why not challenge your sales reps individually by posing these questions:

  • How many new companies can you reach by phone this week versus last week?

  • How many new contacts can you talk to in an enterprise account?

  • Can you close a sale that has one more item in it than your last sale?

  • Can you make one more sale this month than you did last month?

  • Can you close $500, $5,000, or $50,000 more revenue this month than you did last month?

The idea, quite simply, is to urge reps to constantly push themselves to new heights.

Frankly, when salespeople are struggling (or successful, for that matter), the risk of defeatism (or complacency) can be significant. As a sales manager, it’s your job to mitigate that issue by finding unique ways to keep your reps energized and motivated. Fun, tightly focused contests or competitions can be a great way to do that because they encourage your reps to self-reflect and self-motivate.

Now, with all of that being said, not every salesperson is motivated by competition. Some are motivated by other factors, and it’s up to you to recognize when that’s the case and adjust your motivation strategy accordingly.

Over the course of the next couple weeks, I’ll share ideas for addressing two additional sales motivators, recognition and team, and discuss how knowing what motivates your salespeople can have a big impact on your team’s overall performance.

Stay tuned!

Kendra Lee is a top IT seller, prospect attraction expert, author of the award winning books “The Sales Magnet” and “Selling Against the Goal” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment.

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About the Author(s)

Kendra Lee

Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert, author of the award-winning books “The Sales Magnet” and “Selling Against the Goal,” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment.

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