Are You Competitive?

Robert Terson

I had a wonderful conversation recently with a software salesman from Minnesota. As is usually the case when I’m trying to help someone become a better salesperson, I came away with a few realizations of my own, which I thought would be worthy of a blog.

The sensational young man I spoke to is 28, the father of two, and is in the top 15% of his company’s sales force; not bad considering he’s been at it for only two years. Still, he wants to do better than that, which is why he sought my help. We discussed a number of points and then I referred him to another blog I’d posted in August entitled “Modeling the Masters,” because I wanted him to follow the specific advice I had proffered in that article (I hope you’ll reread it). This led to discussing the top people in his company. I asked him some specific questions about these individuals, trying to ascertain how he stood numerically in comparison to them:

  • How many calls were they making a day, in comparison to his number of calls?
  • How many presentations on average a week were they giving, in comparison to his average of six?
  • What was their closing percentage, in comparison to his 50%?
  • How much more sales volume were they producing, in comparison to him?
  • How much more income did that extra sales volume translate to in earnings?

Alas, he couldn’t answer any of these questions.

I wanted to know why. I told him that if I were in his position, I’d not only be seeking enlightenment from these people, I’d also be targeting them, challenging them, with the intent of overtaking them and becoming number one in the company. I told him my competitive juices would demand that of me.

That’s when I realized I needed to write a blog about competitiveness.

The great ones in every profession—especially sales and sports—are highly competitive. They demand of themselves the very best that is within them. They want their peers to know that they’re there, that they’re to be reckoned with, respected. They’re prepared to do whatever it takes to be number one in their chosen field. They may or may not attain that lofty goal, but they’re never going to stop competing to try to make it happen.

Michael Jordan said, I play to win, whether during practice or a real game. And I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win.

If you’re not competitive, if you find ding-dong rivalry distasteful, a threat to your ego, you don’t belong in sales. Competition is half the fun of the job.

It’ll make you a ton of money, too!