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  • Brett Zalaski

Healthy Competition Makes Great Salespeople


The site has received notes in the past asking about office culture, but a note the other week asked about creating healthy competition in the office. And the note actually made me smile. It sent me back to 2005 and my time in inside sales at CEB.


While I've forever been genuinely appreciative of the training they gave me and the way they appreciated their staff, the culture of the team I grew up with was incredibly memorable. We had a quote board for all the funny things we said on the phones. We threw NERF footballs around the sales floor. We had our own 'meeting scheduling songs' (I went with 'How Do You Like Me Now' by Toby Keith). We ate lunch every day around DuPont Circle and talked strategy on how to get meetings. We went to Happy Hours every week...and kept the conversation about work going until all hours of the night.


But it wasn't all of us. There were many disillusioned people. Or disenfranchised people. People who felt they 'weren't right for sales' or didn't like the 'frat party atmosphere' or they 'didn't believe in the work or CEB.' They felt underpaid and underappreciated. For a small minority, some of that was true. For the rest, and I'm going to generalize, they didn't like, or couldn't keep up with, the competition.


Competition, at large, in sales, is daunting. There's dozens of people on your sales team. Crap, there were hundreds at CEB when I worked there. Some have WAY more experience than you. Some have gigantic leads on you. The idea of catching up is DAUNTING.


This is where healthy competition is critical. Healthy competition allows you to compartmentalize. You can find anyone, regardless of tenure and skill, who has your competitive drive for greatness and compete on a smaller scale.


Compete for the next sale. Compete for lunch for the best half day. Compete for the first drink at happy hour for the best day. Compete for a golf round for the current week. Compete to wear a silly outfit for the person who makes the least amount of calls in a happy hour. But COMPETE! You don't have to be the #1 salesperson to compete in the moment...and that drive, motivation, and competition will raise your ability, your teammates' ability, and raise a culture of accountability. Healthy competition does not start on the big board. Healthy competition comes by constantly competing for the moment.