Motivate Your Sales Team with a Little Friendly Competition

We’ve all heard that a little friendly competition never hurt anyone. Learn how to use it to motivate your sales team.

By Tracy Larson

We’ve all heard that a little friendly competition never hurt anyone.  In fact, it can help motivate team members to improve personally and thus improve team productivity overall. Let’s look at a few examples. I hope it will encourage you to then share with us how it motivates your own team to improve performance and results.

Team Goals Motivate: NYC Tunnel to Towers Run

A trainer friend of mine wants to run the Tunnel to Towers 5k in September. She has had the run on her goal list for a few years and decided to make it happen. She created a team and invited our fitness group to join. I joined “Team Freedom” initially for two reasons:  

  1. It’s a great cause that I could easily get behind and help raise money for.
  2. I hadn’t run in a while and thought it would be a great way to get back into it.

A third reason, one that I didn’t anticipate, has turned out to be the most motivating: the benefits of team training. Training together as a group with a singular goal – to complete the race – has proven to be highly motivational to me – much more than training on my own. We meet once mid-week, once on the weekend, and train a third time each week on our own. The hot, humid conditions of a New York summer make each workout a challenge, and yet we show up, week after week. We’re committed to each other and our goal.

We started slowly, initially running three minutes, walking one, and repeating this cycle six times.  Several weeks later, we are running much longer cycles. We are also stronger from the band and weight training that we perform after each run, focusing on our legs, shoulders, backs, and arms. The results are visible in our improved time and strength. We are becoming well prepared for the big day. 

What motivates me through the sweat (I have never sweated so much!) and physical challenges that can be quite uncomfortable?

  • I’m getting better. My times are much faster than I ever dreamed. Improvement motivates me to push harder.
  • I’m getting stronger. The band and weight training have impacted my leg strength, making running easier. My shoulders and arms pump more efficiently, and I carry my upper body without cramping.
  • Team Freedom. My teammates. We are in it together. We are all different. Some walk, some run, some are faster, some are slower. We support each other. We are all determined to be in it and finish.

We have achieved friendly competition. Believing in each other and seeing what our teammates can achieve make each of us believe in ourselves and push to perform. We stick together through all aspects of the training, regardless of differing abilities, and look forward to our next session. We are a team comprised of individuals who will approach the “run” in different ways, with a common goal of finishing, raising money for a terrific cause, and celebrating our achievement together. Logging a personal best time wouldn’t be all bad either!

How Does This Relate to Sales? 

That’s easy. Your sales team can readily benefit from establishing a spirit of friendly competition. Your team is a group of individuals who will achieve success at different rates, at different times, with different goals. Some excel in short, faster sales cycles, selling small to medium systems. Others excel in strategic, longer sales cycles that require relationship building, design consultation, sales presentations, and other steps. People on your team have individual, personal goals they are focused on, but as a united salesforce, everyone contributes to overall revenue goals that determine success.

When we run, we use our Fitbits and Apple watches to time activity and analyze results. In sales, we rely on sales software. It helps us define and track team and individual sales goals such as total revenue and recurring revenue sales. We can use it to set prospecting plans, track activities, monitor sales stages, engineer systems, and send proposals and contracts to prospects for signature. And, just as my Team Freedom teammates use health apps, sales teams share common technology tools but navigate the sales process as individuals, each applying ourselves differently.

Success is reflected in sales reporting. Areas of improvement for the team and each team member are evident in the resulting data. Reviewing the data as a team, talking about what is working, celebrating individual improvements and team success are how we introduce and use friendly competition to benefit individuals and the team. Competitive and goal-oriented people are motivated by strengthening their skills in a team environment, seeing their improved results, and experiencing the success of others around them.

Putting Theory Into Action

Chad Asselstine, VP of Business Development at Fire Monitoring of Canada (FMC), has put theory into practice. He keeps the FMC team motivated with a friendly challenge among sales reps to come closest to or exceed quota, with prizes awarded quarterly and annually. Because everyone has a different quota, team members see how their performance ranks based on their percentage of quota rather than in dollar values. The real-time reporting available through WeSuite software makes it easy for Mr. Asselstine to access figures on demand, which he shares with the team through regular email updates. The competition provides an added push for everyone to put forth their best individual effort while contributing to FMC’s overall success.

Depending on your company’s sales goals, friendly competition might be based upon other metrics. Identifying what’s working well for individual salespeople and then constructing incentives that encourage others to emulate those successful practices improves both individual and teamwide results.

The keys to success are:

  1. Keep the overall team goal front and center.
  2. Regularly share individual improvements and encourage others to follow suit.
  3. Celebrate individual and team victories together.

How do you motivate your team using friendly competition? Please share!


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