I recently had a disagreement with an influencer that I follow on Linkedin.
The title of his post was "Don't Make This Hiring Mistake" and he proceeded to advise his audience to never higher a salesperson that is not competitive. He said "Show me someone who isn't competitive and I'll show you a loser".
My argument was this: "Competition is the go to for almost all sales teams but that’s why our sales system is broken. It focuses on the goal not the process. When you focus on competition your sales staff will do whatever it takes to get a win. But that’s a short term outcome. There is never going to be enough wins to fill that cup. It creates an environment of always wanting and needing more. It creates an environment of saying and doing whatever is necessary to get that win. It creates an environment of anything is justified if it gives me my desired outcome.
Character is the most important skill of a sales person. I’ll take the sales person that focuses on the process not the win. Those are the unicorns."
I've been apart of sales teams that had a massively competitive atmosphere. Everyone was racked and stacked each month. Large rewards were given for achieving the "goal". This is actually the standard for sales teams in almost every industry, but here is what happens:
At the beginning of the month, the sales are pretty good, the clients that come in are typically the clients that you would want, they have good expectations of your service. What happens as the month progresses is the sales staff starts pushing harder and harder. Telling a white lie here, bending the truth there. By the end of the month, when everyone is vying for the "goal" and the "top spot", the sales floor turns into a dumpster fire. People are telling clients whatever they want to hear, regardless of the truth, regardless if the company is even a good fit for the client or the client the company. They are doing anything and everything to hit that goal or get that top spot.
This is what competition in sales breeds. A highly competitive salesman that will do whatever is necessary to "win". That is not ethical, that is not right.
This is why at my company, we focus on character. We don't have sales goals. Our rating system is based on client satisfaction. Period.
Do we sell less? I don't think so. The roofing and solar industry is inundated with the goal based sales systems. I believe its refreshing to hear truth, honesty, and have a real understanding that our staff is genuinely going to do what's in the clients best interest. People gravitate toward it. After all, who wants to be sold? I would be willing to bet we actually sell more without a sales goal than the ultra competitive roofing companies that have them.
When you can achieve this type of mindset, you stop being a salesman. You just become a helper. You will be surprised how much more you will actually sell.