The 4 Laws of Sane Competitive Selling

Dear Irreverent Sales Girl, Winning Team Mountain Climbing

I need some help!

I am starting a new sales job and really want to be successful. I am starting with a company who has an exciting product, a primed marketplace, and a culture of team-play.  Tons of management support and excellent compensation models.

Sounds good so far, but here’s the problem.

I’m a competitive person. I’m an ambitious person. I like to win. I like the thrill of the hunt and I like to be acclaimed for my victories.

Which can be great – for me – when I’m winning.

Not so great for the people around me – I’m a bit arrogant when I’m #1.

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And terrible for everyone when I’m NOT winning. (And by winning, I mean blowing my quota out of the water and being #1 in the company – no matter what!)

I tend to be a front-runner. I’m fired up when I’m number one, but easily discouraged when I fall to second place or below.

I sabotage my sales managers when I’m not winning – they can’t figure out what is going on – I was doing so well. It is frustrating for them and I don’t clue them in on what I need. I stop working at full-speed-ahead. I get resigned.

What can I do to ensure that I set myself up for a long and happy run with this company, while honoring the “we’re a team” culture, and feeling like I am succeeding?


Ready to Grow UP!


Dear Ready to Grow Up,

Thanks for your thoughtful question. You are not alone. Tip-top salespeople struggle with the same things:

  • They have a need – like an addiction to being the number one salesperson – something that never quite gets satisfied. It’s never enough.
  • They lose steam if they fall behind. They can even sabotage themselves and their company.
  • They rest on their laurels and act as if the rules do not apply to them. After all, they are producing results. How dare anyone question their work ethic, their methods, their M.O.?

These people, while relatively reliable at producing results, ultimately do not make themselves or their employers completely satisfied.

It’s not a problem that you are ambitious. It’s not a problem that you  like to win. It’s not even a problem that you like to be acclaimed for your victories.

BUT, to remain a SANE COMPETITIVE SELLER, I recommend that you adhere to the 4 Laws of Sane Competitive Selling –  the laws that successful, satisfied, and reliably productive sales professionals understand apply.

Law Number One:  Set Personal Goals
As you start your new position, take a look at what your company expects for you to produce, what your goals are for performance and compensation, and what you think would stretch you a bit – but are in the realm of possibility.  Set goals around performance,  earnings, and the experience you want to have at work. Write these down.

Law Number Two: Communicate
When you have written these goals, communicate them to your managers. See if they jive with what your managers want and what they are committed to support. See if you have set the bar too low or too high in their minds. Don’t shy away from setting it too high, just don’t set yourself up to lose right out of the gate.

Keep communicating as you sell – when you win and when you lose. Keep asking for input and feedback. Keep asking your fellow salespeople what is working for them and what isn’t. Keep talking about all of it. Keep determining together how you are doing against your goals and against your management’s expectations.

ESPECIALLY communicate when you have fallen way behind OR when you have closed an especially big deal.

Falling way behind has the pitfall of staying way behind.

Closing a big deal has the pitfall of you sitting on your laurels.

Both are dangerous to future performance.

Law Number Three: Compare Yourself ONLY To Yourself
If you are focusing on what other people are doing, you will certainly do one of the following:

1) Stay exactly where you are – because you are right in line with what everyone else is doing.

2) Give up because you are discouraged that you are so far behind someone else.

3) Get so attached to deals closing that you start to do dumb things in your territory – just to keep up – or die trying.

4) Rest on your laurels because you are so far ahead.

Keep your eye on YOUR prize. What is going to nail YOUR aspirations (of course, these have to be acceptable to your employer, or there will be no job to work).

Law Number Four: Help Others
First of all, remember…when someone on your team wins a big deal, it adds street cred to YOUR company and makes it easier for YOU to win business! Celebrate the prestige they have added to your sales pitch!

Wherever you are on the spectrum, you have something to offer someone. Something that means something to them – a connection, a story, an article. Make sure that people around you win. to the extent that you really can (nobody likes “help” that doesn’t actually help). If you play nice with others, you will get rewarding results and will be well-respected and highly networked.

And most of all (of course),

Love ’em UP!

The Irreverent Sales Girl

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