“I am a Winner,” said this guy, with two thumbs pointed somewhere between my nipples and my collarbones.
I grew up winning a lot, and not like today’s kids, who win because they simply show up – blue ribbons for participation, blech! Nope. I earned victories for the title of winner by competing and succeeding. Go me!
Winning doesn’t just happen.
I’ll admit that this all reveals some incredibly pompous, lame inner person, whom if I met on the street I’d be tempted to chuck into traffic. I’m not going to take it back, but I also can’t claim that the reason for much of my successes came from being better at (fill in the blank) than my fellow competitors. It was often because I cared more to win, because I am very competitive and because it is both in my nature as well as was nurtured into me to care.
I grew up playing games with my family – Parcheesi, Sorry, Life, Boggle, Clue and almost every card game you can think of, along with many you can’t. Same with sports – soccer, baseball, lacrosse, tennis, fencing. (Yes, fencing). Shoot…my friends and I even weighed ourselves before and after Thanksgiving meals to see who ate the most. (Add gluttonous to pompous.)
Oh, and we can’t forget about Words With Friends. My Mom is a writer and a wordsmith. Her vocabulary is twice mine, but I beat her most often in Words with Friends. Why? Because I care more.
Sales don’t just happen.
Being in sales, I am surrounded by competitive people; they all like to win. However, how much do they care? They’re paid to care, right? That shows up clearly, come the end of the month, quarter or year, when there is an immediate, well-articulated goal at hand and every aspect of sales tends to spike.
This spike is present in most sales organizations. But why? It’s not like we all don’t want to win deals early and often. One reason is that compensation plans alone aren’t very good at tapping into those daily winning behaviors needed across the sales teams to create sales consistency year round. Comp plans are not enough to make us care often enough.
I have had a few sales leaders who recognized this, and they found ways to create an environment where people consistently cared to win. They harnessed the competitive nature of their sales teams in small ways, making us stretch a little here and there.
One leader in particular focused our sales team on many different behaviors, but never specifically on closing deals. Seems that most comp plans do a damn good job of making us care when deals are at the 90% mark, so he let money take care of that.
Without going into too much detail, he whipped up short competitions around the behaviors that lead to sales, like making calls. Then, to create great visibility (and accountability), he offered the winners ping pong balls — a ridiculous number of them, actually. A few of us were in the field so we had our own buckets full of balls at HQ, which we were reminded of constantly with updates and photos from HQ.
This leader’s strategy worked. Our team often had “fast starts” to our quarters, a unique occurrence in our organization up until then.
That was several years ago. Luckily, today there are applications that can create that kind of “caring” environment with short competitions and leave ping pong balls for ping pong games. If you are like the majority of companies out there crossing your fingers at the end of key financial periods and hoping the flood comes in at the last minute like it “usually” does, consider cranking up the competitive culture a bit, whether with one of these applications or without.
Sales gamification doesn’t have to be complex or include cheesy fanfare and gold stars. Just find what fits your culture best. You’re doing yourself a disservice leaving that competitive juice that flows throughout your sales team untapped. Leverage their competitive nature, and watch what happens when they care to win.
Oh, and I’ll school you in ping pong…but not because I care more. I’m just better.