I Hate To Win

I hate to win.

Believe it or not, I’ve actually heard very successful salespeople say that. After a particularly rambunctious month I’ve even felt it myself. It’s the classic sales management psychology: Once they perform at a certain level THAT becomes the new expectation. Failing to see the demotivation? It works like this:

Month after month is spent hovering around the average performance line. Sometimes a little above and sometimes a little below. Never high enough to earn accolades and never low enough to warrant any negativity. This whole time the diligent, the truly successful, are doing the work. They are building networks, filling pipelines, scrubbing leads…grinding out the multitude of unseen day to day tasks that are necessary for success. Then it happens.

After months of building, sewing, and preparing the sales start to close. Now our hero is performing consistently above average. All the hard work is paying off. A reputation as a top producer is earned. Most likely several awards or recognitions for production and results. Then it gets worse.

All of a sudden all your “follow up” deals…those contacts that went with you part way through the process but for whatever reason just never committed…those routine calls you make just in case this is the week…yep. Those. All of a sudden they’re closing. ALL of them. No reason. Nothing different. But for this moment in time…this call day…this month…all you hear is “yes, let’s move forward right now.” The race is on. You feed off your own success and keep closing until the last minute on the last day of the month. Ahhhh…victory.

As you calculate commission dollars and survey the descimation of every goal set before you the horrible truth hits home: “My bar just got raised.”

Why do we do this? Why does management at all levels allow and appreciate this type of response? Would your top producers actually stop getting results if you recognized the accomplishment and then – never may it be – stopped talking? “Great job last month, Bob. Sure hope you can top it this month. Did you know we’re already on the third day of a new month? Any sales to report?” C’mon. We can do better than this.

All I’m saying is: If the only thing winning gets me is conversations about when I’m going to win again…I’d rather lose. It’s less frustrating and time consuming.

What can you do to create an environment where people love to win?



Filed under 2009

2 responses to “I Hate To Win

  1. Krister-

    I have three thoughts that relate to trying to answer your question:

    1) The manager needs to not be greedy.

    2) Often that comes by generally being thankful and having a humble attitude. When we are thankful/humble, we create venues for surprise. The more surprise we give, the more we create dlight. And “delighted” works are set to go out and keep on trying hard to win.

    3) Managers should know the stories. They need to know all the “meta data” that went into creating a sale. Fundamentally, this means looking at more than just numbers to measure success. It means looking at the HOW – how someone achieved what they did. In this, even when there is great success, you’re still able to look for ways to improve and you don’t just reduce your management skills to “hey, let’s go beat last month’s sales.”

    Hopefully all of these create a working environment filled with appreciation, respect, and inspiration.

    And then, when we’re all retired and dying, we’ll be doing it with the same folks that we stood should-to-should with as we produced the work of our lives.


    • kristerdunn

      Brody, Thank you so much for the interaction and your thoughts! I agree and really enjoyed the way you discussed concepts of surprise, delight, and standing shoulder to shoulder with the same folks we produced the work of our lives with. I have a feeling there are a lot of work environments out there that could do with a healthy dose of all those ideas…

      (I replied to this via email almost immediately but something must have gone wrong and I’m just now noticing. I apologize for the delayed response.)

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