How to Keep Pushing When You’re Way Ahead of the Competition

Spread the love

Even before the games began in Rio this year, Michael Phelps was the most decorated Olympian of all time, with 22 Olympic medals, 18 of which were gold (more than double the number of his runner up). He’s the world record holder in five Olympic events. The man set the standard for swimming excellence, and he set it high.

Despite this overwhelming success, Phelps continues to compete at the highest level and has added to what seems to be an insurmountable collection of medals in Rio. That he continues to push the boundaries of swimming even after he has cemented his dominance in the sport has people wondering how he stays motivated with the competition so far behind.

The problem with being the top performer is that it makes further achievement more difficult. It’s easy to get complacent when there’s no one to compete with, yet if your performance declines, you fail to match people’s expectations. Exceptional salespeople face the same dilemma. Much of sales is structured around competition, but true success requires self-motivation and endurance even when competitors are far behind.

Staying Dynamically Engaged as a Top Performer

It’s just as important for salespeople to motivate themselves as it is for sales managers to build incentives into their sales structures. If you’re the top selling rep at your company, it’s easy to forget about areas for improvement, yet every salesperson has room to grow and a great motivation to do so–future commissions. It’s in your best interest to be constantly looking for ways to evolve.

There are many different ways to keep yourself growing. Here are easy approaches:

1. Break away from the status quo(ta): Salespeople have their own version of an Olympic qualification to motivate them–their annual quotas. Obviously, qualifying for the Olympics is a fantastic achievement–and so is making quota. But too many sales organizations rely exclusively on setting quotas to keep reps motivated, and too many reps get caught up in merely reaching the goals they are set. Making quota the be-all-end-all for sales reps sets a limit on their expected success; it provides a benchmark minimum, but doesn’t empower salespeople to reach their maximum potential. What makes Michael Phelps exceptional is that he focuses on being his best self, rather than simply being good enough.

Michael Phelps is like salespeople who not only try to see how far above quota they can get and how many compensation triggers they can qualify for, but also continuously set targets that no one has achieved yet. To be a world-class salesperson, you need to have just this type of mentality. Set a goal to reach that exceeds any others rep performance, knock it down and then set it higher, every month, every quarter, every year.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, don’t cap compensation! Compensation capscreate a culture where mediocre is not just accepted but expected. Research found that companies where compensation was not capped reported higher quota attainment rates. In fact, 79% of sales managers with no compensation cap reported achieving or exceeding quota last year.

2. Prioritize education: Even as a seasoned sales veteran with decades of experience under my belt, I’m always looking for new ways to learn. Part of the reason is sales itself is always changing. New techniques arise, buyer preferences change, new capabilities are introduced through technological innovation, and so on. Understanding how those are changing is key to growing as a salesperson. Set personal education goals and stick to them. Simply signing up for a webinar once a month, reading a sales book, or subscribing to a weekly newsletter from influencers you admire helps you hone your skills and drive better results.

3. Use tools to amplify your impact:  According to Aberdeen Group, best-in-class sales teams have a 16% shorter sales cycle on average compared to underperforming companies. So what do these best-in-class organizations do to set themselves apart from the rest, a big finding from the study was the value placed on driving a repeatable sales processes using guided selling tools. If you’re not already using a solution to drive a repeatable consistent sales processes, consider putting in a request with your manager; it’s a surefire way to boost your sales performance. Just think about what a 16 percent shorter sales cycle would accomplish for you – less friction in the sales process, higher productivity, and stronger conversion rates.

This year in Rio, Michael Phelps faced not only international competitors, but his own former records and the heightened expectations of all his fans. Hopefully, salespeople who watched his progress can draw inspiration from him as he strives to propel himself even further. Every salesperson deserves to take pride in his or her accomplishments, while also continuing to grow. Make sure to stay dynamically engaged so that you keep moving closer to your ideal sales goals.