Can Internal Competition help your business?

The good, the bad and the ugly better

There are many takes on internal competition. I am one who has seen competition help and hurt organizations by the very nature of competitiveness and the way that it is promoted by management in the workplace.

SOME OF THE GOOD

  • May increase overall productivity

  • May improve customer service levels

  • May increase some employees’ motivation

  • May voluntarily displace complacent employees

  • May increase market awareness and brand penetration

  • Very likely, it will increase revenues at a faster rate

  • Will increase information sharing

SOME OF THE BAD

  • May decrease overall productivity 

  • May decrease customer service levels  

  • May decrease some employees’ motivation  and/or morale

  • May increase secretiveness and reluctance to share information

  • May discourage collaboration

Notice that the first 3 possibilities for the good and the bad are the exact opposite. In other words, these 3 points can go one way or the other depending on how management promotes, supports and rewards individual contributors.

Case in point: During a recent Salesforce deployment, the company head of operations was unwilling to share any information with the sales team that could be perceived as comparative tactics. His take was that any form of competition would wipe collaboration out of the picture. However, what we noticed during our on-site visit revealed that collaboration was not really taking place. Team members in the lead acquisition front did not know what the others were doing or how they were doing it. The same occurred with the AE team. So, is avoiding competition creating complacency in this case? Can management ever draw conclusions about best practices if there is no sharing of information? If all that matters is how many calls are made, how can management address employee productivity or how a sales process can be improved?

Competition (healthy competition I mean) can light a fire for teams that embrace it. A positive “embracing” of competition depends on management’s focus on the continuous improvement of processes and the style they use to promote it.

The following suggestions are a synopsis of some of the best practices where I have either experienced healthy competition, practiced internal competition or witnessed successful companies improve their business and client relationships through healthy internal competition:

Keys to Success

  • Try to focus on individual results without comparisons between individuals. Comparing individual results as a way to avoid coaching, or in an effort to improve individual performance does the contrary in the long term. It increases secretiveness and a potentially creates a toxic environment.

  • Promote collaboration during your regular team cadence. It is important to stay focused on the company KPIs and the common goals. Discussing how results are achieved or how results can be improved will allow discussions around best practices. This will provide top performers with their best opportunity to “share-and-shine” while poor performers have the opportunity to learn effective means to improve their results.

  • Encourage “competing with yourself” as a way to coach employees and measure their individual progress. As they improve their results, they will also continue to seek knowledge from others in order to continue their improvement, get recognition from management and feel as a contributor that brings value to the team. At the end of the day, it is better to help a team member grow than to go through an expensive revolving door by recruiting “unknown” talent.

  • Provide frequent and reasonable reward. Without rewards, employees may lose interest in their rate of progress and company goals.

  • When possible, create short-term team competitions by segmenting your teams and providing a prize for stretch goals.

  • TIP: If rewards and competition begin to fleur animosity (or not), try creating competition outside of work with a prize for winners. External competitions have a tendency to create strong bonds among employees and it provides a social mean to extinguish hard feelings. For example, a game of pool can create a friendly atmosphere where employees defuse their frustration and develop improved internal relationships. By the way, top performers at work usually lose at pool!

  • Employees usually look forward to this type of event. It is an opportunity to bond and showcase their individual abilities at work.

  • By focusing on collective results and rewarding individual top performers, you will be increasing the likelihood of improving close-deal rates, promote sharing best practices, and ultimately crush your KPIs.

How to use Salesforce analytics to fuel healthy internal competition

Internal competition then, proves to be a tool for the employee’s performance and their development process while simultaneously improving the success of your organization. Salesforce Analytics can be your best partner in getting the benefits of competition without destroying teamwork and collaboration. As an example:

Dashboards (for internal competition), Fields capturing competitor data (to increase brand penetration), and Salesforce communication groups (for improving internal communication). These three features can be designed to work in tandem as follows:

  • Dashboards: User dashboards displaying individual KPI results side-by-side with the overall team results will signal the employee the need to pick-up their pace or it will help them realize the rate of success/contribution they are bringing to the party. This type of comparison will not create harmful resentment against other employees and provides valuable information for management. Management can use use this information during regular cadence in order to promote collaboration around processes and a method to help all employees in the team achieve the goals at large

  • Competitor information Fields: List views of closed and lost deals with values displaying reasons by competitor, and summarized reports by those values grouped by company can provide enough information for management and sales managers to react and reverse course

  • Salesforce communication groups (Chatter): Using the Fields with competitor information, as outlined previously, can provide data used to gain insights of competitive advantages and competitor promotional activity. Capturing data for lost deal reasons due to a competitor preference (price, delivery speed, quality, etc.) will provide valuable information for the sales and marketing team to consider during lead and opportunity management. This information can also be shared through Chatter as it is happening, keeping those in the same team informed 

    These are just a few examples of features available and various methods to create healthy competition with cascading positive effects.

Get in touch to learn how to build reports that can help you foster healthy internal competition.

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