A Lesson About the Value of Purpose and Internal Competition

Creating a fun, exciting and positively charged sales environment that fosters healthy competition in your sales team will ultimately result in success.

Below is a great story from Charles Schwab in Dale Carnegie's book, How to Win Friends & Influence People about the need to stimulate competition in your sales team. Sales people are fierce competitors and there is nothing more thrilling than to accept a challenge to compete.


"Charles Schwab had a mill manager whose people weren't producing their quota of work. How is it, Schwab asked him, that a manager as capable as you can't make this mill turn out what it should? I don't know, the manager replied. I've coaxed the men, I've pushed them, I've sworn and cussed I've threatened them with damnation and being fired. But nothing works. They just won't produce.

This conversation took place at the end of the day, just before the night shift came on. Schwab asked the manager for a piece of chalk, then, turning to the nearest man, asked: How many heats did your shift make today?



Without another word, Schwab chalked a big figure six on the floor, and walked away.

When the night shift came in, they saw the 6 and asked what it meant.

The big boss was in here today, the day people said. He asked us how many heats we made, and we told him six. He chalked it down on the floor.

The next morning Schwab walked through the mill again. The night shift had rubbed out 6 and replaced it with a big 7.

When the day shift reported for work the next morning, they saw a big 7 chalked on the floor. So the night shift thought they were better than the day shift, did they? Well, they would show the night shift a thing or two. The crew pitched in with enthusiasm, and when they quit that night, they left behind them an enormous, swaggering 10. Things were stepping up.

Shortly this mill, which had been lagging way behind in production, was turning out more work than any other mill in the plant."

-Charles Schwab, How to Win Friends & Influence People

According to Schwab, "The way to get things done, is to stimulate competition. The desire to excel! The challenge! Throwing down the gauntlet! An infallible way of appealing to people of spirit."

Although Charles Schwab was writing in the 1920's his message is still applicable today. This is a reminder that the responsibility of sales management is to define goals and understand what needs to be done in order to accomplish success. The best way to generate a successful sales environment and culture is to create healthy competition. When a team is empowered to create a competition the importance of that competition to the sales team is felt that much more throughout the organization. When the team assigns value to the competition then it has meaning and therein lies the contagious and fun sport. It is important to sustain competition within the sales force and results must be tracked and displayed for everyone to see. This will inspire healthy internal competition and drive a "winning" attitude.

The summer is almost over, but there is plenty of time left in 2011. This is the time to hire and work hard to hit your goals. Those managers that can inspire and sustain competitive sales environments are headed for great success.


Published On: August 22nd, 2011Categories: Blog News, Sales Optimization, Sales Recruiting

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