Research by Valenti (2006) examined the relationship between salespeople’s competitiveness and their performance in a sample of 30 insurance sales professionals.
Competitiveness was assessed using 3 domains:
- Personal victory: winning for victory’s sake or to be superior to others
- Enjoyment of competition: the positive emotions associated with competition
- Conflict: the willingness to take risks and enter into situations that involve conflict and could result in victory or defeat
The sales performance metric this research looked at was the average number of policies sold per month.
Valenti found a curvilinear relationship between the salespeople’s competitiveness and their performance: salespeople who are highly competitive or not competitive at all tend to have higher average monthly sales compared to salespeople who are moderately competitive.
Salespeople who are very competitive seem to fit the common stereotype: highly motivated to be the best and taking pleasure in winning.
Valenti speculates that salespeople low in competitiveness may also out-perform their colleagues because they’re better at staying focused and are able to ignore the distractions that sometimes come with competition.
Finally, salespeople who are moderately competitive may under-perform compared to others because they may allow themselves to get distracted by competition while not being as driven to win.
Hiring the most competitive salespeople you can find is a smart strategy. However, don’t ignore salespeople who appear to be low in competitiveness – they might just end up being your top performers.
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