Second Best

At any given point in time, sales is a zero-sum game.  If you finish #1 in a sales campaign, you win.  If you finish #2, you lose.  If you’re never #1, you’ll not only not make any money, you’ll get fired.

But measured over time, second place isn’t always a bad place to be.  Consider the typical corporate sales team:  #1 makes the most money, wins all the awards, gets visibility within the executive ranks and the “white-hot light” of constant inspection, and a ridiculous quota uplift in the next fiscal year.

On the other hand, #2 still makes the club trip, stays below the radar, makes plenty of money, and has a manageable quota next year.  It’s highly likely that the second place rep makes more money over a 3 year period because he avoids the major peaks and valleys.

Sometimes, the #2 spot is exactly where you want to be.

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4 Responses to “Second Best”

  1. Scott Says:

    rationalizing why it is ok to finish second…depends on the goal and why you are in sales to begin with – money or recognition or both. It is just like the Super Bowl…nobody remembers who finished second. Anybody that finishes near the top gets paid. You can bank a couple of bad years regardless of the results if you finish on top in one. #2 is not a bad year, but you don’t get a free pass on quota the next either. Top performers are about the commission but the same personality that makes you successful in sales is not one that targets #2 because he can get a slightly lower quota.

  2. Ashley Says:

    I think it comes down to the age old question … Do you work to live or live to work? If you live to work you are probably never going to be satisfied with #2 and financial reward is likely not your top goal anyway. On the other hand, if you work to provide income to enjoy other things in life then I agree that you could be quite satisfied with a status lesser than the top dog. In reality I believe most people fall somewhere in the middle. In all the management and motivation books I have read they all say that usually the number one thing on the minds of employees in not income but more job satisfaction. I don’t think a #1 sales person stays #1 in the same role for long …. they eventually burn out.

  3. M.J. Says:

    Very nice stuff, love the cleaness of the experience. As far as second place. I think if you are shooting for anything other than being number one because of a theory about quota, or commision or some systematic, play the system thing, you are missing the point.

    Over the long haul, always striving to be the best will pay off in many more ways than the commision check.

  4. Thank You « Intelligent Selling Says:

    […] 1 year ago, I posted my first blog entry, Second Best.  It wasn’t very good (many weren’t/aren’t), but it was a start.  Looking back […]

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