Competition Is the Fire in My Blood

I come from a long line of competitive people. It doesn’t matter the game: poker, UNO, Monopoly, Scabble, Checkers, Chess. What should be a fun family game night often turned into a bloodbath. You either jumped in and took your shots, or you were quickly side-lined.

I remember my dear old grandma would sandbag me in UNO with ill-concealed glee. My Dad would tell me he was building character as I had to draw another 4 cards from the deck. My Aunt would attempt alliances, but all bets were off if it meant coming in second place.

I love the tale of my Mom almost stabbing my Dad in the hand with a fork when he gloated just a bit too long after he won. Our family was like living with all of the drama and suspense of a great Shakespearean play. A favorite saying in my family was, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” What I didn’t realize then was just how true that was.

I am quite sure my upbringing helped direct me into sales.  There is nothing I love more than the dance that is done with a prospect. There is the identification of the target, the reconnaissance, the careful wooing…it’s long, slow seduction culminating in the sweet success of a closed sale. Of course, that is only the beginning. At this point, many salespeople diverge depending upon their industry. There are the one-night stand salespeople who disappear after the close. There are the butterflies that light upon thousands of accounts and never quite delve very deep with any of them. Then there are my personal choice: the Account Managers. We are the ones who begin with the careful wooing, then the deal, and finally, the marriage. We are the ones who learn about every aspect of our chosen partner’s business, and clean up after the messes. And like a marriage partner, we jealously guard our territory from any usurpers.

This is what leads me to the fight that inevitably happens – particularly when you have a prime account. You expect it from competitors, but it stings when it is your own co-workers. It starts with a new rep popping into your account’s office, dropping subtle hints, and trying to make your client doubt your service. “Oh, they didn’t tell you about this deal? Oh, you didn’t know about this? Oh, that person has only been with the company a brief time, etc.” Think of them as the cute stranger at the bar flirting with your spouse every time you look away. An Account Manager has to be ever vigilant against these types, but it is oh, so sweet when your client defends you.

Today, I am proud to say, I successfully defended against one of these strangers, and I was victorious. I know that I won’t always win, but for now, I feel really great!

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