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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Sales Management Secrets: Coaching the Talent of Ambition

Sales Management SecretsThere are people who like to win, people who hope to win, people who want to win, and people who try to win. And then there are the people who absolutely, positively, without a doubt HAVE to win.

Those are the ones with intense Ambition.

You know that super-competitive seller on your staff… the one who always compares himself with his coworkers as well as the salespeople across the street. You’ve probably noticed that he also measures himself against his own previous successes. He’s got many scorecards going at once and he keeps track of all of them. At any given point in time, you can ask him how he’s doing and he’ll be able to tell you the score. And that guy — you can expect him to lose sleep at night if he doesn’t come out on top. 

Bottom line? He’s in it to win it! (And it doesn’t matter if we are talking about large, lucrative sales — or a game of Candy Land with the kids.) It’s hard for him to play a game “just for fun” because the “fun” part only happens when he wins.

As you can imagine, one of the most frustrating things that can happen to that highly competitive sales guy, is a dry spell. This challenger needs to feel as though he is scoring points regularly, or he will begin to worry that he’s lost his mojo and he will quickly become frustrated. 

He may also sometimes struggle with a fear of failure because when winning is this important to you, losing hurts! The highly driven scorekeeper may choose not to participate in a contest that he’s not sure he has in the bag, and that can limit his growth and achievement.

To manage this seller and keep him engaged, you’ve gotta be on your toes.


Here are a few ideas that might help:

Celebrate his wins in the way that is most meaningful to him: pat on the back, quick call at the end of the day, post-it note on his desk.

Reset his goals quickly once he achieves them in order to build strong momentum and prevent him from feeling stagnant.

Add stretch to his goals when necessary – but only if you are sure he can achieve them.

Recognize that he will be a sore loser and give him the opportunity to vent his frustrations in a private setting.

Remedy a loss or failure with a quick opportunity to win. Set a goal that will challenge and excite him so that he can’t resist getting back in the game.

Use competitive language with him often. For example: “I bet you could…” or even “I bet you can’t.” 

Let him know how he is doing compared to the team as a whole and to your top performers. He will naturally keep score himself, but you can feed the fire by giving him access to the measurements.  

Don’t let him get bored and look for greener pastures. Keep him challenged and make sure he always feels he is growing. If he is new, provide him with many wins right away, even before he is the top performer. Discuss the things that he does each day that are “better than others” or “better than you would have expected."

Brainstorm with him ways for him to get ahead and stay ahead of his goals.


With these tips in mind, be cautious about characterizing this salesperson based on one single talent. This spirited frontrunner is a unique blend of talent and will need to be coached based on a clear understanding of all of his strengths and weaknesses.

Once you have that complete understanding of his talents, consider making a list of three things you should always do and three things you should never do when managing him.


This is the eighth in an 8-part talent development series!

Part One — Work Intensity  

Learn about that seller who loves to work, moves at high speed, and crams more in her day than anyone else

Part Two - Discipline 

Learn about the seller who is buttoned up, loves perfection, but can spend too much time organizing and preparing

Part Three - Command

Learn about and how to help the seller who is always taking charge and a natural closer

Part Four - Problem Solver

Learn about and how to help the seller who is always finding problems to fix

Part Five - Positivity

Learn about how to help this magnetic personality

Part Six - Interpersonal

Learn about how to help this relationship builder

Part Seven - Enterpriser

Learn about how to help this entrepreneurial, highly-motivated seller


Do you have an ambitious salesperson like this? Help him stay on top by getting better leads for him to call on through an effective lead generation strategy.


Beth Sunshine is VP/Talent Services for the Center for Sales Strategy

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Topics: Sales