I was at a sales meeting of a company with 21 reps the other day. There’s a legacy battle going on there, as historically many of the reps were actually Agents. That is, non-salaried employees, paid on a commission-only basis for their specific, exclusive territory.
Now, you’d think that sounds entrepreneurial, and as such, the Agents would be mega-motivated. Well, the opposite was more often the case. They whinge, moan and belly-ache, expecting the world to owe them a living. And quite rightly, the fella in charge was getting rid of all but a couple.
The venomously destructive and miserably negative nature of their comments, reminded me of something I picked up in a sales call a couple of years ago. They were a printer reseller, with a fairly dynamic owner-manager, yet with an inappropriate person in charge of their 30-strong telephone-based sales team.
The Boss recounted a story he’d come across about a Canadian insurance business. They could never quite seem to get a handle on the right recruitment policies. They spent huge sums of money on different approaches, all to no avail.
Then they pyscho-analysed all their top performers. They discovered that they all shared one trait; Optimism.
They then experimented by recruiting on this one characteristic alone. And would you believe it, everything improved. Wonderful.