Archive for July, 2008


Management Rewards, Sales Management Abundancy, Sales With Purpose No Comments »

Vol. XX

Dear Manager,

In a conversation with one of my associates a few years ago, she referenced a recent set of circumstances relating to her development of a new customer. With a new account lead in hand, she began the process of following it up. After her third effort to reach this client, she was successful in scheduling an appointment. The directions she was given seemed a bit odd; of particular concern was the customer’s suggestion to “… just follow the corn signs along the highway” to her place of business. After over an hour of driving, she saw the farmhouse surrounded by a pumpkin patch that was, without question, her destination.

With a roll of the eyes, and a personal admonition for not better qualifying this lead, she headed up the stairs to introduce herself. The woman who greeted her was a delightful individual, sincerely appreciative of a sales professional’s time. While her purchasing objectives looked to be modest, the associate realized that this was the client’s first step in fulfilling a life-long dream.

As you may have guessed, after a few hours of sharing industry basics and product knowledge, the associate returned to her car with little financial reward for her efforts. On the drive back (past the corn signs), she remembered her first difficult steps into the business world. She began to wonder what path her career might have taken had it not been for the help and support she received from others along the way.

She realized it had been a long time since she had allowed herself to do what one could easily assume to be a wasted and ineffective use of time. It was one of those times in life (we’ve all been there) when we are hit squarely in the face with our own reality. All good sales professionals are single-minded, driven, and accomplishment/reward oriented. On occasion, all good sales professionals are set back on their heels, in essence to achieve a much higher priority! It is so common in life for all of us to forget. This salesperson was pleased to remember, and to give back.

As managers, all of us have been in the position, either on the phone or in person, of being asked for a gift of our time. With all the demands on our day- to-day schedule, it can become increasingly difficult to take a few moments for meeting this very definite need. It always seems to come at the least opportune time.


Let’s be honest with ourselves. Have we stepped up to our responsibility to exceed or even pay back the efforts of those who, over time, have greatly impacted our own success? All of us can remember those individuals who had the time, and made a critical difference in our lives. In most cases, their efforts are not fully realized until years after the fact, when we can then see their greatest qualities in our own efforts. Now is the time to consistently share a few moments of time with those outside the needs of our own objectives. This is who we are; this is why we are here.

It is generally around the approach the New Year that we all have a sense of accomplishment and renewal. There is a much greater awareness and appreciation towards those within our “circle of influence.” For me, it is a time to realize that perhaps I have not shown enough appreciation. Have I been effective in carrying the feelings of the season with me on an annual basis as well as I could have? I guess from a business and personal perspective, it is a time of self-accounting. How does the ledger look in the plus and minus columns?

As a Sales Professional, have 99% of your conversations with your manufacturers become related to immediate problem solving and meeting today’s objectives? In retrospect, how many of these issues, and your reactions to them, now seem much less important? How many of these issues can you even remember? How often do you take the time to call your manufacturers for the sole purpose of letting your appreciation be heard, and to acknowledge your understanding of the value of this relationship to you individually? Take the time to call and share a bit of your understanding of their needs. The commonly untapped resource of your field-level knowledge has a responsibility to be shared. The time is now.

As a Manufacturer, have you taken full advantage of the opportunity to acknowledge and reward the efforts of those individuals and organizations that are consistently dedicated to enhancing your products in the marketplace? Is it much more common to make the difficult calls of reprimand than it is to simply call in appreciation for a job well done? Have you established a call cycle to those organizations that have met your monthly, quarterly or even annual mutual objectives? Are you committed to the relentless search for a real understanding of your sales team, and how to consistently meet their needs through your own objectives? In all honesty, this is an ever changing and evolving commitment to success.

I think we could agree these are all well-founded objectives. They become increasingly difficult to implement in the fast-paced, catch-the-tiger’s-tail world in which we live. We have all watched another business executive at an airport: the walk, the intensity in their face, and the tone in their voice. Have you wondered what “forces” may have brought about this posture? Would others find these qualities in our demeanor?


Several years ago, a story was related to me about an individual in my industry whom I had always greatly admired. Sheldon Babyatsky was the Vice President of Sales for one of our paper product manufacturers. During the holiday shipping season, Sheldon’s assistant rushed into his office, frantically announcing that a very large Christmas order for Macy’s Department Store had somehow been misplaced. It was now very late in the season, and his assistant was convinced that through this blunder they had lost the entire sale. Sheldon calmly turned to his assistant and responded, “We sell paper, not plasma. There’s nothing here that’s life and death.”

Our careers are important, and we would not have become successful if we did not approach each day with a sense of urgency to accomplish our given tasks. “Paper, not plasma.” Sheldon’s words echo through my mind on many occasions, and are worth remembering during our perceived moments of crisis. What may seem so imminently critical and all consuming is, in most cases, no longer significant in a few days. In a few months, it’s gone and forgotten. We must also remember that our success has come from the support of someone along the way who made time to spend with us. I would even guess that all of us can remember the individual or individuals by name. They must have helped to fulfill a dream.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2008. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM


Management Rewards, Sales Management Abundancy No Comments »

Vol. IXX

Dear Manager,

It is only human nature to look across the room and come to the conclusion that someone other than you is getting “the better end of the deal”. Perhaps it is simply a perception based on “the grass is always greener,” or an “it-must-be-easier-for-them-than-it-is-for-me” attitude. This is a typical mindset that, based often on emotion, all levels of management will confront.

To varying degrees, all sales and management staff feel a bit taken for granted at times. It is a difficult topic to address because it may seem to the parties involved that someone is buying and the other person is selling, regardless of the situation’s foundation. The fundamental issues here are experience and awareness. It is obviously very difficult to form any realistic conclusions relating to another’s business without having competed and survived in their arena! It is all too easy to form conclusions with only a surface amount of awareness of another’s reality. I would like to tour this above-mentioned “room”, examine the management styles present, and discuss the impact of each on their sales force.

AND IN THIS CORNER . . . . . .

I have worked with a diverse group of manufacturers over the years. Equally diverse has been their perceptions of, and the day-to-day attitudes toward, their sales agencies. In one corner of the “room” is a manufacturer with an almost detached approach to their sales agencies. They seem to have difficulty understanding and communicating in a positive and motivational way. It is not that they don’t want to, but never having been in “agency” shoes, they just can’t get a handle on what makes them tick.

At times they may have developed policies they believed focused on the needs of their sales agencies, only to find out after the fact that, once again, they missed their mark. Often this type of manufacturer is gifted in creative aspects and has an uncanny ability to develop innovative products having strong consumer demand. It can be an attitude of, “We have blessed you with our creations, so how can you possibly be critical of our sales policies? They seem so very fair to us”.

This type of manufacturer will often throw up their hands in frustration and discouragement, concluding that they cannot please anyone.


In another corner of our “room” is a manufacturer who has gained a reasonable level of sales representation. Similar to their counterparts referenced above, they may have an over-inflated perception of themselves or their products in the marketplace. Whether due to current or prior success, they have been perceived as a leader in their field, and have been courted by those who want to share in and enhance their success. With this level of obvious interest, they have many options available to them. This manufacturer can easily feel they can write their own rules and define their own terms for the representation of their products, regardless of industry standards.

Complacency breeds contempt, and for these manufacturers their approach to sales agencies is one of “a necessary means to an end”, yet one with little or no foundation of respect. Policies are developed to curb the obvious malaise in the field, and to protect against being taken advantage of by the weak links and slackers.

Their relationship with sales agencies is often competitive and adversarial in nature. Everyone is looking over their shoulder, just waiting for the next confrontation to arise. Morale is low, and no one can accept anything at face value. Conversations seem to become more scripted in nature; one party knows what it is expected to ask for, the other knows exactly how it is expected to respond. Very few individuals caught in this scenario are willing to risk being totally forthcoming with the invaluable field information that is essential for personal and collective growth.

AND OVER HERE . . . . . . .

In the third corner of our “room” we find an attitude of frustration and bewilderment. These manufacturers have an absolute commitment to the mutual success of their organization and their sales staff. Often because of the nature of their product, or a history of poor market performance, they have struggled to maintain a consistent and reliable relationship with their sales organizations.

This manufacturer begins a new relationship based on trust, with what seems to be a sincere commitment from all parties to meet or exceed a reasonable level of professional performance. As the weeks and months pass by, and for varied reasons, personal conversations become fewer and more surface in nature. Later than sooner, the marketing relationship ends in disappointment. This manufacturer feels burned.

No one enters a new relationship expecting to fail. It does, can, and will occur, even in the best of circumstances, and with individuals who exhibit the absolute best of intentions. Perhaps the sales agency has been less than honest with themselves and their manufacturer regarding changes in their ability to properly, effectively and ethically continue the relationship. The manufacturer, in order to avoid seeking yet another sales agency, may have hesitated to voice concerns regarding declining sales or inadequate market coverage. What was once an obvious and sincere commitment to success has become a downward spiral.


In the final corner of our “room” is a manufacturer that stands out among its peers in the eyes of its sales agencies. This manufacturer is first concerned about not only the profitability of their company, but meeting the day-to-day, complex needs of their sales staff. They understand that to maximize their performance in the field they must first perform at a level of accountability consistent with their own expectations in the field. As managers, they realize that success comes with the performance of all parties. How can they possibly hold others accountable if they have not performed with marketable products, timely compensation, and a sense of empathy toward the demands of their sales force?

The best of these manufacturers have enjoyed a high level of profitability from their products and still maintain a strong sense of awareness towards the value of their sales agencies in the process. When a benefit of the doubt is needed, it is provided for. When a reasonable request is made, it is reviewed objectively because a sense of confidence ensures its acceptance at face value.

Conversations can be very candid, as there is never a sense of intimidation or ridicule, only one of encouragement, understanding and respect. These manufacturers embrace the value of a fixed cost based on performance, and insist on maintaining a consistent, competitive form of compensation as means to insure the continued growth, development and health of their sales organizations. Do they give away the farm? No. Are they accepting of, and motivated by, the individuals as well as the sales aspect of their company? Yes!

We have now toured the room and its management styles. Each is driven by success, and each represents a very different approach to a very similar need. Have you placed yourself in the center of the room? As a representative of multiple manufacturers you may have realized that, in most all instances, you will need to work with, adjust to, and maximize your efforts with these varied forms of management simultaneously. When one has a very clear view and a very wide perspective of all forms of management (on a daily basis), it is easy to understand how an individual can develop a much stronger sense of loyalty to those who best support and are committed to understanding their needs.

If given the opportunity, I am sure the manufacturers in each corner of our “room” could extol the virtues of its management style. Each should now step into the center and examine this, or a similar set of circumstances. When it was all on the line they, too, would rally behind those manufacturers who demonstrate the value of a very strong manufacturer and agency working relationship.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2008. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM