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Posts Tagged ‘Demotion’

123117…ABC

Code?  No.  123117 is the last day of the year; aka the last day to “hit our number” for anyone not on an alternative fiscal year.  The countdown to midnight; to accelerate our accelerators (maybe, to keep our job).

ABC?

ABC:

Always be closing. Telling’s not selling.

2000 Drama Boiler Room

Please tell us your favorite “sales-closing” story.

Here are two of mine.

I worked with a seasoned sales professional years ago at Integral Systems.  He needed this one last deal to exceed his number and qualify for Club.  His prospect was in New York and he started with the old “camp-out-close” – showing up at their office without an appointment; determined to see his prospect; camped out until he did; needed to close the deal.  The prospect played along.

Unfortunately after agreeing to meet, his prospect wasn’t budging any further as my colleague tried every “ABC” tactic he knew – an extra discount; lenient contract terms; even an opt-out, side letter (unacceptable by today’s revenue recognition standards, but a common “last resort” back then).  At the end of a short but spirited interaction between the sales rep and his prospect, the “because-it’s-my-day” close was born.  It likely went something like this:

Prospect:

“I’m sorry, but as I told you; our plan is to finalize our vendor selection in January.  Why should I buy from you today?”

Sales Rep:

“Well Sir; because today is my day; and you have an opportunity to make today a special day for me.  Some day it will be your day; and when that day arrives, someone will have the opportunity to make that day a special day for you.  But today is my day and that’s why you should buy today.”

And his prospect did!

And then there’s the variation of the “because-it’s-my-day” close, I call the “me-or-my-successor” close:

As a sales professional, I carried a quota for over 40 years.  And I can remember my 2nd quota year as clearly as any.  You see, in my first year, I was more lucky than good.  That led to a promotion, and a hefty quota increase for my second year – I was in over my head.

After 26 weeks into my 2nd year, I was put on a “performance warning”.  At the 39th week, the Vice President of Sales was asking my Sales Manager to fire me.  Since my company had chosen to proactively promote me (perhaps a bit prematurely) at the start of the year, I asked my Sales Manager to give me 52 weeks to sell my annual quota.

We agreed that at the end of the 52nd week, if I was still below 100%, I would resign.  At the end of my 51st week, I was at 75% and significantly behind the required sales dollars necessary to keep my job.  However, I had been working hard on a very large account.

I called the executive at my prospect and asked, “Do you think you will accept our proposal?”  “Yes”, was his response.  “Excellent, thank you!”  I reacted.  And then I added, “Do you think you could place your order this week?”  When my prospect asked why, I said, “Because if you place your order next week, it will be with my successor.”

And at the 52nd sales meeting, with the Vice President of Sales in attendance, I “roll-called” the second largest deal in the region’s history; finished my 2nd year at exactly 100% of my quota; and kept my job.

123117… “ABC” everyone, “ABC”.  Bon chance!

GAP

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Wrong – again!

Hapless?  Helpless?  Hopeless?

It happened at the office (again).  I saw it coming (again).  And I responded wrongly – again!  It was my old brain reaction – that fight or flight stimulus thing – and flight is not my way.

It started out innocently enough.  He was in my office for meetings; took the time to see if I was at my desk; wanted to discuss something with me.  Our social pleasantries started out fine; but I saw it coming (again!).  Ever have to work with someone that you just don’t get along with?  Me too.

I know he wasn’t trying to spoil my day.  And when I say I don’t get along with him, it’s not that I don’t like him.  But his business acumen?  Triggers my old brain.  Do you have one of those at work?  Thank God we’re perfect right?   LoL!

First Law of Debate

Never argue with a fool.   People might not know the difference.

Unknown Sage

When we met, it was not my intent to argue.  I complimented him on a recent email he sent clarifying an important question we had been struggling with.  I thanked him for his clarification – should have left it at that.  But I didn’t (again).  I guess leaving well enough alone is not one of my “features”.

Instead, I elaborated; thought he might want to understand; thought offering additional background was a good thing.  It wasn’t.  Let the debate; aka argument begin!

It is important to realize what the purpose of these debates is and what it isn’t.  Don’t think for a moment that at the end of such debates all participants will arrive at a unanimous point of view.  That’s naïve.  However, through the process of presenting their own opinions, the participants will define their own arguments and facts so that they are in much clearer focus.  Gradually, all parties can cut through the murkiness that surrounds their arguments, clearly understand the issues and each other’s point of view.  The clearer images that result permit management to make a more informed – and more likely correct – call. 

Andy Grove

“Clearly understand the issues and each other’s point of view”, isn’t one of his “features”.  He remained focused on his point of view.  I felt I understood his point of view; didn’t agree with it; didn’t really respect it.  “Clearly…”, the feeling was mutual.

So he argued; I elaborated.  He was presumptuous; I was impatient.  He became arrogant; I became an asshole – again!  What started out as a conversation between two associates interacting on a cross-functional, initiative ended as a confrontation.

Happens every day in the business world you say?  True enough.  My disappointment is I could have (and should have) avoided it altogether.  You see, he’s been in our industry 4 years – me, 4 decades.  I know better.

The most difficult thing in the world is to know how to do a thing and to watch someone else doing it wrong, without commentary. 

T.H. White

It’s that “without commentary” that trips me up every time.  I simply can’t seem to avoid that old brain, “fight” trigger when in an argument with a fool.  I’d like to manage these encounters better – guess I’m still a little hapless, but hopefully not hopeless:

Fall down seven times.  Stand up eight. 

Japanese Proverb

I have enough experience to dial down the fervor and better manage my response in the face of ineptitude.  So I’m certainly not helpless.

Confrontation; not my proudest “feature” – and I was wrong.  Again!

GAP

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It’s a duck…

Managing people can be a challenging; rewarding; and sometimes messy business, true?  For all the talk about employee engagement, front line “supervision” seems to remain a consistent phenomenon in our business world.  Are employees just incorrigible?

As one IT Professional put it; “We’ve been reorganized, restructured, re-engineered, right-sized, down-sized, up-sized, TQM’ed, and MBO’ed, and if I hear the word empowered once more, I swear I’m gonna scream!” 

Geoffrey James

What happens to us when we get promoted to a manager?

Man-a-ger (man-i-gir) n 1. Coach, Teacher, instructor, Leader 2. Mr. Know-It-All, Ego with Legs 3. One who has or will have an ulcer 4. One who apologizes to subordinates for the stupid actions of superiors 5. One who apologizes to superiors for the actions of subordinates.

What’s the key to being a successful manager?  Hall of Fame baseball manager Casey Stengel had this philosophy:

The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.

With all the animosity and bad jokes about management, many of us still seek that big promotion, don’t we?  In some companies (mine included) a sort of artificial environment is created where employees adopt the feeling:

If I’m not moving up; I must be moving down.

My friend and former colleague, Adam, had this affliction.  Truth be told, I’ve suffered from it myself.

Experienced; skilled; articulate; professional; I can’t say enough about Adam’s talents.  And I think I know the cause of his “moving down” affliction.  We were observing other, less talented colleagues at our company get promoted into front line sales manager roles.

We see it all the time, don’t we?  Those that can do; while those that can’t perfect the internal politic of wooing their boss to promote them.  I was so afflicted early in my career that when two of my best friends were promoted, I could not share the joy of their success.  Nope, in my mind I was “moving down”.  I needlessly quit a great job because of it.

So when Adam caught that bug, I knew the early warning signs.  I tried to offer a little “elderly wisdom” to no avail.  He was going to take a promotion into a bad job come hell or high water.  Which would it be you ask?  Hell or high water?  Well, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

Sure enough, within 10 months of total emersion into his managerial assignment; facing  innumerable obstacles; receiving little support from his superiors; the man who promoted him to begin with called one day.  When needing to deliver bad news, managers often “tip their hand”, hoping to soften the blow I suspect.

Ten months into his role, the discussion was about returning to a front line sales rep role (aka a demotion).  That’s not exactly how his superior said it.  The conversation was less direct; more vague.  Adam called me to relate the exchange and ask for a little “elderly wisdom”.  “Were they really demoting me?”  he asked.  I suggested it might be a good move; a better fit for him.

A new area manager was flying in to meet with him the following week.  To me, all of the signs indicated he was being demoted.  I said to Adam, “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…”  I asked him to let me know how the meeting went.

Adam called me that following week – he left a voice mail, “It’s a duck”.

GAP

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