Annals of Sales: Early “Coaching”July 27, 2010 at 6:21 AM | Posted in Business, Sales | 5 Comments
Tags: Bill Stewart, Burroughs, Plex
I remember the exact moment when my first sales manager, Bill Stewart, gave me what we now refer to as a wake-up call: I was just going from the entrance ramp onto the Cross Island Expressway in Queens. In those days, first of all, there was no question that the sales rep drove. Not only did we do all the driving but the managers examined our car for neatness. I was in one car recently that reminded me of an archeological dig, layer after layer of sloppiness (putting it mildly). This would have been unheard of back then. But the early seventies were before the advent of mini-vans, those combination chuck-wagons and play-pens and before parents were both entertainers and travel agents for their children. In my first week at Plex, just a few years ago, I was heading to lunch and my rep said “you driving?” I looked at him like he had two heads – my driving days were long over. But back in 1974, I was at the bottom of a very real totem pole.
Bill and I had been talking about the Branch’s sales performance. I was, at that time, under quota like almost everyone else. I said something to the effect that I was not at the bottom of the sales list – a list that came out every week. “Tom, he said, “let me stop you right there. I don’t care how other people are doing – if you don’t make quota you won’t be working here very long.”
What! I had been counting on being somewhere slightly above mediocre so that I could somehow keep my job a little longer till some easier work came along. I would have been head-over-heels with average. But Bill wasn’t buying it. He had scoped me out.
When I heard Bill’s words I thought of my mother who would say, as mother’s do: ‘just because their parents let them, doesn’t mean that I will.’
There is karma in the world: we can’t get away with anything.