Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


The Cost Of Bad Employees - January 26, 2019

If you’ve been in business for even a few years I am sure you’ve heard or read this statement: “If you think good employees are expensive, try bad employees”. It is a phrase that executive leadership and HR groups have come to use as a mantra over time. But, this statement is often overlooked by sales managers, and I believe it is due to either being in the weeds or believing the issues of a bad employee will resolve themselves.


Let’s first look at this from the eyes of the sales manager viewing the sales rep. Generally I’ve found many sales organizations are very slow to recognize and react to bad reps (bad employees) because they are focusing on the accomplishments and successes of the good employees. Bad employees get pushed aside which then make them worse employees. And, it is typically too late to correct bad employees, thus leading to many terminations. Sales managers get frustrated quickly when their bad employees are not performing. They begin to ignore them and then these employees go on about their day as lone rangers.


The term bad employee means a lot of things to a lot of sales managers. The rep may not be the right fit for the organization. They may be a behavioral problem. They may have a bad attitude. They may blame others for their shortcomings. Regardless, they are expensive in terms beyond just compensation. Whatever the issue, not all bad employees are bad people, and some can be changed.


The same goes for a bad employee that is in a leadership position. Bad sales managers can be very expensive and again not just in terms of compensation. How many good reps has the sales manager lost or pushed away? How many deals did the sales manager blow due to ego or lack of trust with the reps? How many manage through fear tactics instead of mentoring?


The basic cost of an employee is quite easy mathematically. Salary, commission, bonus, taxes, benefits, etc. all determine the loaded cost of any one employee. What cannot be easily calculated is the cost of the employee, good or bad, in terms of client relationship management skills, likeability, leadership or mentoring qualities, business and personal connections, and reputation in the marketplace. These are serious factors that must always be taken into consideration when calculating the cost of a good or bad employee regardless of their specific position within the company.


Ultimately, the value placed upon a good employee is priceless, while the cost of a bad employee is expensive. Very, very expensive.

Do As I Say Not As I Do Should Not Exist - January 19, 2019

I am now forty-seven years old and the phrase “do as I say and not as I do” has been around long before I was born. I remember my uncle, who smoked like a chimney, use this phrase with me as a child. I had a lacrosse coach that was overweight and couldn’t run a 100 yard dash preach to us about conditioning and used this phrase at every practice. I had a manager in my early career constantly attempting to coach us younger sales people, but would never lead by example, and always fell back on this phrase. I even used it myself once a few years ago with my son. However, I quickly said, “what the hell am I doing”, and I sat down with my son for a longer conversation.


The phrase “do as I say and not as I do” should not exist….ever. At the core it is saying that I can talk the talk but cannot walk the walk. Or, in sales, it’s saying I am lucky and can’t really sell by virtue of real sales training or practices. And, that folks is the real shame in using such a phrase in the first place and why it should not exist.


The bottom line is this, if you want someone to follow your advice, then you must be able to lead by example. Eat your own dog food so goes another phrase. In other words, success can and should breed success. A successful sales person should be in a position to lead others by their own successful actions and not simply words alone. I had a mentor say to me “bad habits be damned”. Everyone has a bad habit or two. We’re all human, but bad habits are just that, bad habits, and they should be damned. Bad habits should be acknowledged and corrected.


If you use the phrase “do as I say and not as I do”, besides leading by poor example, what are you also telling yourself? I have found over my many years of managing people that those that use this phrase are also liars, not necessarily to other people, but to themselves. These are the people that tend to be successful ‘B’ level sales people but struggle to break through their own ceiling and reach ‘A’ level status. These are individuals who complain about being overweight but order the double cheeseburger for lunch. These individuals tend to congratulate their peers for promotions but oftentimes ponder out loud why they’ve been passed over even though they hit their sales numbers.


Look around you or maybe even in the mirror. How often do you hear this phrase? What does hearing this phrase do to your mood or attitude? Look a little deeper at the person saying it and ask yourself if you truly believe this person has reached their own potential. What might be holding them back? As you ask yourself these questions do one more thing, look around for the successful sales person that never uses this phrase. Identify this individual and engage them in conversation. Now ask them why they don’t use it. Ask them what has been a driving factor in their success. Engage those who cannot only talk the talk but who can walk the walk.

When A Leader Falls Behind - January 12, 2019

While I typically write about sales or sales management, and in many cases sales management can be an example within this week’s post, managers (i.e. Leaders) in any areas of business can be the target. Starting a new year off should bring about a positive attitude and level of excitement that is contagious within your organization. But, what happens when a leader falls behind?


I am working through this scenario now, where a business unit leader I know quite well is falling behind in her organization. Not only am I seeing a shift in her attitude, from genuinely enthusiastic and optimistic, to being more worried about new business coming in, almost to the point of panicking. Yet, her counterpart in the business unit is thriving, and could not be more excited about the growth of their organization. Is she afraid of growth? Or, is she afraid she cannot handle / manage the growth?


Having watched this scenario unfold for the past six months I believe we are witnessing a case of someone that is simply not equipped to be in a leadership position in a rapidly growing market. She is by no means a bad employee nor is she a bad person. Quite the opposite in fact. However, while many within her organization will speak highly of her technical qualifications, the same cannot be said about her leadership skills. Unfortunately, this is clearly a situation where she should be task focused on client work, and thus removed from a leadership role. So, what comes next?


As referenced above there is a counterpart in a co-leadership role within this organization. While I have been working with their CEO over the past few months, it is evident to this gentlemen that he should be rewarded for his knowledge, work ethic, and management capabilities by being given the single-lead role. I say he is aware because instead of boasting about how good he is, he is the epitome of team player. He continues to show support for his co-leader while he takes the lead in tough conversations and detailed business decision making.


Their team members have shown their growing level of respect and trust for him as well by their own actions. They seem to rely on his advice and guidance more than his co-leader. This is being witnessed throughout the organization. And, the CEO for whom I am engaged by, he too leans more on one versus the other.


In processing the circumstances, I have recommended a promotion for the one co-leader to become the main, single leader of the entire business unit. I am not suggesting a demotion or termination for the other, rather a shift in responsibility. It is best to have the right person in the right seat on the bus. To do so requires the CEO to make adjustments from time-to-time and will afford this woman the ability to put her skills to work where they are best suited. Relieving her of her leadership responsibilities may have a negative fallout and she may resign. That is a risk this organization must take in order to ensure the right leader is in the right seat. However, she may also breathe a sigh of relief and her work product may improve.


The moral of the story is this – leadership roles in any organization are too critical to allow the wrong person to be in the right seat – or the right person to be in the wrong seat. It must be addressed quickly in order to minimize the downsides of this wrong leader being in a seat they are simply not suited to be in.

The New Year and The Next Better Version of Myself - January 5, 2019

One of my favorite authors, Matthew Kelly, for whom I’ve referenced in several past posts, often talks about striving to be a better version of yourself. This is certainly not a new concept nor a concept or phrase that Matthew coined, rather this is a time tested personal methodology. I call it a methodology, even though that may be a slight misuse of the word, because a methodology is a practice or a management technique. And, in my humble opinion, striving to be a better version of yourself is just that, a personal management methodology.


As I wrapped up 2017 and went into 2018 I had the best of intentions to grow my business, do a better job at attending church on a more consistent basis, work on my marriage and fathering skills, engage my family and friends more, and enhance my overall health through nutritional and exercise practices.


Now I begin 2019 having accomplished many of my goals, coming close with some, and completely missing the mark on a few others. My business grew at a slower pace than anticipated due to a very poor hiring decision that I take full responsibility. While I did turn the ship around, I was at the helm nonetheless, and now must make up for this oversight. My relationship with my wife and children is stronger, in part because my kids are getting older, and my wife and I are headed toward our 20-year wedding anniversary. I tried very hard not to make excuses for engaging friends and family, even when I was having long weeks. And, while I still have a way to go with my personal health plan, I am further along than anticipated.


I’m sharing this update because, as Matthew Kelly says, you can never stop working on becoming a better version of yourself. Waking early each morning I have a personal conversation with myself. I review who I was and what I did yesterday; and, I ponder on the day ahead in terms of who I want to be and what I need to do. In each statement I seek to be a better version of myself.


Asking questions and being 100% honest with my answers is the key. Did I do the right thing for myself or my family or my business? Was I being fair to the person I was engaged with in conversation, negotiation or debate? Am I following a moral compass and being ethical? Am I acting in a way that is in the best interest of all involved? Was I respectful?


My goals for 2019 may seem in many ways like a repeat from 2018, but in an effort to commit myself to becoming a better version of myself on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis, I must set these goals in writing for all to see and hold myself accountable. In order to be a better version of myself I will grow my company both in terms of revenue and profitability. I will assist my management team in hiring the most qualified and culturally fitting candidates. I will strive to add new clients that share my company’s outlook and values.


On a personal level I will continue to work on my personal relationships including with my wife, kids, friends and family. I will strive to turn the other cheek when someone insults me. I will look for the good in others and not their own shortcomings – because no one is perfect – especially me. And, I continue my commitment toward improved health through diet-nutritional management and planning, as well as daily exercise.


Becoming a better version of myself is not easy and the job is never done. A daily grind, so-to-speak, and a challenge I am certainly up for. I encourage all of those around me to become better versions of themselves, and through this post I encourage you to do the same. Read Matthew Kelly if you need guidance in this area. He will not disappoint.