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Jason-

Being the non-conformist that I am, I have had somewhere between 1 and 2 million different bosses already in my life. A few were very good, many were so-so and a lot of them had a lot of room for improvement. Thanks for bringing back some entertaining (and a few painful) memories.

When I was in sales, one of my sales managers was all about new business. We were a national sales team and regularly traveled to our areas and he did not want us using that travel time to visit with existing clients, it was all supposed to be about new business. I do not do sales that way. A big part of the value that I tried to provide for my clients was really good, accessible service and I visited existing clients often. I developed a monthly e-newsletter for my clients, and sometimes I provided training sessions for them and for their staff. This was just part of my approach.

My sales manager hated this, so I actually had to be very covert about working with existing clients. What we sold was based on a one year subscription and before long I had higher retention of existing clients than anyone else on the team. On one of my visits to my area, I happened to get a phone call from a large potential client that I had never been able to make any progress with. They wanted to purchase. They knew exactly what they wanted and when I asked how they had made this decision, as they had never been open to talking to me, they explianed that they had just brought in a new VP, from another local organization and she had been one of my clients. One of her first orders of business was to do business with me!

As much as I would like to paint myself as a naturally gifted sales person, I am probably an average sales person at best. But I had a way that was very natural and very comfortable for me. And it worked, I ended up setting several records on this sales team before leaving.

My sales manager wanted us to do our work a very specific way. It happened to be a way that did not feel right for me and did not seem to be good for the organization in the long run. When I got the unexpected (and large) new sale while I was on the road, he even went so far as to tell folks back at the office, that I had gone in there and closed them in one meeting. I had not closed them or even met with them, I got the sale because of the way in which I took care of my existing clients.

I think that managers, especially managers that have not had much in the way of professional and leadership development, tend to think they need to be “the decider.” This is the way we are going to do things, because I said so. Unfortunately, I catch myself taking the same approach at home with the kids, so I guess we all have work to do!

I think it takes some maturity and clarity on who you are to lay out basic guidelines for employees and then get out of the way. But I think the dividends are huge.

Thanks.

-joe

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