Anti-cat people, like I once was, face the challenge of feline independence and the seemingly impossible task of training them. The training and herding of top sales producers and cats are not much different, but both are doable.
The other day, I worked from the nearly empty patio of a local restaurant enjoying the warm spring sun and a glass of wine mixed with fresh crab cakes. The silence was broken by the distinctive voice of Bluto’s meows to get my attention.
Bluto is a Maine Coon nicknamed by Animal House icon Blutarsky. He stalks local restaurants for dinner invitations that significantly exceed the offers I receive. Bluto pulled into the chair next to mine and purred while I worked. Customers, who know him as a regular, were entertained through the window with our Hemingway impression. Well, it was more like Austin Powers.
A couple came out with some leftover fish for him. When we finished, he followed me home. But our relationship didn’t start that way. On the contrary, it was war.
Our furry alpha male grandfather was inherited from our daughter when she moved in to dance. The first week we assumed guardianship was hell. His attack on my wife left claw marks and scars that took months to heal with Vitamin E and Retinae. A couple of chases around the house pushed him back. It wasn’t the best start to what eventually turned into a beautiful friendship.
Like Bluto, I was quite rogue in the early days of my sales career.
Wally Bock, one of my favorite leadership writers and author of the Three Star Leadership Blog, recently wrote an excellent post titled “You can be tough without being an idiot. We need to lead firmly.”
“Being a tough boss means being clear about what you expect, eliminating all excuses for poor performance, and holding team members accountable for the results.” – Wally Bock
The first summer with us, Bluto became very ill. He had an undiagnosed infection and did not want to eat or drink. I had to gently hold it under his neck to maintain control as I ran water down his throat with a dropper. It was then that things changed. Do not try this with the sales staff!
We gain a following when we provide the support for our team to cross the finish line. When the best producers follow us, so will the rest of the herd.
Now we talk. No, I’m not Dr. Doolittle, but he gets the tone, responds, and I listen. We have a tonal understanding.
How we say things is as important as what we say.
Bluto is very particular about the way they pet him and will let you know how he’s doing.
Everyone wants positive strokes, but not everyone wants to be stroked in the same way. Observing our reactions to our behavior is our guide.
When he eats or wants to be left alone, I give him his space. When he wants to hang out, he comes to my desk, couch, or bed and waits for my tap, tap, tap before jumping onto my lap.
Respectful behavior begets respectful behavior.
When we want him inside, I call him by name and he usually comes running.
Sellers respond to positive behavior with positive results.
When he catches a mouse or some other vermin, he deposits the remains at the door for the recognition it has earned.
Salespeople are driven by results and thrive on recognition. Rewarding is the surest way to exceed income goals.
Our behavior defines the personality and results of our team. If you’re not getting the desired results from your team, follow the recent advice from Trusted Advisor’s Charles Green:
“Learn to search and learn from comments.” – Charles H. Green