Sometimes you just hear stories that perfectly sum a situation up. One such story for me is the one involving Charlie, a behind target salesperson and his boss at Charlie’s annual review. Discussing how the last twelve months have gone his boss is pointing out that it hasn’t been a good year for Charlie. Meanwhile Charlie feels aggrieved that his boss is focusing only on the results which isn’t fair as he has been busy ‘out and about’ in his territory, yet his boss isn’t recognising this.
“It’s not my fault boss”, Charlie protests. “As you can see I’m working hard, I’m out early and home late visiting lots of people and having lots of conversations. I don’t think anyone could have done any more!”
“So what is your plan for the coming year?” asks his boss. “How are you going to turn this around? What are you going to do differently?” (and he asks this knowing that whilst Charlie has put the hours in (quantity is good), it is a case of what he has put in the hours that has let him down via poor quality work).
“Nothing!” says Charlie, “I don’t think I need to. If I keep on making lots of calls I’m confident it will come good. This has just been a bad year, that’s all. Anybody working my patch would have said the same; there is nothing to be done better. After all …” he says, “… I can lead a horse to water … but I can’t make it drink!”
His boss sits back, looks at Charlie and smiles. “I’m not telling you to make it drink”, says his boss. “Your job is about helping it realise that it is thirsty. That way, when it gets to the water … it will drink of its own accord!”
It’s a wonderful story, and every time I repeat it I’m reminded of just how beautifully it sums up the difference between successful salespeople and the ‘also-rans’!
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