Managing the Non-needy Rep

I am the youngest of three. My older brother, Andy, has 8 1/2 years on me and my sister, Nanci, two. Both of them gave my parents fits right through high school in ways that we laugh about now but weren’t all that funny back then.

And then along came Bill.

I was a good student. I had good friends. I played sports. I was self-motivated. My parents were relieved to find that I didn’t cause them to pull their hair out the way they did with my siblings. As such, I was largely left alone, not because they didn’t love me, but rather they were exhausted and happy that I was non-needy.

It was the perfect setting to quietly raise Cain, be rebellious and slightly criminal and have it all go undetected and unnoticed (um, Mom, you don’t read my blog, right?).

Think about this story in terms of being a sales manager in charge of salespeople. You’ve got multiple salespeople. The new ones and those who are struggling or have lost a big chunk of business require a lot of attention, often take away from the precious little time you have in your day, and drain you of your managerial patience and energies.

And then there is that other rep.

He/She is perfect, the model salesperson. Sales numbers are steady. Work ethic is admirable. Rarely takes up any of your time. You are relieved to have such a salesperson.

The tendency is to ignore a sales rep like this. But you are smart. You know you should be checking in; you acknowledge that everyone needs guidance and motivation; but with so many other tasks pulling you in so many other directions, somehow you never get to it, day after day, week after week.

Connecting the two situations, I am not suggesting that your reps are leading a secret life of crime or blowing up neighborhood mailboxes, but I am suggesting that they need more attention than they are letting on. Don’t be fooled by that smiling face. The non-needy rep, probably due to habit more than anything else, would love to have some ongoing and constant attention and encouragement.

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."
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  • Paul Gardner

    Love the perspective! The greatest performance gains are often possible from those who seem to need little or no attention.

    Whether you know it or not, there is almost always "something you can do" for everyone on your team.

    Thanks Bill!

  • Melissa Sienicki

    A great read as always, Bill. And you’re right, often the squeaky wheel gets the grease. But, in continuing with that analogy, the other wheels need their fair share of attention if you want to keep everyone in the company moving forward together.

  • Guttenburg

    Here’s a little positive reinforcement for you, you continue to hit the nail on the head. As a sales guy who I would consider "non-needy" I like to hear from the boss (OCCASIONALY) too…

  • KMB

    Wow I say…that’s me!
    I do secretly wish that my boss would sit with me and provide guidance on bigger accounts like he does with the other 2 reps. Generally what I get is a fast pop head in office how ya doing and that’s it. I am the newest rep here, a little more computer savvy than the others and have basically trained myself, since the company does not offer and training or ramp up of new reps.
    It’s been two years and I am now starting to wonder if the grass is greener?