Pick Your Battles, but Don’t Surrender

Sometimes in life—and in business—it is hard to know what is REALLY important. Some days it seems like every little issue is the END OF THE WORLD, while other days nothing seems to really get to you.

The truth is, though, being able to distinguish, assess and prioritize such issues as they arise could be vital to your business. The problem is that no one but YOU and your close business allies can really decide what that ranking should be. Since no two businesses are alike, there is no one solution for everyone.

Even so, today I thought I would relate a few personal stories from my years in the trenches as a sales manager, and try to figure out a way to help you decide how to pick YOUR battles.

Here goes:

1. Punctuality. When I was first a sales manager, I would climb the walls any time a salesperson was more than five minutes late. I took it as a personal affront that somehow these people could not make it to work on time. I would write people up and have long conversations about dedication, public transportation and respect.

What I learned over time, though, was to take a bigger picture approach to this issue. If the individual was a high performer, stayed late and worked hard all day, I learned to look the other way at his 20 minute lateness. If, however, the person was a general slacker, never hit quota, missed meetings and left early, too, I knew that the tardiness was symptomatic of a much bigger issue that I did not have the time or the temerity to work on. Inevitably, that person would hear Donald Trump’s line, “You’re Fired!”

2. Errors. I once had a salesperson that missed a digit on an estimate. Meaning that she told the client something was $5,000 when she meant it to be $15,000. Huge mistake, right? She was really freaked out, but we had a reasonable conversation with the prospect, who was very understanding. In this case, she was a very strong salesperson who made a huge mistake. But I put it in perspective and gave her a break, worked on her error and we moved on.

Now working as a consultant, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include client recovery, retention and acquisition, and marketing communications projects.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league.

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