Right Person, Wrong Role
Have I told you guys about my sister? She is just like me, except she is nothing like me. My little sister is scrappy and, as Bill would say, “wicked smaht.” She has lived on St. Thomas where she did a ton of scuba diving and then took up pest control. She moved to Miami Beach where she laid in the sun and then worked in a funeral parlor. Her talents are many, her background diverse, and she works harder and has a more intense work ethic than anyone I know.
For the past 8.5 years, she has worked for a company that leases office space to small businesses. You see these sites all over the country, and they usually occupy a suite in an office building in which reception and administrative services are provided to businesses as they get off the ground. This support helps small businesses to project a very professional image without having to spend lots of money on payroll and office leases.
Starting out a temp, my sister rose to operations manager and was selected to travel around the country training other managers and teaching people the importance of upholding the company’s standards, resulting in increased profits for the organization. As happens to many people, her role changed many times. The company would tinker with the compensation package, incentivizing the selling of virtual offices and shared meeting spaces, for example. Then her role would change again, and my sister would roll right with it.
But then, one day she realized that her job was ALL SALES—and she does not fancy herself a salesperson. Make no mistake; this is not the same thing as her not having the skills to be a salesperson. She absolutely could be one with the right mentor, training and support. However, the key element that was missing from her situation is that transition was all done without getting her buy-in. It was a decision made for her with no input FROM her.
And she got mad. She started to hate her job. And guess what happened next? Wait for it...
She quit. After 8.5 years...in Michigan...during a severe economic downturn in a very depressed state. Where is she going? To another company that she became acquainted with during her work day. Someone she was networking with while TRYING to do her job as a salesperson. This company recognized her value, made an offer and off she went.
So what’s your takeaway? It can be very tempting to take your most-successful CSR and try to turn him/her into an outside sales person. It can make a lot of sense and, when done correctly, can be very lucrative for him/her and your company. But PLEASE, make sure you do it the right way.
Discuss the idea…with your team leaders, with the individual in question, with his/her supervisor. Put a development plan in place. Set reasonable goals that can be achieved with some valiant effort—not too huge and not too small. Make sure she/he has a mentor that can bring him/her along.
Today is my sister’s first day at her new job. I wish her all the luck in the world. She won’t need it.
Blogger, author, consultant, coach and all around evangelist for the graphic arts industry, 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 sales and marketing coaching, enabling clients to find engagement strategies that work for them and mentoring the next generation of sales superstars.
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. She is also the mother of two sets of twins under the age of ten, so she fears nothing.