Anti-cat people, like I once was, are challenged by feline independence and the seemingly impossible task of training them. Training and herding top sales producers and cats are not very different, but both are doable.
The other day, I worked from the mostly empty patio of a local restaurant enjoying the warm spring sun and a glass of wine comingled with fresh crab cakes. The silence was broken by the distinctive voice of Bluto’s mews for my attention.
Bluto is a Maine Coon nicknamed for Animal House icon Blutarsky. He lurks the local restaurants for dinner invitations that significantly outnumber the offers I receive. Bluto parked himself in the chair next to mine and purred away while I worked. The patrons, who know him as a regular, were entertained through the window by our Hemingway imitation. OK, it was more like Austin Powers.
One couple came outside with some left over fish for him. When we were done, he followed me home. But our relationship did not begin this way. On the contrary, it was war.
Our furry, alpha male grandcat was inherited from our daughter when she moved out to dance. The first week we took over guardianship was hell. His attack on my wife left claw marks and scars that took months of vitamin E and Retinae to heal. A couple of chases through the house backed him down. It was not the best beginning for what eventually became a beautiful friendship.
Like Bluto, I was quite the 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 called “You can be tough without being a jerk. We need to lead with firmness.”
“Being a tough boss means being clear about what you expect, taking away all excuses for sub-standard performance, and holding team members accountable for results.” – Wally Bock
The first summer with us, Bluto became very ill. He had an undiagnosed infection and would not eat or drink. I had to hold him gently under his neck to maintain control while I trickled water down his throat with an eye dropper. That’s when things changed. Don’t try this on sales people!
We win followers when we provide the support to get our team across the finish line. When the top producers follow us, so will the rest of the herd.
Now we talk. No, I’m not Dr. Doolittle, but he understands the tone, talks back, and I listen. We have a tonal understanding.
How we say things are as important as what we say.
Bluto is very particular about the way he is petted and he will let you know how you’re doing.
Everyone wants positive stroking, but not everyone wants to be stroked the same way. Observation of our the reactions to our behavior is our guidance.
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 he jumps on my lap.
Respectful behavior begets respectful behavior.
When we want him inside, I call him by name and usually comes running.
Salespeople respond to positive behavior with positive results.
When he catches a mouse or some other varmint, he deposits the remains at the door for the recognition that he earned.
Salespeople are results driven and thrive on recognition. Reward is the surest way to surpass revenue targets.
Our behavior defines the persona and outcomes of our team. If you’re not attaining the desired results from your team, take the recent advice of Trusted Advisor’s Charles Green:
“Learn how to seek, and learn from, feedback.” – Charles H. Green