Come On, Push It!

Published on July 2, 2001

In my first sales position in 1980, I was breaking sales records left and right. In fact, by June of that year, I was at 180% of quota! I remember a conversation I had with my manager that month which provided me with a memory I will never forget. As I returned to the office that day after closing a huge account, I overhead my manager speaking with a colleague who was perched on the edge of a cliff and ready to fall off. This poor fellow tried everything in his first sales position and was not making it. The manager consoled this individual and gently discussed ways on what he can do to try and reverse his fortune.

Then came my turn to speak with the manager. Feeling confident and successful after closing this big deal, I strolled into her office expecting to be stroked and told how great I was. After complimenting me on the deal and the great year I was having, she immediately jumped into a discussion of how I better not be thinking that the year is over and I can just coast the rest of the year. She informed me that real champions don’t coast. They take their good fortune and accelerate into higher gear to achieve exponential success. And then, to my amazement, she figuratively pushed me against the wall by demanding to know what I expect to bring in the next 6 months.

Totally amazed and angry, I blurted out how she was doing it all wrong. I asked how could you come at me this way when all you do with the non-performers is stroke them. Susan looked me in the eye and asked me what I thought would happen to the non-performing salespeople if she lambasted them about their
failure. I said they would probably crumble. Susan went on to say that the best thing she can do with a top performer is push them to greater heights for two reasons: 1) The top performer is full of confidence and can take the heat, and 2) If
she did not take advantage of this opportunity to generate additional business through a salesperson who is hot, then she was not doing her job.

You must adjust your approach with each player depending
on where they are at that moment. It is your role to get
the most out of everyone, from top performers on down.
Coasting is not allowed for anyone. If a top performer
goes into cruise control, they will never realize their
true degree of greatness. If a non-performer is paralyzed
with the fear of failure, they will not have the fortitude
it takes to move ahead.

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