A 35K guy is a 35K guy…

I had breakfast with a client this morning. He was planning a new training initiative for his sales team.

“How much do the make now?” I asked. “About $30,000 to $35,000 a year.” he replied.

“What are you trying to accomplish?”

“I want them all to get up to between $50,000 and $60,000 a year.”

“Stop,” I said. “You are wasting your time.”

Now I expect all those who specialize in sales training and motivation will send me emails telling me that I’m all wet. I’m sorry. I’ve watched sales people for 40 years, and one thing is plain. A $35,000 guy is not a $60,000 guy.

I know a company that sells heavy equipment. They had several lines, but not the best one in the industry. The owner chased it for years, and finally landed a distribution contract. When I asked him how he was going to change his sales team he said “The only change will be that my salesmen who have been making around $60,000 will now make $120,000 to $150,000.”

He lost the line within 2 years.

All employees have comfort zones, and salespeople are no different. Although most will claim to have no limits on their financial ambition, most do. They have a lifestyle with a cost of living attached. Within that lifestyle and cost are the restaurants they like to frequent, the friends they feel comfortable with, the stores they shop, and their role in their family.

Success to most people is measured by a 10% or 20% income increase. They can get accustomed to that after a while, and of course then they want to do better. But if you give them unlimited opportunity, the majority of folks will taper off efforts at about a 20% improvement in their lifestyle. Beyond that and they have to start thinking about leaving their comfort zone. Most won’t do it.

That’s why owner after owner comes to me in frustration saying “I hired a guy and gave him the opportunity of a lifetime. He could have made $100,000 a year, and he just isn’t doing it. He’s never had an chance like this before and he is blowing it.”

Yup, and maybe next time he’ll be more ready to take advantage of it, but not now. He isn’t a $100,000 guy.

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2 Responses to A 35K guy is a 35K guy…

  1. Paula Waxman says:

    John- Hope you and the family are well! I love what you wrote and it is absolutely true.
    I recently promoted someone to “take over” running the parties for my business which as a caterer, is a pretty significant move for me and for “him.” I am sharing 30% of the net from each party plus he receives pay for the party as well (about $120 bucks for each party). I have asked him to pursue bringing in business as well. He will receive an additional bonus for each gig he brings in. I can see that is where he will fall short, unable, uninterested or uncomfortable going out and selling. I think I offered way too much between the 30% and salary and now the incentive of an additional bonus isn’t really having an effect because he is making enough and certainly more than he has made before.
    I can’t afford to bring a salesperson in to this small business, that means it still falls on my shoulders.

    • John F. Dini says:

      Good to hear from you, Paula. I hope you are all doing well. Yes, there is really no motivational technique other than self-motivation. Those who have it look constantly to improve and do better (although it isn’t always money.) Those who are satisfied are satisfied. You can’t make them unsatisfied.

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