Tag: sales motivation strategies
on Dec.05, 2010, under make it happen
This blog is motivated by an email I received yesterday from an old staff who worked for me in Shanghai back in 1999 … I havent heard from this person since 2000, but his email and his mention of a couple stories in his mail motivated me to post this blog…..because it blends into the theme I have been recently discussing: “the importance of core values.”
When I first opened an office in Shanghai back in 1999 for the previous company I worked…..
I was in the right place at the right time and recruited a couple great sales leaders to help me build an army of successful operations, production and sales people.
The office took off quickly, and within a few months we had 70 mainland Chinese employees making their success happen – even though we had American, Australian, New Zealand, Chinese and British employees, the office had been built by people who all had similar, or the same “core values.”
Within just a few months, the Shanghai office became one of the most consistent, and best performing offices in the company — so the CEO of Asia (based in Sydney) asked me to watch over the Hong Kong office while the General Manager of that office was on a 3 week vacation.
The Hong Kong office averaged less than US$20,000 a week …. I wanted to be the managing director of Greater China, so controlling the HK office was my goal.
As I type, I remember back to that phone call where Simon (the CEO) called me about watching over the office for 3 weeks….
I explained to the CEO of Asia that if my name was going to be associated with the Hong Kong office for 3 weeks, then I had to be able to run the office my style.
He laughingly called me an “arrogant prick” but agreed.
It’s an easy 3 hour flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong…
on the flight, I reviewed the previous 12 months of sales figures for the HK office which also included staffing, recruitment information (where I noticed massive turnover of staff) There was only one person in the office who seemed to have any consistency, a Hong Kongnese sales woman who was also on vacation for the period I would be in the office.
For the 3 weeks I was in Hong Kong, the company put me up in the Mandarin Oriental hotel – a gorgeous 5 star hotel which I completely took for granted. (issues discussed in “ode to Marcus Evans…”)
The memo I received the day before my trip stated there were 20 staff working in the Hong Kong office, 18 of them were in sales.
My first day in the office wasn’t a big surprise — the office was in a gorgeous part of HK, had a view of the harbor, but was messy.
The CEO of Asia knew how competitive I was so he sent a company memo to all the GMs stating that “Scott Ragsdale was running the Hong Kong office for the next 3 weeks.”
As I was walking into the office, a young, good looking British guy was walking out …
I stopped him, and asked where he was going… he told me he had worked for the company for the month, saw no future so had quit the previous week and was just picking up his pay check.
I remember the way the guy spoke to me – looking me directly in the eyes as he spoke, you could see he had something – a spirit, or a passion, something that not everyone has…
He was dressed very well (I dont mean he was wearing an expensive suit, just very sharp)
I introduced myself, and told him to go back in the office, listen to my morning speech and see if what I had to say was something which might change his mind.
Within a few minutes of the work day beginning, I had a morning meeting with the office to introduce myself.
I also used the meeting to discuss the next 3 weeks…
I explained that we would spend the first few hours cleaning the office up, retraining and getting ready for the next 3 weeks…
I set several ridiculously generous incentives for the 3 weeks (I often gave lavish incentives out of my own pocket to make the job more fun – it was my way of investing)
I told the team that one of the 3 weeks we would break US$100,000 in business for the week (Simon had challenged me to do this because it was something which had never been achieved before in this small office).
As I was speaking, I saw one of the young men roll his eyes to two girls in the office …. and the girls giggled. (all three were Hong Kongnese)
I terminated all three of them on the spot, in the middle of my meeting …. once they were gone, probably 3 minutes later, I continued the meeting…
I knew all the sales figures, thus I knew these nobodies didn’t really exist anyways….two of them had worked for the company for more than 2 years and in those 2 years didn’t do much, definitely, did not add value to the office so I was certain that I had done what was best for both the office and the company.
As I stood there waiting for the 3 to leave the office, the sharp young British man (Adam Fletcher) came up and told me (I can still hear him say) “I am hooked.”After my meeting he immediately, started to clean up the mess, and his actions got the rest of the team to start cleaning up the office (you could see (clearly) this guy was a leader)
We spent the first morning cleaning, making the office sharp – and then I retrained the sales team – all at the same time, judging who I believed wanted what I wanted …
After lunch, I terminated 4 more because they showed up 15 minutes late … surely, just to say “fuck you” to me.
… so by 14:00 on the first Monday, I had terminated 7 out of the 20 staff …. In an office that I was just overseeing for 3 weeks.
My CEO (Simon) called me later that day from Sydney telling me how the General Manager of the office (a man in his early 30s from Mumbai) had called him on his mobile from his vacation to say ‘Scott Ragsdale is destroying my office!!!’
The CEO knew me well … and gave me the trust and support I needed and told me “he looked forward to seeing my results.”
The following day, my 2nd day in the office …. I got rid of a few more.
Now the office was down to 8 staff …. 7 of them sales staff. I was convinced that all 7 had the same “core values.”
The office did US$74,000 that first week; US$48,000 the second week and $108,000 the third week.
(I still have the memo from the Chairman and CEO highlighting the success achieved over those 3 weeks)
Upon reflection – my biggest achievement during those 3 weeks was not the 3 weeks of great sales, but more importantly — I saved the company from losing two exceptional talents – one of them being the young British guy and the other a young American woman who both went on to senior management positions in the company. (both were quiting or had quit the company the day I arrived)
The British guy, Adam Fletcher worked with me for several years, and was directly involved with closing and developing several million euro of business during his time with the company.
How could I get that shitty little office to do 3 weeks of big business so quickly??
Because … during the 3 weeks I was in that office – I ensured everyone who was with me had the same core values, or if they didn’t have the same values … at least, I was convinced they wanted to have the same values as me.
It’s something I learned when I was just a sales executive in Tokyo …
At the time, I had no power because I was just a newly hired sales staff, but I saw firsthand how one negative staff – destroyed, or nearly destroyed the bunch.
It was a brilliant management training course – because I saw firsthand how just one negative employee, destroyed the potential success of many – like cancer.
Three years after my Hong Kong adventure, I was based in Europe and was transferred to run the Barcelona office ….Barcelona was a massive office for the company in the number of staff who were in it, but shit figures when it came to business.
My first day in that office I fired at least 15 people, maybe a few more than that – people who came late, left early, or obviously didn’t want what I wanted.
That week, the office had the biggest week it ever had in the 2 years it was open …
(I am sure there are people who still talk about that first week because it was exceptional, like God came down and touched us)
Every manager falls in the trap of wanting to have as many staff as possible to “manage” … but the secret is not the number of staff a manager oversees, but to ensure everyone on the team has the same “core values.”
Much more can be achieved with a small group of people with the same values than can be achieved by a large group of people who have mixed values.
Maybe the best team I ever worked with was TEAM MONACO…
The team was made up of French, Italian, British, and American, but everyone worked together as a team – with the same goal, to be the best ….
From my experience, I dont believe that one can simply blanket the same management style over employees from France, India or China, etc, however, by ensuring the team/office have the same “core values” … the chance for consistency and success is far greater than simply just employing anyone for the job.
What “core values…” am I talking about….? will be discussed tomorrow.
I intentionally, do not use examples from naseba to discuss my point in this blog … this is not to say that we are perfect, or that everyone at naseba has the same “core values”
Unfortunately, as we have expanded, senior management (me included) have slipped in regards to sticking/ensuring everyone has the same “core values.”
I am certain this has slowed us down; prevented us from climbing faster and more efficiently – something which is being reviewed and addressed.
Today I spoke on the phone with a journalist in Dubai about how the idea to do 7 ironman in 7 day challenge came about – it was over a “friday night dinner” in Portofino, Italy with Jason Gorud…
He and I were enjoying a great dinner right on the port, literally a few feet from the sea … discussing our 40th year challenges (we both turned 40 in 2011) and I jokingly mentioned the idea of doing an ironman on each of the seven emirates in seven days….
Instantly, he raised his wine glass and bet me a box of Monte Cristo ”A” cigars that I couldn’t do it … his way of making sure I go after this challenge…
anyways – after my conversation with the journalist, I thought about this blog entry … so decided to repost it.
Even if you have read this entry before — “don’t just sit back waiting for your life to happen…”
this title says it all
In Tokyo, on a Friday back in October of 1998…
I was the sales director of the Tokyo office.
We had a big week.
The newly, transferred General Manager of the office, an American, Jason Gorud invited me to dinner to celebrate the big week.
He took me to “il Pinolo” which was considered (at the time) the best restaurant in Tokyo.
The restaurant was very small, if I remember correctly, it had only 10 tables.
We sat at the third table in the gorgeous dining room; the best table in the restaurant.
I didn’t know Jason well; he had been in the office for less than one week, but we had several things in common – mainly, we are both from the Midwest in America and we had both lived in Japan for several years.
Up until that dinner, I had never ordered a bottle of wine because I didn’t drink alcohol.
However, after Jason persuaded me with talk about Ernest Hemingway (one of my favorite authors) as well as his favorite novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, “Zorba the Greek,” I agreed to “experience” wine.
Jason ordered a white New Zealand wine, “Cloudy Bay.”
We spent 4-5 hours discussing our aspirations, dreams and goals.
I remember discussions on leading adventurous, Hemingway-esque lives.
I remember Jason talking about…dreaming of living a life like Zorba.
It was a great, memorable dinner.
The following Monday…
Before work began, I went up to Jason’s office and suggested that if the sales for the office broke the previous weeks figure – we should go back to Il Pinolo again. Jason excitedly, agreed.
Like magic, I had another big week and the office beat the previous week’s sales…
what drove me that week was to ensure we went back to Il Pinolo for dinner.
By chance, we sat at the same table and we both instinctively, sat in the same seats as before – Jason to my right.
We stuck to the same ritual as the Friday before – one glass of champagne to start and then one bottle of Cloudy Bay.
Again, we spent the evening dreaming and discussing setting simple goals…
Like the previous Friday night, we were the last table to leave the restaurant.
Over the next 10 months, we turned this end of work week dinner into a prize:
we would work our asses off during the week to be able to go out to dinner on Friday night, eat great food, drink great wine and celebrate life.
But if we slacked off, missed the numbers or generally failed to deliver on the goals we set for ourselves, we would have no FND.
In 10 months, we only missed one FND, and it was very early on so we learned from our mistakes.
Very quickly, Jason started to call the dinner “FND” for “Friday Night Dinner.”
“Ritual” is important to both of us.
Over time we developed certain rituals, which became a sort of rule set:
- we must always wear suits
- the FND must occur at the best, or one of the best rated restaurants in the city the FND takes place.
- Jason always sits to my right
- no guests are allowed, not even wives, friends or family
- one Friday I pay, the next Friday Jason pays (even if the next FND doesnt happen for months)
- one glass of champagne to start
- we limit ourselves to one bottle of wine during the dinner (we dont want to become drunk)
- we document every “Friday Night Dinner” in the same Hermes leather journal
To this day, we still adhere to these ‘rules’ as a way of differentiating an FND from just another nice dinner.
One FND we got into an argument about which restaurant had the better view– “New York Grill” in Tokyo (not our usual FND location, but one of the more iconic restaurants in Tokyo) or “Felix” in Hong Kong….
Both have stunning views, but I bet the airplane tickets that “Felix” in Hong Kong had the better view.
Around midnight, we went straight to the airport (about a 3 hour train ride from Tokyo) and flew early that morning to Hong Kong, booked rooms in The Peninsula (where Felix is located) and enjoyed a Saturday night dinner to judge who was right.
After a great meal and a bottle of Cloudy Bay, we both agreed, the view from “Felix” was not better than the view from “The New York Grill,” thus I lost the bet.
At the time, we were both 27 years old and the internet didn’t dominate our lives like it does today.
You couldn’t just “google” something.
Reflecting back, it didn’t seem crazy or extravagant — debating with your friend on which restaurant has a better view of two amazing cities – one in Tokyo or one in Hong Kong, and then going straight from one restaurant in Tokyo to the airport to catch the first flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong to see who is right ….
….that’s what the FND turned into – pushing ourselves into experiencing life, doing crazy challenges, and most importantly NOT talking about what we were going to do, but challenging each other to make it happen.
Just a few quick examples…
Over an FND, we decided to go to Africa and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Several months later, we summited Mt. Kilimanjaro in a white out snow storm. A few days after the summit, we went on a 5 day safari in the world’s largest, most incredible wild life reserve.
Over a FND, Jason told me he was getting married and asked me to be his best man…
Over a FND, Jason challenged me to swim across the English channel … three months later, I did.
Within a year or so of the original FND, we both moved our separate ways to different countries, and while (individually) we ended up moving on with our lives, the FND ritual still remained important to us.
At least once a year, since 1998, We have organized our schedules to enjoy an FND – recently, several times a year.
Up until now, Jason and I have had an FND in many different countries at some of the most famous restaurants in the world, including, but not limited to restaurants in:
Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Nairobi, Amsterdam, Zurich, Rome, Florence, Venice, Paris, Lyon, St Tropez, Monaco, London, Beverly Hills just to name a few….
The FND is not about the dinner, or silly rituals or idle chit chat.
The FND is about consistency, focus and ultimately — achievement.
The FND is our incentive…
An incentive for us to work hard to try and make our lives happen — our incentive to ensure we don’t just sit back and allow life to happen around us.
(we have since taken the FND ritual to a whole new level with the FND trip – trips organized once a year around food, wine and seeing cool shit…
for those interested: http://www.scottragsdale.com/?p=3827)
on Dec.28, 2008, under other
Todays blog is a theme I have written about before, but I think it is a theme which everyone (me included) from time to time needs to be reminded.
I am in Cairo for the next few days. On the 3 hour flight from Zurich to Cairo, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a talkative American who spent a couple of hours telling the woman next to him how he was once a great baseball player, almost major league, but he got into a drunk driving accident was kicked off his team and forced to retire.
I did not hear in his voice that he regreted drinking and driving …. what I heard was regret for not being able to play baseball anymore.
As this man was excitedly telling us about how great he once was…. and how great he “could have been” … it made me think about something my dad said to me a long time ago:
“you’re only as good as your last sale…”
Todays conversation with my new friend got me thinking…
Too many people live on their past success …. forgetting what they did last year does not matter anymore, it is what we are doing today.
This is not directed just towards sales people …. but it is a very interesting thought to reflect upon.
It doesn’t matter if we were once great yesterday…. the last thing we will be judged by is our last “sale,” i.e. our last performance of today.
on Nov.09, 2008, under stick to the pitch
An old friend gave me a good topic for the blog today …
He said to Fabien, “at naseba Sales Managers will always be expected to sell…”
As if he was suggesting that at other companies…its much better because managers get to “manage” but at naseba they are expected to “sell.”
I think, looking back to when I was a sales manager, I probably felt exactly the same way many young sales people do …. I looked forward to the day I would become a ”manager” … and not have to sell anymore…
But then I became a General Manager and realized the only thing that matters are “deals,” i.e. business …
…and to ensure my offices were the best; to ensure my staff followed and looked up to me; to ensure I had some form of power in the company — I led by example in sales.
Today I am not involved with the sale like I was then … however, even as a CEO I am still selling ….
We (Sophie and I) pulled off the ultimate sale taking naseba public two years ago … but even after that I have to sell the market; I have to sell governments; sometimes I need to be involved with selling big sponsor clients; I have to sell Fabien, Nic and Sophie when they do not agree with me; I have to sell when I am negotiating with a company we are in negotiations to buy …. etc. etc. etc.
I have to sell all the time.
But the truth is…. Do I really need to travel all the time “selling,” i.e. meeting investors, potential targets, potential deals, governments, etc…
NO … if I only want to “just succeed,” but I do not want to “just succeed” … I want to become the best – therefore, I pick up the phone and get on with it.
Reflecting back to M.E. (the only reason I bring this company up again is because we have many readers who can relate to that company) Most people think Marcus is not involved with sales …. but Marcus is one of the most shrewd and cunning sales people I have ever met.
Marcus is selling constantly… and his ultimate sale is the fact nearly all of his staff do not know what he looks like … so they work as hard as they can to have the chance of meeting him.
Although a couple people might disagree … in my opinion, the only way someone can lead and manage, whether a sales team, a sales floor or a company is by being involved in the sale.
Fabien Faure is the managing director of the group — although he is no longer involved with day to day “sales,” he is still selling … when he has production meetings, challenging the Production Director on his teams products. He is still selling when he meets partners and clients, negotiating terms and conditions. He is still selling when he is managing or reviewing the other directors in the group.
So lets say…. you become a sales manager or even a sales director….general manager of an office….what do you expect your role to be?
Spend the day dictating memos; writing reports…
But never forget – if your team has no sales, then there are no reports to write.
My goal is to become a great Chairman and CEO — and build naseba into a massively profitable multi-hundred million euro group. There is no way I will achieve this if I sit in my nice big office, smoke cigars and dictate memos. No way. Not to mention, it is extremely boring to just have reviews and do memos.
Look at the greatest business men/leaders in the world … Eisner, Jack Welch, Alwaleed, Trump, i do not care who it is, surely, they were great sales men or women and even at the top, they were still some what involved in sales because they were/are always negotiating.
Furthermore, I was with Nic and LP in Egypt meeting with one of LPs clients for a massive lead sponsorship – far bigger than any sale I sold when I was in sales …. Nic is the group sales director, so he is ontop of the sale and leads by example — LP the number 2 sales person in the company knows his product like the back of his hand so both of them were absolutely brilliant during our negotiations.
There is no way, LP would have been able to create this deal if he was leading by memo, or sitting in a small office pretending to be busy….
Life is one big sale and results are the only thing that matters …. it does not matter if you can write the best memo, or lead the best training school — if you are a sales manager who is so far removed from the sale that you can not sell the product anymore — you will fail.
I think all this all comes back to an overall theme which I keep blogging about, “wanting it all and wanting it right now” … and when it does not come immediately, ”F… it I will find something else to want …”
I keep reminding everyone….
“the man at the top did not fall there…”
Instead of trying to rush to the top of your mountain, climbing up part way and then turning around and walking back down because you do not reach your summit right away….stay focused and keep climbing.
on Sep.19, 2008, under ode to...
The world is witnessing something that Alan Greenspan recently called a “once in a century” occurance.
Furthermore, non-stop headlines about banks going bankrupt, hurricane destruction, constant talk of recession/ great depression surely makes it hard for most to be excited and positive about the future…..some scary stuff is happening in the world right now.
I can imagine most sales people in the world – no matter what they are selling or where they are working - are concerned about the future – which probably makes them pyschologically at a disadvantage to sell.
On Monday of this week LP broke 1,000,000 million euros in sales for 2008.
For some readers 1 million euros might not sound like much – but when the average package price is 30,000 euros …. selling 1 million euros is exceptional.
3 days later – by Thursday afternoon, LP has written another 200,000 euros in business so he broke 1,250,000. In 3 days he has made nearly 25,000 euros in commisson – LP is 23 years old.
Because of LP’s positive – nothing is going to stop me from succeeding – make it happen attitude, some other people in the office are being positively influenced – so far this week, our Dubai office has sold 412,000 euros for the week — the biggest week ever for the Dubai office…(i am flying to Paris this morning and i expect the office should do more business today)
Instead of focusing on the negatives – LP finds the opportunity.
For those readers who work at naseba or who know LP – reflect on LP’s success (esp. his success this week) and think why he succeeds. He never complains. He never whines/moans/bitches. Instead – he focuses on being positive – and makes his job and life happen.