“You don’t have to do anything.” This was the kind of boss we’d like. It was Bill’s first address to the Scottish office since being parachuted in as regional manager.
It was 9am and he was introducing himself... and his methods. He’d not even sold Book Club membership before. So what could he teach us? Bill had been regional manager for a doubleglazing company before – hardly proper training for this, the ‘real McCoy’ of door-to-door selling.
At least that’s what we thought.
Bill had started by asking one of the team managers what he was going to do today. The unfortunate team manager (TM) had started his reply with the words “Well, I have to …” That was when Bill interrupted with the line above, leaving the TM and the rest of us confused. As an attention grabber, Bill’s “You don’t have to do anything,” has done its job. He then asked the TM to continue.
“Well, I’m going to map out my team member’s territory…”
“That’s a little better,” interrupted Bill again, adding, “but still not perfect.”
The TM just looked at him, fearful that any further utterance would draw more puzzling comment. Bill stood up from his chair and walked from behind his desk.
“Look, there are three ways of thinking, saying and doing anything. Anyone care to guess what they are?”
A lad called Pat put his hand up like a teacher’s pet at school. Bill obviously hadn’t expected anyone to say anything at this stage and was near to starting his prepared sentence but felt obliged to indulge Pat. “Go ahead.”
“Well, Better, or Not At All!” Pat was proud of himself. He’d started as the most negative thinker we’d had but he’d embarked on a transformative journey. He oozed the zeal of the convert.
Peter leaned over to me, whispering, “Pat’s been on the Solpadeine again.” Bill, was taken aback by Pat’s exaggerated enthusiasm but praised him anyway before getting back to his point.
“You don’t have to do anything. You are free men and women.
No one is forcing you to do a thing. The three ways of doing things are Negatively, Neutrally and Positively.”
Pat’s hand went up. Bill’s eyes rolled a little but he had to appear inclusive. Pat was a little hyper and he probably, in fact, had been on The ‘Sulph’ as we’d come to call Solpadeine, a medicine Pat had continued to take long after the illness he’d recently taken it for had passed.
“Bill, are you saying that we don’t have to do anything but that we should want to do things?”
Bill was visibly impressed. “Exactly. You don’t have to go and map out territory. You want to go and map out territory. Why? Because doing it properly will earn you more money. There are lots of reasons to want to do things. Build your desire to do things that way. Get it into your head that you want to do things that will improve your lives. Tell me, Pat, is it? What do you want from life?”
Without hesitating, Pat, now in full hype mode, almost yelled: “Your job!”
Bill took a shine to Pat. He was aware instantly of Pat’s issues but he admired Pat’s determination to single-mindedly focus on getting better in every sense. Together they worked on his personal development, the benefits of which became obvious to all over time, as well as his unhealthy near-addiction to prescribed medicines.
We followed suite. Not because we had to but because we…
By Bob Smith who has worked in sales for more than 30 years, works as an experienced recruiter, trainer & motivator and is also a published author of both children’s and adult titles.