Don’t kill the golden goose!

I had a great meeting with a former acquaintance looking for a solution to boost sales for his small professional services firm. A few minutes into the conversation revealed the following: 

1. The company hired a couple of young salespeople working for them full-time on straight commissions. Since it was a new initiative, my friend proposed a better-than-industry-standard incentive plan. (Believe me, it was a damn good plan!)

2. The salesmen helped the company increase sales by 389% over 18 months. They also brought 63 new clients. 

3. By the end of the first year, these young men made it to the highest-paid associates’ list. By month 18, they were the top 2 highest-earning employees of the company. 

4. On the first day of month 19, they were both fired. 

Strange right? I probed further to understand what happened and man, it was stupidly disappointing. The company’s managing director and chairperson didn’t like it that a couple of 20 somethings were earning way more than them! So, they fired the sales professionals with the following rationale:

A) The company now has a mature sales process and framework that anyone can operate. 

B) They have more clients than they can handle and should now focus on “maintaining” the clientele than client acquisition. 

C) The salespeople were becoming too arrogant. 

All of this happened in September last year, and the company is in bad shape. Why? They killed the Goose that laid the golden egg! The management didn’t want to share “the cut” they were giving away to the young “immature” salespeople. Why? God knows. Greed, jealously, insecurity, what else? 

I’ve seen and heard this (or a variant thereof) happen over and over again. And each time I’m reminded of “The Goose & the Golden Egg” from Aesop’s fables. Here it goes: 

There was once a Countryman who possessed the most wonderful Goose you can imagine. Every day when he visited the nest, the Goose had laid a beautiful, glittering, golden egg.

The Countryman took the eggs to market and soon began to get rich. But it was not long before he grew impatient with the Goose because she gave him only a single golden egg a day. He was not getting rich fast enough.

Then, after he had finished counting his money, the idea came to him that he could get all the golden eggs at once by killing the Goose and cutting it open. But when the deed was done, not a single golden egg did he find, and his precious Goose was dead.

Moral: Those who have plenty want more and so lose all they have.

If you’re an entrepreneur or a small business owner, you need to understand that Selling is the highest paid profession for a reason. It isn’t easy to persuade people to part their hard-earned money for something else, even if the product/service offers excellent value. Money is money at the end of the day. 

So, if you’ve got a bunch of salespeople selling like crazy, reward them. Please don’t compare your wallet’s size to theirs because the only reason you even have one is because they sold your service to someone who didn’t like, knew, or trusted you. 

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