A couple of weeks ago I walked into a room of salaried employees and presented the following scenario:
“I have spoken to your senior management and they wanted me to inform you that starting next week, your compensation arrangements are changing. From next Monday on, your income will be solely based on the amount of business you bring in. You each have a choice to either accept this new arrangement or be placed into another position. By a show of hands, how many will willingly accept these new terms?” Of the twenty or so sitting in the room, how many do you think raised their hand?
I was visiting with a business owner regarding the slump in sales his company was experiencing. As we began delving into the cause and symptoms of his recent condition, it was discovered that some of his sales folks were on a rather nice “startup” pay structure which basically gave them no skin in the game for about six months. What this means is that they get paid whether they bring any business in or not, for a while…Something had to change and it did; and it worked!
Now I may have already stepped on some toes, but before your judgement hammer strikes, hear me out. First of all, I am not against a salaried position of ANY kind. I believe a person who performs their job to the best of their ability, displays an honest work ethic and is productive, is more than worthy of the accepted, agreed upon guarantee at the end of a pay period. It is those who take advantage of the system that bothers me, I.e. those with the mentality that no matter what, no consequences, no loss, no stake in the game, I’ll still get what I always get…until someone notices. Now that being said, are any of you curious about how the two stories above came out? Read on.
First story: After making what seemed to be such a profound statement, one hand in the middle of the room went up. It belonged to a very ambitious young man. He asked, “Does that mean that there is no limit to what I can bring in?” I went along with the scenario and said, “Yes that’s correct.” He replied, “I’ll take that deal…I’m hungry for more!” As a side note it is important to also state that this particular industry always compensated in this salaried structure format, so to be fair, to change to a volume based or commission based pay scale involuntarily and suddenly, would certainly be a HUGE undertaking. Nonetheless the point is someone saw the potential to satisfy a big appetite!
Second Story: As the conversation with the business owner ended, we came to some conclusions on how to remedy this situation. A, he could cut back significantly which meant firing some beloved employees or B, sell their way back into success. He chose B, but pay attention to how he chose that option. He took the majority of the “start-up” pay away and provided just enough to help get things going or sustain them while they built their business. The business owner later told me the best thing he did, however, was hire a sales staff that was “hungry” to work and make something happen. It became clear that the startup pay was not the real issue, rather identifying the right folks with the right approach to wanting to make something from their personal opportunity…the desire to seek and produce versus wait and take. His business sales have erupted since then!
Do you notice the operative word in both scenarios? We can learn a lot from both of these examples. The questions we must ask and answer individually is, how hungry are you, and how willingly are you ready to hunt? Hunger is a powerful influencing factor. It is motivation in and of itself!
When I started my sales career I heard experienced sales people say “You will eat what you kill” which means if your livelihood comes from what you bring in, you better be a great hunter, but more importantly, you better understand…just because you satisfied your current hunger pains, you will become hungry again and again and again and again… This is a topic all to itself. Moving on.
Finally, hunger is a universal craving. Regardless of what you do, you can acquire an appetite for more opportunities, for more productivity. So my challenge is two fold. First: Become the best hunter you can be. Sharpen your skills, keep your resources sharp and ready for use and second, perhaps even more important, never stop hunting for opportunities. Stay hungry for more out of work and out of life. If you ever lose your appetite, you’ll starve. Something to think about!
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