Know, Grow, Sow

You and I probably would agree that knowledge is a necessary foundation for success. Seeking, pondering, and arranging information in a way that makes sense of our niche.

I recently consulted with a company with about twenty million dollars in annual revenue from the sale of document processing equipment and services (Copiers, Printers, Cutters, shredders, service contracts, etc.). Their biggest problem was employee turnover, specifically in the sales department.

The company paid its new sales reps a base salary between $35,000-48,000/year along with a cellular phone, car allowance, and laptop. After ninety days they offered health insurance, a 401K with match, and paid vacation days. That all sounded reasonable for a company of their size in that market sector. However, their average sales rep lasted thirteen months!


Here's what shocked me. Management refused to sanction any formal training program for the sales department! The Sales Manager (and VP of Sales) believed that each person had to learn everything on their own after acquainting them with the very basics (like, "Your job is to set appointments and go on them. Ask basic questions, return to the office, and study the brochures to find a solution").

Management adopted this approach to ensure that no one interfered with other Sales Rep's time, including the Sales Manager, because "It is a dog eat dog world out there!" Every person had to "earn their keep" and "prove they wanted to do the job."

Is it surprising that the culture of the company reflected the "dog eat dog" mentality? No one genuinely trusted anyone else!

I made three recommendations:

First, the implementation of a one-week long intensive training program that covered every aspect of their business from A to Z. I outlined a Training Manuel that I expected the Management Team to write. And I created five mock written "tests", too.

Do you agree that knowledge is not "success." Unless applied, knowledge is almost worthless.

My second recommendation was the implementation of a Growth Monitor - a system of routines, activities, and progress notes based on the company's expectations and sales goals. And a determination to do it!

If knowing is the foundation of success, growing is the structure built by it.

Growing means taking actions like thinking, doing, applying, and checking. Without growing, stagnation and cynicism set in. And when that happens, a fall is inevitable. And we all know how costly failure can be to the future! Very few people will do anything very long only for money. People need reasons that go beyond material things.

So, I recommended that the company start Mentorship. This meant matching up every employee, even the most senior person, with someone to mentor them and someone that they mentored!

Success can only be achieved through teamwork.

If you are a one-man company or a one-woman-show, you won't succeed unless you have counsel. That's teamwork. Moreover, you can't succeed at leadership unless you are giving counsel! Leadership is doing! All leaders have two things in common: followers and following! Someone is following them and they are following someone else! Leaders are fully engaged people.

As John Maxwell said in his 1997 book The Success Journey, success is defined as:

Knowing your purpose in life

Growing to reach your potential

Sowing seeds that benefit others

Know, Grow, and Sow!

Glenn Rutland

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