I'd like to share a couple of stories about two young women who wanted to get into sales. Both succeeded in getting jobs rather quickly. However, after only brief stints, they're both out of the business, at least temporarily. In both cases problems with leadership and training were to blame. It bothers me to see this kind of thing happen. Unfortunately, it's not an uncommon occurrence.
The first story involves a woman who was an executive secretary. She's bright, energetic and full of enthusiasm. She talked to me about getting into sales, and I urged her to give it a try. I talked to her about the travel, rejection and all the other things she could expect as she began her new career. It didn't take long for her to land a job with a young, aggressive company in the electronics field. It looked like a good deal. She was told she would have to relocate from her home in Chicago, but she was looking forward to the move and couldn't wait to get started. I was excited for her because she had all the attributes needed for success.
The week before she was to begin she had lunch with the fellow who would be her supervisor. He told her among other things that they would spend her first week in the field making calls. She called to tell me this, and I wished her luck and told her to keep me posted. Almost 10 days passed before I heard from her again. But she already had resigned from her new job. It took me a while to get the story out of her, but I learned two things triggered her decision. The first occurred when she and her new boss were dining with a client. The boss apparently felt compelled to tell an off-color story and asked her to leave the table until he finished doing so. Imagine treating a 25-year-old woman like a little girl and embarrassing her in front of a client. That happened the second night out on the maiden trip for the sales rookie. What happened the next night was even more despicable. The so-called boss suggested they should sleep together. The guy was obviously a first-class jerk, and here he was in a supervisory role. He couldn't have had much training and obviously wasn't a leader by any stretch of the imagination. And he managed to destroy the enthusiasm and expectations of a young employee who simply wanted to prove herself and start a new career. This is inexcusable conduct and can never be tolerated by any company.
The second story is a little different. This young woman had always wanted to get into textbook sales. She's in her late 20s and had been employed as a physical therapist. She's also very talented and has plenty of determination. She finally made up her mind to pursue a job in sales, so she sent her resume to a number of publishers. Almost immediately one of the best companies in that business contacted her and flew her to the East Coast for a series of interviews. She landed the job and was very excited. However, for the first couple of months she was on the road almost constantly. It was grueling, and her supervisor was absent virtually the whole time. She became discouraged and depressed, and she too resigned. Later she told me that aside from the fact she didn't like the heavy travel, there just wasn't anyone she could talk to. She ended up feeling lost and thought nobody cared.
Here are two very capable individuals who were eager to jump into new careers. But because their employers offered poor training and incompetent leadership, they've lost interest in their chosen field, at least for the time being. I hear too many stories like these. When someone is hired, no matter what the job or the company, he or she must be given the courtesy of adequate training and supervision. That's only fair and proper. Furthermore, those who will be training and managing others should be thoroughly screened and trained. Having supervisory power is a heavy responsibility, and those who abuse that privilege must be reprimanded or even terminated.
Sure it's a tough world out there, but it shouldn't be made any tougher just because those in positions of leadership don't have what it takes to do the job.
Leadership training is a must,Charles S. Lauer