About 15 years ago, as my wife and I were embarking into the realm of horses I was exposed to a truly awe inspiring happening. My wife, Myrna, had been working with training horses and I regularly watched her ride and assisted with the barn chores.  I believed I had acquired a certain familiarity with this newly discovered creature, but my elementary indoctrination had not adequately primed me for my first unforgettable encounter with the impassioned unfeigned Equus.  For the first time in my life, on what was to be a predictable visit with my Uncle Jay and Aunt Donna, I came face to face with two perfect creatures sent from the mythical gods.

Excalibur

The event was the Annual Jdon Farms Open House which they held to showcase their Andalusian horse breeding vocation.  After seeing over a hundred beautiful horses, Donna said she had something special to show me.  Since she was a woman not known to exaggerate excitement, my anticipation leapt as we moved through the barn passageways towards the back of the barn.  As we advanced, my own heartbeat was overtaken by the rhythmic sound of a triumphant trotting.  We rounded the corner and I was presented to the stallion Excalibur, and with a gasp I divulged a whispered “Oh my God!”  I stood open-mouthed as this glorious creature shook the atmosphere through the casual sauntering about his stall.  I stole a step back as he approached.  Soaring high over me, he shook and set his unyielding mane flying, letting me know this was his world I had interloped upon.

Just as I caught my breath, I felt Donna’s hand on my arm as she beckoned, “If you think he is unbelievable, come see this.”  As we headed towards a stall in a dimly lit section of the barn, I heard jostling and commotion.  Coming closer I became aware of two men with arms waving attempting to control what I could only make out as a pair of flashing flaming eyes.  As I peered deeper into the lair, I saw the embodiment of a raging beast.  Donna told me they were getting ready to take him out now and we should go outside where he will be shown.  I sat alongside two nuns, as I waited by the bridle path for this colossus to appear. Moments later, led by his fearless trainer, Genio, a glistening black stallion with a white stared forehead began his vigorous march towards us.  With nostrils flaring, he stormed forward memorizing the attention of everyone.  As he high-stepped within inches of us, one of the nuns looked up and unconsciously murmured, “Holy Shit!”

Genio

Even more amazing was that as each of these unconquerable stallions was asked to perform, they immediately gained composure and lightness as they focused on their tasks with commanding precision and adeptness.  Their restless heroic agitation metamorphosed into a graceful ravishing dance and seized the heartbeat and breath of everyone present.  Excalibur and Genio amassed an incontestable presence of greatness incarnate.

I have spent 30 years observing, interacting, trying to manage and leading Salespeople.  As I reflect on these legions of sellers, I am easily able to sort them into two groups: “the average” and “the great”.  Although many of the typical run-of–the-mill Salespeople have definitely made a steady and reliable contribution towards results, it is the “great ones” who I recollect.  Often unsung heroes of the business world, these rare individuals possess the qualities to create breakthrough growth and new identities for a company.  They are the Stallions of Industry.

You might be able to manage an ordinary Salesperson, but you must be prepared to “Lead” if you desire to maximize the yields of a Top Salesperson.

The average Salesperson is elementary to ascertain. They attend meetings on-time, pay close attention following the agenda and take notes.  They accurately fill out your sales reports and submit their expense reports on time.  They follow the plan laid out for them attaining their goals on a regular basis.  They always have time for a friendly chat and are remarkably skillful at making you feel important.  It is comfortable to dedicate time to them as they become moldable images of your direction.  There is nothing wrong with this group of performers and often they make up the substance of your sales force.

Genio

Then there is the other breed.  They reject the imposition of structure at every turn. If meetings are not for their direct advantage, you are wasting their time.  They are show-boats and flaunt their presence with unobvious means. Your reports, your rules and your plans are viewed as harnesses averting them from running their own path.  They
produce extraordinary results which set them apart from everyone else.  They have inadequate time for your agendas and will push back on direct intervention.  In short, they can drive you to the brink.

Look around your next sales meeting.  Do you detect several pairs of fire breathing eyes, ready to defy convention, shifting in place and chomping at the bit to get out of the room so they can sell something?  Do you see any astonishing Salespeople?  If not, you have serious recruiting work to do.  Scott Lazarus, the owner of Office Furniture Group and one of my current mentors, has a philosophical mantra for hiring Top Salespeople.  It is simply, “Hire the Studs!”  As a Sales Leader you must acquire the skills, campaigns and facility to identify, attract, engage and hire the best Salespeople in your industry.  Without Top Salespeople you will find yourself in a very “comfortable” position managing a middling sales group creating average results.

With the attraction of Top Salespeople to your team, you must discard any hope of managing them.  Pulling or pushing a Stallion will only induce a trampling or a kick in the teeth.  Leading them involves walking alongside them with advice, guidance and support.  Top Salespeople who are the best in their field, regardless of titles, are comparable in skill and talent to any upper level executive.  Any attempt to subordinate them will only drive them to your competitors.  Their personal goals are always higher than the organizations.  You only need to help them focus and maintain perspective in the face of the difficult challenges they face every day, to realize unparalleled successes.

A Street Smart Leader knows when he has a Stallion on his hands and how to lead him to championship performance.  Rather than concentrating on management principles, your job is to bring out and usher the talent of Top Salespeople. The interaction with these Top Salespeople can be challenging, but master the skills of a fearless trainer and you will own the show.

And for those of you who are wondering the about the lasting impact Excalibur and Genio left with me – we’ll let’s just say I was inspired to integrate the equine experience into my life!  Below is a picture of my wife riding my faithful steed, Amador.  Uncle Jay, Aunt Donna and Amador are no longer with us, but I carry with me the unforgettable exalting sensation of riding mountaintops with a divine Charger.

Myrna riding Amador

 

 

Excalibur and Genio paintings by Leslie Harrison

http://www.harrison-keller.com/index.htm

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