Dead Man Walking: 5 Ways to Become an Ex-Employee

By: Julie Crisara

Everybody has a dream, and some people’s dream is getting fired. Ya know- canned, pink-slipped, see ya later alligator! Okay, I don’t know positively for sure that being let go is their dream, but observing some sales managers in the home contracting industry, it sure seems like it. I mean, if these guys weren’t trying to get cut loose then they just coincidentally happened to be doing the very same things that’ll send you out the door and down to the Unemployment office faster than you can say “Invoice attached.”

I don’t want anyone to get fired, especially if they actually like and want to keep their job. I have a special soft spot for people in the contracting industry, because I’ve spent decades actually working in that field and also as a consultant helping other contractors improve their business, using the things I have learned and observed over the years. But I realized that it’s so easy and so common for seemingly bright and well-intentioned contracting sales managers to make decisions that were really detrimental- and self-destructive- in the long run without even knowing it. It turns out, a lot of this stuff is NOT just common sense!

Instead of telling you- a current or aspiring sales manager or other supervisory position in the home plumbing, HVAC or electrical contracting field- what to do to keep your job, I’m going to tell you what to do to get fired. If you don’t want to get fired, just use reverse engineering.

1.) NO INSTANT SOLUTIONS

First, make sure that your service people, those eager, dedicated employees who work under you, point out problems to the customers, frequently and vociferously, but DON’T offer any instantaneous solutions. Like, say your guy in the field comes across a leaking hose bibb. Don’t encourage him to immediately sell them a frost-proof hose bibb, which will probably eliminate the problem by preventing freeze-cracking for at least several seasons. No just have him tell them the problem and stand there for a few minutes… perhaps complimenting their choice of house paint, or having a side conversation with the cat.

Or let’s say your electrical guy shows up at a house and sees that they don’t have any GFCI’s, but they’ve got outlets near water sources, utility spaces and the outside. Just have him explain how horrendously dangerous and ill-advised it is to have electricity near those potentially wet areas and how it could cause a deadly electrical shock, maybe even a huge fire! Coach your field tech to then take his time letting the customer freak out about this imminent disaster before volunteering that he could install GFCI’s in all the current receptacles- but by then the customer is already scrolling through Yelp trying to find a “highly recommended” electrician. Throwing out problems that are not followed closely by solutions, done by YOUR guy and YOUR company, immediately if not sooner, is a great way, over time, to get someone fired.

2.) DO NOT CONNECT WITH THE CUSTOMER

When given choices, how often is the difference between the company we go with- and go back to again and again- and the one we storm out on half way through the transaction, based on a HUMAN INTERACTION that we might have? It could be just a sales person or a service rep asking you enough questions outside the realm of selling you something that you feel like they care about you as a person.

So, if you want to make sure you’re on the road to changing jobs, have the service reps who work for you show up, do the fix, sell the replacement product and then get out of there in a hurry. Do NOT create a culture of making a genuine, deep connection with the customer among your employees. No, just tell them to make a minute of light chit chat with the homeowner about the weather, sports or the latest zombie TV show, and then get on to the “job at hand.”

Do not tell them that the job at hand actually includes asking the customer real, meaningful questions about themselves, their family, their house, and their wants and needs with respect to those things. Do not have your field reps create an invested, emotional bond. Instead tell them to make trite jokes, mostly about themselves, and then immediately shove grounded three-prong receptacles and condenser coils in their face. That’ll just about guarantee long-term failure.

3.) STICK WITH THE QUOTA

Have your team strive to meet the sales quota each time, but nothing more. Don’t shoot higher than that, don’t view the quota as a bottom marker, a bare minimum, the attainment of which will allow your company to just get by. Really instill in your service reps that eking out the quota each period equals winning to

the highest degree. Reward and congratulate attainment of the quota- throw a party, break out the bubbly, bake a cake! When your guys replace or sell just enough compressors, dampers, dual flushes and trapways to meet that magic number, give them a raise!

Sure, some employees might be limited in their abilities to always be meet-the-quota guys, but with those others that have hard-charging potential and a real spark, don’t cultivate that and push them, just be complacent so that they become complacent.

4.) SOME DAY, OVER THE SALES RAINBOW

Constantly tell yourself- and instill in your team- that everyone will be happy when the numbers go way up. The job will magically become like a vacation in tropical paradise when we just spike over that point on the sales graph right there.

Don’t do things to improve morale around the office and the job. Don’t operate on the false assumption that people live by a work atmosphere and a job that makes sense to them, makes them feel appreciated and rewarded, and one in which they have a feeling of confidence and ownership. Just keep pointing to digits representing a number that will set us all free. If we just sell X amount of shielded cable or single phase circuits, AccuClean or SpineFin, all the daily issues and stresses will dissolve away.

Convince yourself and your employees that higher sales improves morale, not that higher morale improves sales. Don’t present them with a clear vision of the company, with an idea of the benefits to each member of this well thought out plan. Don’t create a list of specific, achievable actions that are broken down into very doable, non-intimidating pieces, and don’t have ownership fully endorse this plan.

5.) HAVE THE STAR PLAYERS DEFINE THE WHOLE TEAM

It’s easy to become starry-eyed and super proud of your consistent high achievers, those contracting team members who knock it out of the park regularly with big sales and a wide customer base. But definitely, keep on idolizing those guys who wield the Louisville Slugger, so to speak, and hit high sales marks, while all but ignoring the middling performers and borderline sub-standards who barely drag along carrying their own weight. Owners love wild inconsistency and the parading of an impressive few at the expense of the mediocre many among your team.

And make a point of taking credit for the star performer’s stats, as if it was mainly your brilliance in training and coaching that created an all-star, and not that person’s innate drive, tenacity and all around ability. I mean, it’s not like that super achiever would do well at any company, right?

Don’t live by the adage that a manager is ultimately defined by his worst performing employees and that lower performance on display will harm and bring down the morale and the drive of OTHER employees! And don’t even think about the possibility that other employees will resent the lower performers for costing the whole company time and money, thereby requiring them to work even harder to compensate and keep the whole firm afloat.

IN CONCLUSION

If you’re a contracting sales manager or other higher up I’ve laid out 5 excellent ways to get fired. And a lot of these points also apply directly to the service reps in the field. It’s up to you. Do these things if you want a sudden career or employer change, or if you just want to work on your golf game or binge watch Netflix. But do the opposite if you want to excel and take your team and your company to a level of performance, revenue and morale you had never thought possible.

To learn more about how to keep you and your team from avoiding these mistakes, take a look at our coaching memberships from ContractingSelling.com: http://www.contractorselling.com/public/department150.cfm.

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