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Seagull management

Seagull management

By Bill Blades

I wrote about “Seagull Management” in the November/December issue. This article expands on a few of the sub-topics.

It’s talked about, but only a very small percentage of corporations focus on maintaining and nourishing it. Proof? Less than 5 percent of my clients can tell me, without looking, what their mission statement even says. How about asking your group what yours states? And, how will you insure that your statement is real in 2017? Of course, your leaders must have the talents for enhancing your culture. Job one.

I wrote that I often hear “I really like him” as a key reason for hiring an individual. I received this comment from a Wisconsin distributor after three key individuals had interviewed a veteran salesperson and were excited about hiring him. I reviewed his personality profile which detailed the candidate would be liked by many. But he was a low-driver and would be atrocious with details.

I met with the candidate with the leaders present. I gave the candidate a half-day test to do one particular assignment “to see if we’re right for each other.” I injected some details I wanted to hear from him at lunch time. Out of the four or five details I requested, he didn’t complete a single one. I knew from his profile and our quick interview that he was a poor listener, which would keep him from hearing details from his clients (and me). Naturally, we didn’t hire him.

Have your leaders been mentored on how to effectively interview? You must provide this assistance, as making a faulty hiring decision is expensive and the bad hire will chew up your time that should be invested elsewhere.

Training and Education
Instead of a haphazard training and education plan for 2017, I suggest your initial and ongoing thrusts lie with mentoring the top sales chief and regional managers.

Pouring money into sales force training without maximum development of those at the top first is backwards execution and not a wise expenditure. CEOs often think they have a perfectly fine vice president of sales. Only 1 percent to 2 percent fit the bill. The CEO often has never seen what a great one looks like. Get a professional mentor who specializes with sales chiefs. The sooner you act in 2017, the sooner revenues ramp up. “He’s pretty good” is far from being good enough. I’m talking greatness. Nothing less than a “9” sales chief is your goal!

One Texas distributor had revenues of exactly $50 million for five consecutive years. The CEO found a more appropriate position for his V.P. of sales. I then served as interim V.P., flying in just one week monthly. In 18 months, we were running at $87 million. Effectiveness was the remedy. The new V.P. I worked with for years is now CEO with revenues that will scrape $300 million for 2016. He was a “10” V.P. as is his replacement. One “10” is better than 10 fives.

How great will 2017 be for you? It depends on how proactive the CEO and V.P. are – and will be. Your rewards will be based on how progressive you are.

Bill BladesBill Blades, CMC, CPSP, is a speaker and consultant specializing in sales and leadership. He can be contacted at or (480) 556-1467. Also visit

This article originally appeared in the Jan./Feb. 2017 issue of Industrial Supply magazine. Copyright 2017, Direct Business Media.


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