Many years ago I was traveling in Florida with one of the best salespeople I have ever had the privilege of managing. I flew into town on a Monday night, rented a car and drove to the hotel. Jim (as we will call him) called me and told me what time he would pick me up-early as usual. I said, “don’t bother until 10:30AM.” Silence. He said, “what’s going on?” I said, “rearrange your appointments and pick me up at 10:30. And bring your clubs.”
The man was flabbergasted! We hit an upscale course the next day, one I had made reservations at. It was the off season so the course was practically deserted. We took a cart and played a leisurely 18 holes of golf. Neither of us kept score. The weather was perfect and both of us were in the mood for a day off. It was a completely enjoyable day. I wanted to take Jim and his wife out for dinner that night but one of their kids was sick, so his wife bowed out.
Jim and I had a great dinner. We talked about business, family, friends, corporate America, promotions, managing and a host of other things. A good dinner and some wine helped the mood, to be sure. Jim and I were already friends but that day created a whole new level of rapport that has lasted decades. So why did I schedule a round of golf when appointments were set? Simple. I wanted to make a point with Jim. A sales/sales management relationship went deeper than working in the field.
When you have a salesperson that is a true professional and does his or her job better than any other rep in your region then you need to fan and feed them. Every once in a while do something out of the ordinary for them. If possible do something for the rep and their wife or significant other. Make them feel special! Will your other reps notice? Yes they will. If the other reps ask why you did what you did for “Jim” then be honest and tell me that he or she deserved it because of his or her performance. That it’s your way of saying thanks for the extra effort.
Salespeople perform for many reasons-money, recognition, comfort, awards etc. They also like to have their manager recognize them in a private one-on-one way.