Changing An Office From Activity to Accomplishment
Hey everyone, this is Ken Courtright with the today’s growth, growing business today podcast. I am throwing this at you from beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and mentioned last time coming to visit my dad, he’s down here for a couple months. Got my 8 year old, Kenneth Dean Courtright the fourth, sitting to my left playing Minecraft on his Ipad, as usual. He’s a Minecraft junkie to say the least. He’s a future YouTuber, and he’s a stud. I remember coming home from a meeting one time, and he was only 6 years old, and he was propped up on my bed. He had his Ipad to his left, he had a notepad on his lap, and he had either his little Mac, or his sisters little laptop, and he was on a YouTube video in the Ukraine getting passcodes so that he could plug them into a Minecraft server in the Ukraine so he could play a different level of Minecraft, and he was 6.
Just crazy, so real sharp kid as all my kids are, they’re absolutely amazing. This is going to be an interesting one, as I hope they all are. The last episode was called lightning fast growth, and we talked about kind of the concept or the psychology when you’re networking. To not go for the one on one contact, or try to get a business card when you’re in a group setting, at a conference, or an event, any kind of setting with multiple people. I kind of threw out the psychology of how networking happens, and a better way to do it to where instead of getting one contact, you can leave there with hundreds. I think that podcast is quite awesome from a standpoint. That technique, that podcast can grow any business in any industry at any time. This podcast, we’re going to call this one guaranteed growth.
This technique we’re going to cover can be used in pretty much any company, any industry, and time. There’s no question if it’s applied, it can physically guarantee the growth of a company. It could stabilize a company. The best way to explain this, again as I do most of the time, is strictly through a case study. This happened to us in, I think 1999, matter of fact, it happened November, ’99, and it finished at the end of January, 2000. I remember that because MCI world com gave me a two or three foot crystal goblet type of thing, but before I get to that, and it has 2000 on it, so before I get to that, let’s back up. My phone rings one time in October, 1999, a gentleman named Steve is on the phone. He says, “Is this Ken Courtright?” I said, “Yes it is,” he says, “I have heard that you, or your company, has a unique ability to turn around a sales organization.”
We chit chatted a little, how’d you hear about me, this and that, and I said, “Well, let’s do this, give me some numbers. What place, or what position is the Chicago office,” which he ran, of MCI world com. He says, “Oh, we’re in 33rd place.” I’m like, “That’s not… That can’t be terrible, you’re a NASDAQ publicly traded company. You’ve got tens of thousands of employees.” I’m assuming they’ve got a couple hundred offices nationwide, and he goes, “Oh, no, no, no. We have 33 sales offices,” I said, “Oh, so you’re in last place?” He goes, “Yeah, glad it’s funny for you. I’m the regional manager, and I’m responsible for fixing this.” This was like a Thursday, I said, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll come down tomorrow, and let’s see what we can do.”
I drove down there, I remember meeting him. That branch was in a suburb of Chicago, beautiful building, blue building. Met him, and we started talking, and I knew instantly what the problem was. I mean, we just went back and fourth a couple questions and I said, “Well, I can do this. I’m only going to need 90 days,” and he goes, “What, 90 days, what?” I said, “No, no, I can either fix this immediately, or it’s unfixable.” He was a little shocked, so we did a 91 day deal, and here’s how it went. I showed up on Monday, and there was 8 salespeople. I think it was 4 men, 4 women. I played off that I was the newest sales rep, and Steve introduced me, “Hey, here’s a new sales rep.” I don’t remember what the reason is, but everybody was like, “Yeah, cool.”
My goal was to just ride along with one person in the morning, one person in the afternoon Monday. One person in the morning, one person in the afternoon Tuesday. At least I’d get the flavor of 4 people, and then I was to report back to Steve on Wednesday for what I wanted to do next. I did my ride alongs with half the sales team, met with Steve, I said, “My conclusion is the same, I know exactly what I have to do,” so on Wednesday, I was then introduced as the branch manager to the white faced shock of everybody else there, and they pretty much knew what was going to come next because you see, this office had cancer. Everybody to the person, everybody to some degree was bad mouthing the products, management, the company, it was just a completely disdain for where they were working.
I couldn’t believe it, why didn’t they just quit? They were there for the paycheck. The long and short of it is as Steve already knew, I let 6 of those people go, and by the end of that week, which was only 2 days, we hired… I let 6 go, we hired 6 people that had no telecom experience. I kept the 2 newest people because I had no ride alongs with them, I just sensed that they were at least neutral. I wanted to keep somebody that knew a little bit something about the products because I knew nothing. Long and short of it is 91 days after I began, that office was in 1st place, and I would like to explain the tactic, or the technique, the physical change I made of the weekly structure of that office.
I have a very large crystal goblet that says January 2000, number one sales office, MCI world com that normally goes to the branch manager, I was the acting branch manager, so they gave it to me anyway. I wish there was a larger check attached to the consulting check, but that didn’t happen. Anyway, so here’s what’s pretty cool. This is what we did, and this is what anybody can do in any company that has a product or a service that is sold. I want everybody to imagine, if you’re driving in the car, just imagine, this one’s an easy one, that you’re staring at the calendar of this week. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, the top left is Monday 9am, it doesn’t start at midnight, it starts at 9am on this particular document. It ends Monday at 5pm on the left, on the bottom left, so it’s 9 to 5 going down, Monday. Then on the right side after it says Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, it says Friday 9am to 5pm. There’s a different little section for each hour.
What we’re all looking at now is a square box, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday across the top. 9, 10, 11, 12, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, going down each column. Well, what we said to everybody is… We hired all the new people Friday. We started immediately, even with the newest people that didn’t know anything on Monday. No, you know what, excuse me, I had two days of training, so we started this on Wednesday. Yes, now that I remember. We got off and running, so I’m going to pick this up the following Monday for simplicity. Let’s pretend we’re actually technically Monday of week 3 that I was there, so it’s the 15th day that I was there, technically. The first day of the third week, I think everybody understands what I’m saying. It’s Monday morning. I dropped 8 brand new thick yellow pages on everybody’s desk.
I said, “Guys,” almost kind of making fun of the Glen Gary, Glen Ross movie. I said, “Here’s our leads. I want everybody to open this to whatever you want. If you want to do schools, if you want to go after hospitals, if you want to go after industrial complex, I don’t care. We sell phone service, we can lower everybody’s rate. We sell t1 lines, pr lines, pri lines, internet pipes. I don’t care what products that you want to sell, I promise you this though guys, if you do exactly what I tell you, this will be the number 1 branch very soon.” Everybody was like, “Yeah, whatever,” so they did not want to cold call out of a phone book. They wanted to get in the car and knock on doors, as they thought that was the best way to do it, but as we find out, my way is the best way to do it.
What we did is I said, “Okay everybody has their little printed calendar in front of them,” and on the calendar, the time slots of 11am and 3pm were in bold. I said, “Guys, here’s the deal. Gals, here’s the deal. Pick up the phone, start dialing, and I want everybody to set an appointment for this Friday at 3pm. There is no other time slot that anybody in this room is available to set a time for, you are blocked. You are physically blocked, it’s like a blackout date in an airline, it’s unschedulable, it’s blacked out. Okay, it’s blocked out.” I was getting so many who farted looks, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that before, they’re like, “Huh? What if we get on the phone and it’s a decision maker, and they’re taking bids right now making a decision this coming Wednesday? Are we going to throw that away?”
I said, “Yes. We are now in control. The only time we can book an appointment is 3pm Friday. Now, once you’ve scheduled that appointment for 3pm Friday, the only time you can book an appointment for is 11am Friday.” Again, I got the who farted looks like what, whatever. I said, “We can go around and around, and I can give you the psychological reasons why this is going to work, or you can take a tiny leap of faith and at least give me one day and do things my way.” To say it was confrontational would be an understatement. Away we went, and I think half the people set an appointment for Friday at 3. If I remember correctly, one of them even set a second appointment for Friday at 11. I would like everybody on this podcast to answer this question to themselves. With this method, what do you think we did the next Tuesday morning? Yes, the same thing.
Now, because we’re doing this my way, not the star method, which we’ll book an appointment at anytime, anywhere for anybody that’ll take us, we’re in control here. This gave the whole staff the whole day of Tuesday to book another appointment. Here’s what’s interesting, because the staff realized, these 8 reps realized that Ken is not going to change, this is what it is, their body and their mind accepted this, and they got to work on Tuesday. Every person in the room set at least one appointment on Tuesday for either 3pm Friday, or they filled the 11am slot Friday, and then the only time slot available to book an appointment was 3pm Thursday. What we’re doing here, what this is actually called in my office is working the week backwards.
This puts the sales rep, or the business owner in complete control. When you work the week backwards, and you book Friday at 3, then Friday at 11, then Thursday at 3, and Thursday at 11, and Wednesday at 3, and Wednesday at 11, it does not allow for the most destructive thing in a sales office which is what is called the star method. The star method is this, you take out your piece of paper, your Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 calendar and you’re at the whim of whoever says yes. If it’s Monday morning and you book an appointment, and somebody goes, “Oh yeah, I can see you. Matter of fact, I can see you this afternoon at 2.” The sales rep goes, “Woo hoo! I got an appointment, yay for me.” Then, they don’t do anything the rest of the day, they take a long lunch, “What’s the point, I’ve already got an appointment.”
Psychologically they shut down, and they’re just jacked. Well, the whole day is ruined. Yeah, you’ve got an appointment, but the whole day is ruined now. Here’s the bottom line, let’s cut to the chase. Prior to me walking into that office, the Chicago sales office was averaging 1.25 appointments a week. When I left them 91 days later, they were averaging 4.25 appointments a week. What do you think happens to a sales office when you take them from 1 appointment a week to 4? Exactly, 4 times more volume, but no, no, no, no, it’s not 4 times more volume. It was actually 6 times more volume, and the reason is this. When you’re selling something, the definition of sales, as I mentioned on a prior podcast, is a transference of feelings. Even though in the previous regime they were at 1.25 appointments a week, there was no transference of feelings, nothing positive, nobody wanted to be there.
Very few people actually bought anything because the sales reps were always in a ho hum blase attitude. When these sales reps, by the third week under my management, were at 4.25 appointments a week which is almost an appointment every day, holy cow, the attitude was amazing. Everybody all of a sudden loved me, and I had nothing to do with it. All I did was switch that office from an activity model, meaning they get paid for activity whether they produce or not. I switched it from activity to accomplishment. They still got their base pay, but now guess what? Everybody was finally getting bonuses, and man oh man, oh my gosh. Everybody on this podcast listen close, the greatest incentive, the greatest way to keep a sales rep excited is with a larger paycheck. If you want to keep a sales person excited, keep the spouse at home excited, keep their dog excited because there’s still food in the dog bowl. As long as sales people are making more than they expected to make, their attitude is unbelievable, and it transfers to the next ten deals.
Here’s how this goes, when you switch a sales organization from activity to accomplishment, it is literally electrifying. The community that builds, everybody’s pulling for everybody else, and the success is so contagious, it’s unstoppable. I’ll give you another quick example on this. I was asked in 2004ish if I would come into a company and help the sales organization. They had 8 sales reps. I remember having to buy the company for a dollar because I really had to make some major changes, and I ended up selling it back to the gentleman, but we went from losing about $1,500 a week to at one point we were making $20,000 a week. I took it from 8 sales reps in cubicles to 20 sales reps in cubicles, and 207 reps working from home. Here’s how I did it.
I was there 2 weeks, and I noticed there was an 18 year old man named RD, Robert David, and he looked young. Turns out he was the youngest owner of a Dodge Viper in North America. His mom and dad didn’t buy it for him, he was raising white boa snakes, and he had a really big hatching, I guess it’s called, and sold a lot of snakes, and put half down on a Dodge Viper. The point is this, I noticed he was rather persistently aggressive, but nice, really nice. Man, he would hang up the phone, dial another, hang up the phone, dial another. He was kind of frustrated, it’s because he had a real young voice. I pulled him into my office, I said, “RD, I have a question for you, you have a really nice car,” he’s like, “Yeah, you want to go for a ride?” I’m like, “Yeah, sure.” I said, “You have a girlfriend?” He goes, “Yes I do,” and I said, “I’d like to try something with you. If I made you a deal that you could leave after you set your 5th appointment that day, you could leave at any time, what would you say?”
He’s like, “Well, I don’t know if that’s that exciting, I’ve never set 5 appointments in a day.” This business, we were setting appointments for Wyndham, Disney, Hyatt, it was kind of a version of time share, and he goes, “I’ve never set 5 appointments,” I said, “I know that, but my point is this, if you did set 5 and you could go home early, would that excite you?” He goes, “Yeah, you have no idea. I’d love to go home and work on my car, or work on my snakes and stuff like that,” so I said, “Let’s just try something.” I don’t remember what day of the week, but the very next day he comes in and I noticed he actually got to work early, and I thought that was interesting. He got to work early, he was dialing the phone before 9 in the morning, and even though he didn’t set his 5th appointment until about a quarter after 5pm, he wanted to set 5 just to say he did it, and he did. Everybody was excited for him. Well, what’s interesting is because he did it, he knew he could do it again, right?
This is called the roger banister technique, so I’ll explain that in a second, but the point is RD came back the next day. Of course he came back early, right? This time, he skipped lunch, I thought that was interesting. RD set 5 appointments by 2 o’clock. He pushed his chair back so hard it hit the next person behind him, and he stood up, he’s like, “Okay, I’m out of here,” and he left. Everybody was like, “Wait, what’s going on, what’s going on?” I said, “Oh, I don’t know if you guys caught the memo, but I made a new deal with everyone. Once you set your 5th appointment, you can go home at any time,” and everybody was like, “Wait, so we get the same deal he gets?” Of course, everybody on this podcast, what do you think happened? Half of that room began setting 5 appointments before 2 or 3 o’clock, and leaving early.
You see, when I took over that company, I wasn’t looking for activity. Most people confuse activity with accomplishment. I’m looking for accomplishment. I’m looking for something measurable that I can predict and forecast. What I want everybody on this podcast to understand is what the mind can conceive and believe, it can actually achieve. Here’s what I mean, it’s called the roger banister. Back in the days, I don’t know if this was the 40’s or 50’s, but Roger Banister told his doctors that he was going to attempt to break the 4 minute mile. Every doctor said, “Impossible, your heart is going to explode.” He was doing the mile in 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
Well, Roger Banister knew for the last 3 years, every 6 months he was shaving 2 seconds off of it. It was 4:40, 4:38, 4:36, 4:34, he’s like, “If I can just stay alive long enough, I’m going to break this thing.” He started thinking and he goes, “You know what, this is just in my head.” He got Olympic athletes that were sprinters in the quarter mile to start pacing him, and slowly he started cutting 4 seconds every month off his time, about a second a week. Then low and behold, Roger Banister ran the mile in 3 minutes and 59 seconds. Here’s what’s amazing, you guys ready for this? Look this one up. In the next 30 days after nobody had done 4 minutes and 30 seconds, in the next 30 days, without any training specific like Roger did it, 30 people worldwide broke the 4 minute mile. 90 days after that over 100 people had broke the 4 minute mile. Today, if you don’t do the mile in 3:45, ehh, you’re a hack.
Here, what’s the point of this? It’s called the roger banister. We put our own ceiling on ourself and we have to understand humans don’t have ceilings. We can do and accomplish anything we want. There was a very famous book written in 1926, one of the chapters starts out and it says, “Isn’t it amazing that a man with definiteness of purpose goes through life and watches how the world steps aside, and then even comes beside and helps him with his aims?” I’m going to say this one more time and wrap up. Isn’t it amazing that a man with definiteness of purpose, a goal, goes through life and watches how the world steps aside, and then even comes beside and helps him with his aims?
When it comes to selling, when it comes to guaranteed growth, I can assure everybody listening to this podcast, if you set a goal that we are going to not confuse activity with accomplishment, we’re going to work our sales reps weeks backwards, we’re going to stay strong, we’re in control, we’re going to book Friday at 3, then Friday at 11, Thursday at 3, then Thursday at 1, or excuse me, at 11am. I can assure you that the lid will come off your sales floors. You will not be able to hire sales people fast enough because they will walk into a sales office of success, they will feel it, and they’ll just jump right into the same plan and work the week backwards. They’ll now nothing else, and they will dominate. It’s absolutely awesome. It does guarantee growth. This is Ken Courtright signing off from Fort Lauderdale, take care.