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Craig Huntington

Craig Huntington

Herding Cats

Posted by Craig Huntington
Craig Huntington
Craig Huntington received his Bachelor of Science degree in business from Oregon
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 06 January 2013 in Blog

For an optimist like me, I view the New Year as an opportunity for a fresh start – a chance to review the past year and implement strategies for improving my business. To me, it’s energizing. It’s also a great time to examine how well you’re doing with fundamentals like good employee communications. Let me explain.


For the first six months of my tenure with First National Bank of Nevada and Arizona, I was rarely in my office. I was a one-man wrecking crew. I was on the run 10 to 12 hours a day. I was visiting property management companies in two states. I was cultivating relationships with their employees, leaving overflowing candy jars at offices from Phoenix to Las Vegas, and spreading the word about my lockbox.


That’s how the art of sales works. One of my father’s favorite sayings was: “You don’t make any money sitting on your ass behind a desk.”


In the first few months of my employment with Ray Lamb’s First National Bank group, I reported to a gentleman named Dave Groshon. “Reported to” might be a slight misrepresentation, but Dave did sign my expense report. I always figured that the guy who signed my expense report was, in fact, the guy I reported to. Dave, in return, sent reviews of my progress to Ray Lamb, even though Ray and I met on a regular basis anyway.


One day, Dave inadvertently left a copy of his three-month review on my desk, and I couldn’t resist taking a look. It wasn’t a particularly flattering review, and one line stuck out from all the others.


“Keeping track of Craig is like herding cats,” was how Dave put it.


Herding cats? Was he kidding? This, obviously, was neither a good evaluation nor a complimentary one. The truth was, it stung. I could only imagine how Ray may have viewed such a comment, but I wasn’t exactly in a position to defend myself since I had gotten the information from a confidential memo.


Instead, I took some time to consider what Dave’s comment meant and realized, in the end, that he really had no clue what I was doing. He may have understood, to a degree, what I was trying to do in terms of bringing in more customers to the bank, but he certainly didn’t understand what was involved in getting the job done. Dave didn’t realize that I couldn’t do my job from behind a desk, the way many people do. I didn’t work that way.


Dave didn’t realize how much time went into cultivating relationships with the people in the property management companies I was targeting; these men and women operated on a face-to-face basis just like I did.


Dave didn’t realize how much time I needed to spend on the road or how many hours I needed to spend sitting down with prospective clients, talking with them, getting to know them, gaining their trust.


Sales at this level, is a face-to-face business. It’s a patient business. You can’t touch someone sitting behind your desk. And even with all the road time and all the face-to-face time, things didn’t happen overnight. People didn’t move five, or 10, or 20 million dollars in deposits from one bank to another on a whim. It took time building bridges and selling a concept like the lockbox. I was nine months into the job before I delivered $10 million in deposits to the bank.


I learned a lesson from that experience with Dave. If the people on your team (and particularly, your extended team) don’t understand each other’s roles and have reasonable expectations for their counterpart’s performance, you’re missing an opportunity to create better teamwork.


Spend a few minutes reconsidering the perspectives of those folks both inside and outside the departments that touch your business goals. Take advantage of opportunities to share information about what your team is doing, and you’ll enhance communication, understanding, appreciation, synergy and trust.


And that sure beats herding cats.

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