Rasmussen was a 44-year old entrepreneur who started his own digital marketing communications company in the Los Angeles area. His company was established in late 2002 when the Internet was just beginning to capture a lot of attention – a time when the last of the early adopters were shelling out top dollar to get their own websites.
Fast forward to 2011, and Rasmussen finds that he is losing business to many other digital marketing companies offering identical services. And even worse, he is also losing to independent contractors who charge a fraction of his prices, claiming the ability to create and deliver digital marketing tools that are just as good as what the larger companies (like Rasmussen’s) are charging. For many customers, this seemed to be a more appealing economic option.
As time moves on and business continues to decline, Rasmussen is convinced that the answer to all his problems will be solved by hiring one of those “pit-bull” salespeople who never takes “No” for an answer, willing to work around the clock in exchange for the opportunity to make huge commission checks.
Two years and three months later Rasmussen’s company has grown by more than four hundred percent. And, everyone at the company knows that Dan, who now views himself as “the Savior,” is responsible for more than 80 percent of Rasmussen’s growth. But Rasmussen has a problem on his hands.
Dan knows he is the linchpin for Rasmussen’s company, and over time has evolved into an employee that others despise working with. To “close the sale,” Dan often knowingly overpromises his customers. Although Rasmussen has had several conversations with Dan about his staff’s inability to do four weeks of work in one, Dan exclaims that if Rasmussen wants to keep growing, he needs to get rid of the “idiots” and find people who are willing to do whatever it takes to deliver.
Can the relationship between Rasmussen, Dan and the staff be repaired? Can the situation be fixed? Or, should Rasmussen give in and press his staff harder with the risk of having them walk out?
This is a common problem many leaders face. While they fall in love with the salespeople who are adding very handsome numbers to the bottom line, they may also find themselves justifying their salesperson’s disrespectful and forceful behavior to employees. This is often done by explaining that the lifeblood of the business is sales and everyone needs to be grateful that sales are coming in the door. However, this is not a justification for such actions.
The good news is that the relationship can be repaired. And the answer lies in acquiring a unique set of communication and conflict resolution skills such as I-Messages, Active Listening and No-Lose Conflict Resolution that are taught in leadership training.
Without these skills, leaders will find themselves caught between an Option A or Option B decision, where someone will feel a winner, and the other a loser. It doesn’t need to be that way.