The Great Sales Rep Rebellion

Marvine talked a bit too much at work, but then, so did all the other SDRs. They were Sales Development Reps, after all. What would you expect? You have to cut them a bit of slack. Anyway, it seemed right for their industry. They were a sales team that provided outsourced services to big events like rock concerts and conventions. They were part of a state-wide firm but they acted independently.

It was a fun and interesting field to work in. There were plenty of deadlines but the SDRs got blasé after a while. Sometimes, deadlines would change. Sometimes, they didn’t really matter. There was always another event or another conference.

Sometimes, the team was ahead of their competitors. Sometimes, it missed big opportunities like when the Rolling Stones tour came through or when a political national convention landed in their plate … or at least in their city. That’s when they blamed someone else. They were sales … not marketing. They were definitely not management.

However, to be honest, the SDRs were … not the hardest workers. The Account Executives weren’t much better.

Things took a nasty turn.

If their Senior Sales Manager, Darryl had once been an SDR, he’d clearly forgotten his experience. He now had a temper. And, when he wanted something, he didn’t stop until he got it. His latest demand was that everyone follow the scripts he had written, whether they were on the phone or texting. For the staff, indifference turned into discomfort, which turned into irritation which became an unbudgeable grudge. When Darryl threatened dear old Grace with her job if she didn’t stick to the script, he had stepped over the mark. He probably knew it but would never admit it.

That was enough for Marvine. She decided Darryl had to go.

She hatched a plan. She would work against her Senior Sales Manager. She told everyone what she was doing and they gladly tagged along. Of course, no-one told Darryl. The SDRs and AEs spoke and wrote whatever they wanted to prospects and customers. The scripts were out. They wouldn’t use them. But, they didn’t do their work entirely alone. Marvine made sure they followed MercurySays. The program said: “Say This Your Way.”

So, now, the battlelines were drawn. Someone was going to win. Someone was going to lose.

Eventually, someone higher up must have seen him for what he was. He was there one day, gone the next. Marvine heard there was a farewell gathering for him but none of the staff attended. The quicker he was gone the better.

Then, something strange happened. Even though the current policy was “no salary increases and no promotions,” Marvine suddenly got promoted, right through Account Executive level to become Senior Sales Manager: Darryl’s job. And, of course, her salary took off like a rocket. The AEs were not pleased.

The SDRs (Marvine’s buddies) quickly returned to their old ways. Marvine started to get a bit frayed around the edges as she saw the sales results dropping off a cliff. She hit the sales floor and told everyone they had to fill their list of prospects to overflowing and make their list of customers break all records. First, she cajoled. Then, she asked. Then, she told. The AEs and SDRs could see she was furious. Her red face and loud voice gave it away. Marvine overheard someone say: “Didn’t take her long.”

That’s when they really turned against her.

Alexis was a clever young man doing SDR work. He took the lead. He gathered his colleagues and the AEs into a united front. He told them that they could be picked off individually but they were safer and stronger if they stayed together. Someone said: “How do we do that?” Alexis said that he had a plan.

Marvine tracked the numbers carefully. Occasionally, she’d talk to the staff (now her ex-buddies) constantly reminding them to get more prospects and customers each day. She was persistent but not unpleasant. Although, no-one else saw it that way.

Over the next couple of weeks, there was a good rise in sales results but little change in the number of prospects and customers. At the monthly meeting, Marvine told them yet again that the rise in sales may be a one-off but their pipelines had to be filled.

By now, Marvine only talked business. She knew she should be more personal with the staff but she didn’t like their cool responses. She also changed the way she dressed, buying some nice modern clothes that were comfortable, professional, stylish. It separated her even more from the SDRs and the AEs.

At the end of the second month, there was a good rise in sales but no increase in pipeline numbers. Marvine now knew she was winning. But, she didn’t let on.

By the third monthly meeting, it was clear that her strategy had worked. Sales had risen almost 30% but the size of the pipelines had barely changed.

After Marvine’s general remarks about the sales increase and her usual admonishment to fill their pipelines, the meeting broke up. Alexis, the young man who had led the “rebellion,” passed close by.

Under her breath, Marvine said: “Well done.” And, she smiled.

Alexis returned the smile but a moment later, it slipped from his face like a mask. At this moment of vulnerability, Marvine pushed the point home. “What’s your favorite technology here?”

The question clearly caught him off guard. “Um … er … MercurySays.”

Marvine raised an eyebrow. “Mine, too.”

A week later, Marvine was asked to attend the board meeting on the 32nd floor of a tower downtown. She dressed herself to perfection, walked into the boardroom, and there, sitting beside the chairman, was her old boss, Darryl.

He welcomed her. Asked her to take a seat.

After a few introductions, Darryl asked the first question. He smiled a little quizzically. “We see your results over the last three months are commendable … outstanding. Please tell us what you have learned since you started as Senior Sales Manager.”

Marvine felt her mask slip.

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