Get it right and sellers are an amazingly flexible resource. In my day at Rank Xerox UK, they kept employed someone who sold at least 40 machines net pa, that is, what goes in less what comes out. Most sellers sold between 40 & 80 machines. 8o is twice 40. The top sellers sold 120 machines. That’s 3 times 40. Same training, same base cost.
The pressure was always there. The top seller grew on the sales board in the office during the month. At the end of each month, the District Manasger and the Branch Manager would take the top seller to lunch at a good restaurant. They got sick of taking me to lunch. Ran out of conversation. But who could put up with this pressure? For how long? A year? How could a professional seller adapt to the pressure year after year? It needed thinking about.
Rank Xerox moved into duplicators while I was there. What did they do? They took the desktop 813 and changed the meter. They called it the 330 or so I think. Now, instead of a flat rate per copy, the first copies in any run were more expensive but the later copies cheaper. Clever stuff and a lesson in selling. The seller had to get his head around a difference in argument with the duplicators. It wasn’t cost per copy. It was the freedom to let people make what copies they needed without cost getting out of hand. It took time. Customers were locked into cost per copy. To reinforce the change, Rank Xerox set up a competition running over 2 or 3 months. Each group of 2 x 813 plus 1 x 330 installed bought you so many miles on your journey to Bermuda. Once you got there, you were working to take your wife or girl friend. Vans were running around to deliver to meet the deadline, engineers to install. That’s sales support for you. Would you believe it, when I got there with the girl friend, they said they had never had hail before in the history of the island.
The battle was now on to become top Rank Xerox seller for 1966/67. Between me and my friend & rival Ian. He worked a City territory very effectively. Ian had invested heavily in the gogo Poseidon Oil shares. He came second and shortly after left for Australia to spend it. I had become top man. An MGB GT was in the garage.
Now it was time for the annual review. Management by Objectives they called it then. The Branch & District Managers congratulated me for my success, thanked me profusely for taking them both to Bermuda too. They had looked through the numbers. I had sold 120 machines net plus. I had made X calls on average each week and sold a machine for roughly every Y calls. Yes. I had run between calls. Yes. The conversion rate was amazing. But did I realise that if, next year, I made X+5 calls on average each week and converted one order for every Y-0.2 calls, I would earn £xxxxxxx. I looked at them. What in the f**k were they talking about? It was a nail through the heart.
The following month Rank Xerox ran an ad in the jobs section of the Telegraph. “Be like Philip Lund. Get a degree from University and come and be our top salesman.” On the day the ad appeared, I was walking out the door.