That is, if you want to succeed…
(One of the 83 quick and practical life & work lessons from Sh*t Sandwich: Quick & Practical Success Lessons for Practically Anyone.)
Remember a few lessons back when I said you should be selfish? Well, this is sometimes the best advice I can give someone to help them succeed in their work life. I understand this advice may seem counterintuitive, but if you’ll be selfish when good rules are in place, then great things will happen for you and those around you. Let me give you just one example where being selfish benefited everyone.
I was training a call center at a great, family-owned car dealership. The call center’s job was to phone the sales leads that came into the dealership and set appointments for prospective buyers. This call center employed five agents, including an incredibly nice woman we’ll call Jane. Everyone loved Jane – especially the prospects she called.
Unfortunately, Jane was so nice, that she didn’t like to, in her words, “pressure people” into making a firm appointment. At this dealership, a call center agent could make a great living if they could set 60 or more appointments each month that would show up on time. However, after three months on the job, Jane was getting no more than a couple dozen to show – despite speaking with over 150 prospective buyers each month. Jane was too nice.
My advice to Jane? Be selfish. Be very selfish. Don’t think of the prospect or the company; only yourself. I explained to her that she made nothing until someone showed up on-time for an appointment. So, be selfish: make money for Jane.
She was aghast at the thought!
I then laid out the reason that this was the best overall strategy with a series of questions:
- Is this a good place to work? Are the owners good people?
- Is this a good place to buy a car? Do you sell a trusted brand?
- Are you a nice person? Do you always care about the customer?
When she answered “Yes” to every question, I followed up with one more:
- Then why would you want your prospects buying from the competition, where they will be treated poorly, get a raw deal, and drive away in an inferior vehicle?
To Jane’s credit, she understood immediately; and from that day forward she became one of the most selfish people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. So selfish, in fact, that she enjoyed high praise from nearly every appointment that showed (of which, there were nearly 100 each month) and a mountain of referrals. (Oh, and a nice fat paycheck, to boot.)