The Toughest Moms Raise the Toughest Kids

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Posted: March 12, 2014
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The 2014 Winter Olympics featured some great moments. There was the ‘thrill of victory and the pain of defeat.’  In Colorado, we were cheering about the gold medal earned by 18-year old Mikaela Shiffrin.    

There were additional great moments in surprising places – the television ads. Yes, I am talking about the commercials. 

One particular ad produced by Proctor and Gamble grabbed my attention and emotions. It illustrated an endearing theme: “The toughest Moms raise the toughest kids.”  (See video above.) The ad shows how tough Moms pushed their kids to achieve their best, often under the most difficult and challenging situations. 

While watching the ad, I thought of how easily this theme could be transferred to the profession of sales. The title of the ad might read: The toughest bosses raise the toughest AND best salespeople. 

My first tough boss appeared when I worked in the retail industry. It was one of my first jobs out of college. I was a merchandiser, which is a glorified title for “professional merchandise tracker.” (It’s like being a bounty hunter for garments.) This position was the first rung on the career ladder to becoming an assistant buyer. I had my eye on the prize, wanting to achieve that title. 

My tracking skills were tested when the company opened a new store in Kansas City. One of our top denim vendors was running late with a key shipment. I called the vendor every day, several times a day. When the merchandise finally made it to the warehouse, I walked the merchandise through the warehouse. Then, I worked with the freight carrier to ensure on time delivery. Despite herculean efforts, the jeans just didn’t make it to the grand opening of the store. Ug..g..h..h…

I walked into my boss’s office and shared in great detail everything I did to get the merchandise in the store for opening day. My tough boss, Stan listened intently and said a few words. “It sounds like you didn’t get the job done.” He lowered his head, went back to work and I was dismissed.  

Ouch! While I may not agree with Stan’s style or lack of empathy, the tough boss lesson stuck. People don’t care about your intent, they only care about results.  

As I moved into sales Stan’s lesson of ‘getting it done’ followed me. (Maybe “haunted” is a better word…) 

When I didn’t want to make any more prospecting calls, I made the calls. When I was tired and didn’t feel like attending an early morning networking event, I set the alarm. When I was busy and didn’t want to take the time to meet with one more potential referral partner, I placed the coffee meeting on the calendar.  

Tough sales managers are like tough Moms and Dads. They produce tough, resilient and successful salespeople. They are:

  • Willing to hold their teams accountable. They understand that discipline is something everyone admires…and few enjoy. 

  • Focused on mastery. Tough managers help you practice selling skills until your tongue is tied. 

  • Encouraging you to get in the ‘deep end’ of the pool and go after business that you believe you can’t win. 

  • Holding up the truth telling mirror to show that you are giving 90%, not 100%. They teach you how to ‘leave it on the floor.’  

Thanks Proctor and Gamble for a making a great commercial. Tough Moms raise tough kids. Tough sales managers develop tough salespeople. And both help individuals achieve more than they ever thought imaginable.