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Letters to a Young Manager

The Bell Ringer, #460
LTYM > Managing People -- How to Begin

Dear Sophie,
I agree, choosing a member of your team is one of the most important things you do as a manager. Jack Welch said that for a leader, "nothing matters more than getting the right people on the field."[1] How do you do that?

I once worked with a sales rep who was new to her position in the consulting company that served Wall Street clients. The branch manager gave her a long list of leads and asked her to "work it." She cold-called every name on the list. Out of 50 or so names, she got a few appointments, and closed fewer sales. That's a lot of "no's" to work through. But she kept at it. It paid off. Within a few years, she was the top sales person in the branch and won an award for her performance.

Surprisingly, she was not a sales rep before. She kept after the branch manager until he gave her a chance. What was different about her? One quality that stood out was that she had what I call the Avon bell-ringer personality. What was that? Avon sales reps sold door to door for many years, ringing one bell after another, introducing themselves and their products. They faced a lot of slammed doors and "no thank you's", but to be successful, they had to keep at it while maintaining a positive, enthusiastic attitude. If you want someone who can help you sell your products (and ideas), hire a bell-ringer. And if you want the right person for your team, pay attention to the personal qualities as much as the job experience.
Sincerely yours,

[1] Jack Welch, Winning, Harper-Collins, ePub edition, 2005, p. 81


Sometimes a personal quality is a better indicator than experience

Discussion Questions:

1. Who in your organization (past or present) has a bell-ringer personality?
2. Why is persistence so important to sales?
3. What other positions in your organization could benefit from a bell-ringer trait?

For Further Reading:

Kaihan Krippendorff, "The Jack Welch Leadership Crash Course," Fast Company, Oct. 25, 2012, here:

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