Steak and beans: What was the best question to ask the sales manager?

Today we’ll follow up on the steak and beans dinner question.  On Friday I had told you how the sales manager was boasting to me about this dinner, which rewarded his top performers with steak, and “punished” those who didn’t make their sales goals with a plate of beans.  He asked me what I thought of his idea and I asked him one question, letting you guess what it was.

Drum roll please?  Sam Giroux, a pretty sharp guy from Boone Bank in Missouri was not only the first to reply but also nailed the answer.  The question you should have asked the sales manager, which I did ask, was, “And what did you have for dinner, steak or beans?”

He told me he had the steak dinner, because the successful sales managers had enough volume to offset the 4 who didn’t make goal, so the whole state exceeded the overall goal.

I had a problem with that.

You have 4 team members who didn’t make goal and they get “punished” with beans while you eat steak? That doesn’t strike me as great sales management.  As Sam pointed out, as long as one person didn’t make goal, the sales manager should eat beans along with him.

Let’s just review a fundamental sales management practice, using the acronym SCAR, which I use in my workshops. SCAR stands for:

  • Skills
  • Commitment
  • Activities
  • Results

Most sales managers pay attention primarily to Results, as ours did.  But great sales managers assess the Skills of their people and help them improve, through modeling, joint calls, coaching, training and practice in sales meetings.  They also seek to bolster Commitment, or learn if commitment is not there.  And finally, they look at the Activities their salespeople engage in.  Are they the right ones and do they do them enough times?

If you’re a sales manager, and you have 4 team members who are struggling, it’s your job to get them to the steak dinner by focusing on these three critical areas, not just reading the final score.  If you aren’t doing the things that earn them a steak, then you shouldn’t eat steak either.

Many thanks Sam Giroux.

Think Like Your Customer

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at

4 Responses to Steak and beans: What was the best question to ask the sales manager?

  1. kara says:

    always be in the barrel with your folks…always. i would almost argue that no one should get steak until the team earns it.

  2. Sam Giroux says:

    Thank you very much for the kind words. I really enjoy your blog updates and find them integral to not only the success of my sales team, but for me personally as well. Keep up the great work.

  3. Sam Giroux says:

    Kara – Like had mentioned before, the biggest flaw ws the contest to begin with. If the team saw success as a whole, then the whole team should celebrate. The time to coach for improvement on the 4 that were laging would be in private coaching sessions.

  4. Thank you Kara and Sam. Well thought out, sensitive responses. Great sales managers put their people first.

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