The Role of The Senior Rep
In every martial arts dojo exists the concept of the “uke” (ooo-kay). The uke is a senior student both in skill & tenure but serves a purpose beyond being the fastest or strongest member. Specifically, their job is to bridge the gap between beginner students & dojo leadership. They do this by spending time with new students, sparring with them, and precisely dialing down their own skillset to a point that is just slightly better than the novice. They don’t overwork the person, they don’t beat them up, & they don’t embarrass them. They create a space in which the person can learn comfortably, while still being challenged.
Every sales floor has its own uke’s. The people who go out of their way to bring forward the next generation of great sellers. It’s easy to spot who these people are on your team, and it has little to do with the leaderboard. They are at reps’ desks with double wired-in headsets acting as the watchful guardian in case the call goes south. They are sending emails on behalf of new hires whose equipment isn’t working. They go on the walks after a new rep experiences their first hang-up, their first curse-out, or their first lost deal. They bridge the gap.
Unfortunately, most sales floors also have the anti-uke. The senior seller who sees to making new hires feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or just plain silly. They exert their bravado in a way that causes the new seller to feel excluded, and are generally brash & harsh in their feedback.
If you are a tenured rep at your company, recognize which side of the fence you’re on. You’re VP of Sales already does and is weighing the behavior in who gets the next promotion. Creating more successful reps is not a zero-sum game. Be the uke, and help facilitate the environment that begets more success for all.