Over the last several years, I’ve had plenty of time to think of ways to keep this little company growing while wondering how big it might grow. It’s hard to say how far we’ll go, as it’s taken an immense amount of time, effort, and restless nights to see things get this far.
I do imagine days when Kim & Jason is a household name – which would cut the amount of time I spend explaining exactly what I do WAY down. I dream of a line of collectible Kim & Jason figurines that will fill a curio case in my Mom’s living room. (Step aside, Precious Moments.) I envision a collaboration with Pixar (you know those guys who did a little movie about a fish named Nemo?) to develop a Kim & Jason Christmas special. I get giddy thinking of possibly opening a Kim & Jason retail store, chock full of all the cool things you remember from childhood.
Now, I imagine growth of this sort will require quite a good number of people. I actually have a few unsolicited resumes on hand. We’re not looking to hire anybody new at this point, but it’s cool to know that we’re building something here that other people might want to be a part of.
I’ve often thought about the hiring process, and what types of folks would fit in here. I’ve already hired a few friends, which is something the pointy heads say you should never do, so you can see I’m not too big on following standards. (For the record, dealing with friends CAN be troublesome at times, but not impossible without effort on both sides.) They also say that A people hire A people, and B people hire C people. I’m not so sure what letter I am, but I definitely think it’s always a good idea to get people on board who are smarter than you. At the very least, I’d rather have them working for me than the competition.
One thing I can say for sure is that if I have to choose between someone with passion and someone with knowledge and experience, I’ll take passion every day of the week. No question.
Perhaps that’s an unusual way to look at things, but I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to test my theory already. Over a year ago, I brought on my friend Jenna (uh-oh, warns the pointy-headed intellectuals) to be a full-time sales rep, or Sales Servant, as we like to call it. I would count Jenna as one of the most passionate Kim & Jason fans out there; she believes in what we’re trying to accomplish and cares about seeing it succeed.
The only problem was that Jenna had exactly no experience as a salesperson whatsoever. But I noted that she had a variety of people jobs, most notably a stint as a staff member at a church. I’d seen Jenna in action with the parishioners and students who attended the church. She was a natural people person, able to connect with all ages. She’d be perfect, I thought. After all, isn’t sales really about people and relationships?
Of course that didn’t change the fact that she had no outright sales experience. And I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not too wise to expect someone to be great at something they’ve never done before. Just because an intern really really wants to help people, doesn’t mean I want him doing open heart surgery on me.
But I’ll stand by the notion that passion is more important than experience or knowledge. Knowledge can be taught, and experience is earned in time, but it’s very hard to make someone passionate about something. And if someone is passionate about something, they’re more willing to take the extra steps and make the sacrifices to gain the necessary knowledge and collect valuable experience.
So last year we hired Jacqui, a sales consultant with over 25 years of experience directing the sales of huge companies like Black & Decker. She met with the team, and worked with Jenna specifically, coaching her through calls and giving her some invaluable golden nuggets. And to her credit, Jenna spent a lot of time educating herself by reading various books and subscribing to newsletters. Again, a commitment that speaks a great deal about her passion.
I can’t believe the difference that has occurred in her over the year. I thought she handled herself pretty well on the phones before, but she’s certainly taken things to a whole new level. She is smooth, polished, and knowledgeable, and of course, still a very good people person. The experience she’s gained in hearing a million (probably not that many) rejections is immeasurable.
One of the greatest compliments to date came from a retail store owner a few weeks ago, who commended Jenna for her persistence and follow-through, and although Kim & Jason wasn’t a particularly good fit for her store, sincerely regretted not being able to do business with Jenna because she was so conscientious and good to work with (a stark contrast to the other reps she deals with.)
Jenna continues to improve and impress me every day, opening new doors for Kim & Jason. I see her someday leading a team of new Sales Servants. Sales Servants who, although filled with a passion to make a difference, are a bit wet behind the ears.
But that won’t matter, because they’ll be fortunate to have Jenna to teach them all the helpful hints and tricks of the trade.