Figuring It Out
Bob: Welcome, Jane and John. You’re the latest recruits to our sales team and I just need to say a few words to you before you start, which you’ll do in about ten minutes. You’ll spend your first four days out in the country. Your two areas are near enough identical in size and numbers of potential customers. Friday is your day for operating in town, where you’re likely to make more calls than on any other day, but your success rate will probably be relatively low because the townies are fairly resistant to salespeople. As you know, we have only one product, the Goodypak, and owing to production problems, we must for the time being limit sales to one per customer.
Each week we give a prize to our most successful newcomer, so on this occasion that will obviously go to one of you. You need to know that the main criterion is not the number of calls you make, but the rate of conversion to sales. The reason is that you get generous travel expenses, so as far as we’re concerned, the less motoring you do, the better. For example, four weeks ago we had two fellows in contention. One made only fifty calls in the week, but he got thirty sales. His rival made ninety calls and thirty-four sales. The first chap got the prize because he’d clocked up barely half the mileage that the second one did. That’s all I have to say. Now, off you go. We’ll meet here again after you finish work on Thursday.
Bob. Hello, Jane and John. Nice to see you. Now, we have a most interesting situation here. You’ve each recorded sixty calls and twenty-eight sales. Good work. As you’re running neck and neck I’m really looking forward to what you achieve tomorrow. We’ll get together when you’ve finished your day’s work. Good luck.
Bob: Here we are again, Jane and John. You’ve got through your first week and both of you have performed well. You’ll remember that you were level-pegging when we met yesterday and I now have to deal with your figures for today. John, you made thirty-six calls and got four sales. Jane, you made twenty-seven calls and got only one sale. So, the prize must go to you, John. Step forward and –
Jane: Hang on a minute, Bob. You said on Monday that the main criterion was the conversion rate from calls to sales. Now, I admit that John and I were level yesterday evening and that he did better than me today. But that’s not the point. If you add his thirty-six calls and four sales today to his earlier score, you get ninety-six calls and thirty-two sales, which amounts to exactly one sale per three calls. If you add my twenty-seven calls and one sale today to my previous score, you get eighty-seven calls and twenty-nine sales, which also works out at precisely one sale per three calls, so there’s nothing in it.
Bob: That can’t be right. Wait a moment . . . Oh, it is right. Well, that’s baffling. Seems ridiculous but there we are. Funny things, statistics. Well, we don’t have anything in the rules about overall sales, so although John’s were slightly higher, I’ll divide the prize equally between you.
Jane: I still think it should go to me.
Jane: Well, you said on Monday that you liked us to keep travel to a minimum, on account of the expenses. You also pointed out that John and I had areas of the same size, with the same customer potentials. We compared notes just before this meeting. If you look at our two itineraries, you’ll see that I planned mine quite carefully, whereas John criss-crossed his tracks a number of times, so I drove three hundred and fifteen miles and he did four hundred and eighty-seven. I’ve cost you far less for my travel, made nearly as many sales as John has and equalled his conversion rate. I think I’ve been the more effective worker.
Bob: Good argument, Jane. I have to admit that you’ve floored me on two counts. I’ll give you the prize and I have to say I think you’ll go far in this organisation. Sorry, John. Close but no cigar, as they say.
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