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Down, Not Out

Your reps not selling like they used to? Don't worry-they can be rehabilitated.

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This story appears in the December 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

While quick to stomp them when down, we Americans are exceedingly forgiving when fallen sports, political and entertainment heroes show signs of recovering their former glory. With a soft spot for philanderers, drug addicts and the generally misdirected, we cheer when the fallen rebound-think Marv Albert (a fine sportscaster who looks good in hose), Bill Clinton (hate him or love him, the man just keeps coming back) and Julia Roberts (remember Mary Reilly and Everyone Says I Love You?). You may find solace in these comeback tales, especially when the salesperson you hired to make rain is in the midst of a serious drought.

Consider the career trajectory of "Steve" (not his real name), a salesperson who, after 20 years of stellar performance in the printing business, hit rough waters at Great Lakes Cos. in Cleveland. With a national clientele, the $45 million printing company was diversifying by adding three new companies and several specialties, including database management, pre-press and digital management services. While the new product lines were a must, the supporting technologies proved onerous for Steve. Unable to answer customers' questions, the printing veteran was producing frightful sales stats.

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