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In Pictures: In sales, money's an important motivator - but so is freedom

James Palmer, vice-president of sales and marketing with the Great Little Box Company Ltd., says that the best salespeople don't want to be micromanaged. What they do want, however, is the ability to act like 'franchise owners,' and the opportunity to write their own tickets

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James Palmer is the vice-president of sales and marketing with the Great Little Box Company Ltd. He supervises a team of 14 salespeople in Western Canada and Washington state.

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The company, which is based in Richmond, B.C., started out as a three-person operation in 1982 and has blossomed into a $40-million business with about 250 employees.

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The average tenure of Great Little Box’s sales team is seven years. “If you are a good company, you listen to your staff, you pay fairly, they are not that hard to keep,” he says.

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In terms of hiring top-notch talent, Mr. Palmer says it’s “tougher to find them” than keep them in Paul Brent’s article, ‘First hire, then hang on to the best.’

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“Whether we are hiring or not, I meet with them. I always have a stash of good people.”

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“Instant likability is critically important,” he said. “Someone who has very strong questioning skills, and someone who is a very good listener. I don’t look for presentation people. In our world and in the current sales world, nobody cares about presentations.”

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The conducts seven interviews for each candidate. In the sales department, that means applicants are interviewed not just by Mr. Palmer but by potential colleagues.

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The company regularly opens its books to employees, discusses its business performance and offers many of the progressive perks of larger employers.

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It also has one hiring advantage with which many companies can’t compete, writes Paul Brent. The Great Little Box co. is regularly cited among the best employers in Canada.

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