Way back in the day one of the places that I worked that was 100% commission had an unusual incentive in order to get hard-bitten, driven and cynical commission sales people to show up for things like product knowledge seminars, administrative duties, or anything else that took them off the floor: pay for Non-Productive Time.
In short, NPT was calculated based on your last year’s income divided by hours worked. So for example if your NPT was $18 an hour, that’s what they’d pay you to show up for things like vendor fairs.
Of course, like any expression, “Non-Productive Time” can have more than one meaning. So, it’s a phrase that I’ve adopted, and often applied to refer to activities that, to put it mildly, are not generating revenue.
For example, I used to work with a salesman whose entire non-work life revolved around World of Warcraft, to the point that eventually it began to leak into his work life.
He didn’t actually go so far as to start playing WoW on company computers on company time, but he did spend an inordinate amount of time online talking about it on WoW-oriented forums, researching magic items on WoW FAQ sites, and generally planning his next session of whatever it is people do when they’re playing WoW. As far as I know, he’s still doing it.
Sales isn’t for everybody, it’s a fact. It’s either in your nature or it isn’t. And while it’s good to try new things and make a go of it, eventually some people realize that it’s not for them.
One of the most pointed examples of that was someone I worked with very briefly, who would nip into the back room for ten to fifteen minute cat naps.
I don’t know if he was narcoleptic or not, but the nap breaks on the job got longer, until he was eventually found out by the Store Manager. And that was the last any of us ever saw of him.
Not every example of Non Productive Time can be attributed to poor motivation. Sometimes salespeople are just looking for a little excitement.
Pictured above is a garment trolley. As you can imagine, they’re used in retail to move clothing on hangers around the store. We used them at the department store I worked at.
I can assure you, they’re also a lot of fun to use as skateboards down the aisles before and after store hours. Cornering is tricky, but with practice and a little property damage you’ll get the hang of it pretty quick.
Who cares about reconciling your invoices or tidying your section when there are races to be won and Land Speed Records to be broken?