By Bob Williams
Wending our ways through the annals of corporate history in the shipping industry, there will always be stories about the decisions someone "up top" made that indicated, without a doubt, their detachment from reality. As our base of education moves upward (yes, that's a geological measure), it becomes more and more apparent that we are suffering a rapidly growing gap in the competences of people who attempt sales management!
When there's a shortage of competence - whether it happens through lack or interest, thinking we already know it all or simple transference of ignorance - then someone has to please the master, so to speak! If sales is not performing to expectations, then SOMEONE has to be responsible. If that someone doesn't really know what to do, then the DCD (Dumb Corporate Dog) tricks abound! These tricks are not fiction.
We learn from the dog whisperer, that most doggies behave badly as a result of their master's inept handling. Peter Drucker surely knew this about management, but how many managers in corporations know it today? Dogs cannot be held accountable for reading, becoming educated and learning what the smarter thinkers in the world say or write... People can. People should.
One of the DCD tricks that tends to set the stage for others is an old one: "If we have a person who's really good at sales, LET'S PROMOTE THEM!" This has been proven many times to be a sure way to disenfranchise the team, and scuttle the leader.
Another pseudo rational DCD trick: "LET'S HAVE THE SALES MANAGER HAVE SOME OF THEIR OWN CUSTOMERS!" Justification can be amusing. In a recent meeting I heard an upper level hiring manager explain that, "our sales team will only respect a sales manager if they can bring in their own business"! So, who gets to pick the sales manager's customers? Who is devoting time to strategy development for the team? Who's on call for coaching, process improvement, obstacle removal, etc,etc,etc... The true corporate costs multiply exponentially - with special demands on operations, customers service...
Another famous DCD trick: "Let's make up numbers for the sales goals, and tell the sales guys they have to make these numbers "or else"! Ah, even without the "or else" this one is a prime indicator that a) sales management is clueless and b) the CFO - or whatever - is on serious illegal drugs.
Have seen it happen that management got stuck with unrealistic numbers because the "way up management" said "that's what we need to keep the business running" - again, most doggies perform badly as a result of their master's inept handling.
DCD trick: "Let's order sales to "make at least 5 sales calls per week on new, unknown customers"! Any minimum numbers applied to sales calls indicates poor leadership, lack of understanding of the business or a preference for quantity over quality. This one, in a relationship sell, in shipping, with no sales support... Anyone for Milk Bones?
DCD trick: "Let's make pricing add 7% CAF (or whatever) to EVERY quotation, regardless of the fact that we are already $500 over the market on every offer." To make sure, quote all rates to sales people on PDF forms so they can't alter them! "Now, go get 'em!"
Like any list of dog tricks, you probably have your own version that may be dumber or funnier than any of these!? Keeping within my parameters means this short list is it for now, but you get the idea. Would love to see any you have to share. Who knows? We may have a DCD trick contest to see who gets a box of Milk Bones!! After all, with most DCDs, you don't even get a Milk Bone!!!
R Fain (Bob)