Respect the sales force

I had wanted to write about this sometime ago, but i didn’t because i thought i might sound…hollow

I myself am not a sales guy, as in I never do sales function as a living, so who am I to speak about why sales guys need to be respected.

Well, I think there’s 2 major reason:

1. There’s no bottom line without the top line, all this talk about “think about the bottom line, the bottom line!!” is pretty much bullshit without the sales force. No sales, no revenue, then you can throw all your strategic initiatives and cost cutting and efficiency and optimization to heck. No sales, no revenue, no bottom line.

2. Considering the 1st reason, there’s simply a gross lack of respect for the sales force. Yeah, some people pat them in the back while on one-on-one face-to-face communication, but a secret contempt is apparent when they address the sales force in the public of the sales force, and a more overt contempt when they speak about the sales force behind their back.

Sales guys allows us to bring our paycheck, without them, there’s simply no budget to pay for our salary.

Me, i’m a corporate guy, corporate to the bone. I start my work time in the ivoriest of ivory tower, the top tier strategy consulting firm. Uuuhhh, we’re the smart guys, we’re the guys who with the strength of our analytical brain can find patterns and paths that other minds stumble on. Fuck you know, we create strategy. If there’s a pyramid of specialization and fanciness, we’ll be at the very top. Totally, strategy consulting firm are the guys that company pays after they become so stable, they can pay the overhead to address “the strategic issues”. We’re kinda like the army of researchers that can only be afforded by the rich countries of the world.

But after i left the ivory tower, and thanks to the “investigate sales improvement ares” road trip at the beginning of my time in my new employer, i find that it’s simply ridiculous to not respect the sales force.

Mind you, during the roadtrip i was wearing my consulting head, and even then, seeing the extent of shit the sales force face day in day out, and linking this with the chain of numbers in a income statement, i learn to respect the sales function.

Not reward, not praise, but respect.

I sometimes hear some manager says, “these guys cut corners like crazy, they cannot be trusted”, “they’re to lazy to follow procedures”

And my most memorable quote “the most important thing is the branch, the sales force is useless”

I was shocked, shocked. I mean, is the branch important in retail banking? TOTALLY with caps lock all around. But if the sales force is useless, then why don’t we fire them all right now and see what happen to sales?

The lack of respect is so large, so intense, it allows logic to be sidestepped during an argument about the sales force. You ever heard about “blinding rage”? Now, how about “blinding contempt”?

And, if the branch is so important to sales, then what are we at corporate doing to make the branch wanting to make to do sales? What are we doing saying “the salesforce are useless”, while we haven’t execute all possible support ourselves? What have I at corporate gave to the branch that affords me the right to judge the sales force?

And about: “these guys cut corners like crazy, they cannot be trusted”, well, you push, whip, and slap the sales force to deliver without fail without excuse, to be craze hunters basically, and you expect them not to cut corners in other areas? C’mon, if you want guys with tight compliance awareness , hire auditors to be your sales force.

And about: “they’re to lazy to follow procedures”. They have like, 7 days a week to deliver revenue. While their boss, their boss boss’, their boss boss boss’, and their boss boss boss’ are pounding numbers into them. They do not eat if they don’t deliver sales, they do not eat if they do not maximize their time to do sales. How can you expect them to follow procedures if you don’t give them the time to do that? But then, there’s simply no time for sales, we want them to be out there selling. Then what do we need to do? we need to help them to follow the procedures

Is the sales force perfect? No

I would say almost all accusations i heard being said about the sales force are true to some extent (but not the “the sales force are useless” bit, the logic of the statement fails)

Managing the sales force is like herding kittens at best, and some of the sales guys I met elicit this “who is the idiot who hire this guy” comment in my head

But consider the shit they face (no, the word “shit” there is not profanity, it’s reality), consider facing the uncertainty of your income, consider facing the hammering demand of your boss day, consider the 20 rejection needed to make 1 sale, consider doing a superb job this year, being awarded for it, and having that superb job forgotten and discounted the day right after the award. Consider the feelings involve if you are in such situation. Consider doing that job and living with that filling 24 hours of your day, 7 days of your week.

Consider that the people doing  and feeling this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, allows your paycheck to be paid.

Respect the sales force.


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