Sunday, January 13, 2013
Ignore the Wishes of Sales Department at Your Own Peril
I had dinner with a friend and business partner who is an extremely famous businessman in Japan and in New Zealand. Hell, he has even been featured in the New York Times more than once! He was the first foreigner to ever IPO a company in Japan. In fact, he brought the first two foreign owned companies to the Tokyo Stock Exchange by a foreign founder in history. From those two deals he became a many times over multi-millionaire... Gee...Do you think it might be wise for me to listen to his advice?
He was telling me about a General Manager that was just terminated a few months ago from one of Japan's largest internet services.
He told me that they guy wouldn't listen to people and especially ignored the wishes of sales department.
Anyone with business experience knows that is a sure-fire way to failure.
My friend explained it to me like this:
"Imagine that, Mike, you are the boss of, say, a company that makes vacuum cleaners. Sales have been going consistently down for the last few years. You need to do something. You have a sales force that's been with you for years, and knows the market.
Your company desperately needs to do something to get customers back to buying your vacuum cleaners. There are a few options from designers and factories and you must choose one to be the unit line-up that you make.
The sales department all want to make model A, but you think model B is better.
So even with all the evidence that you have compiled to prove that Model B is better, Sales - the people on the ground - are convinced that A is better. you ignore the wishes of sales department - not even offering any compromise - and you manufacture Model B.
Big mistake! Why? Now sales department feels that you don't listen to them and that their opinion isn't important. The sales department thinks that you don't know what you are talking about since it is they, and not you, who are in the field talking to clients and potential buyers.
Is this a good result?
Maybe model B is better. But sales now feels disrespected or that their opinion doesn't matter. Are they now a Gung-ho sales force ready to sell the world? Or are the a disillusioned and disgruntled group that sighs at work and goes fishing a lot or even to play pachinko?
This was the worst result that could have happened. The project will fail because the sales force won't be motivated. This error in management has happened over and over and will continue to happen.
So, in our case, we fired the guy after a couple of years. I wanted to fire him within 6 months."
It's obvious, isn't it?
Good management will decide nothing on their own. Bad management will decide and will also be obstinate. Good management will gather all important parties and have a discussion - even several - and try to gather a consensus. Bad management doesn't. If there is a hung jury or a decision cannot be made by staff, then and only then, should management step in and make a decision. Bad management decides and then informs.
This is common business sense and well known professional management technique. to do otherwise is to risk your own job.
Ignore the wishes of sales staff and your own staff at your own peril!
For a more detailed description of these techniques and how to use them to keep your job! Please read the multi-million selling management books by Chris Collins, "Built to Last - The Successful Habits of Visionary Companies" and "From Good to Great - Why Some Companies Make it and Others Don't."