Weekly Thought – July 7, 2020
Fred’s appreciation of excellence applied especially to sales. “In tough times one of an organization’s most important hires is an accomplished sales force.” In the late 1950s he addressed the management of GENESCO focusing on the topic: “Management’s Responsibility to Salesmen.” Fred used the masculine noun in the title assigned, but demonstrated his great admiration for the talents of men and women. The month of July will feature excerpts from the speech.
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Management’s Responsibility to Salesmen
“Reach that quota,” “Make those calls,” “Get those reports in…”
Salesmen hear this constantly, don’t they? I agree these are necessary in effective sales supervision. However, these commands of leadership will be more actively heard and translated into increased sales when a foundation of mutual responsibility between sales force and sales management has been built.
It starts with management’s responsibility to the salesman. The accent is on our “sowing before reaping”…a Biblical principle continually validated in the successful development of people.
& bull; Management’s first responsibility to the salesman is: Be sure he qualifies for the team. Two problems face us immediately: a) the selection-placement of salesmen and b) the termination of sales people.
First of all, the selection of salesmen should be placed in the hands of responsible management – those with a proven record of successful selection. It takes knowledge, experience, and almost a sixth sense to select the right person, even with all the interviewing and mechanical assistance available. For examples, The Marines and the New York Yankees have a superior selection system. Motivation cannot overcome poor selection.
Even with the most careful selection, however, mistakes will happen. These must be corrected. Pruning the team is difficult but critical. It takes an unusual brand of stamina to remove people from the organization. Many managers do not have the stomach for it. They will wait for a downturn in business or postpone until the sales person fails to the point of starvation.
Usually they rationalize they are being humanitarian, when actually they are being very selfish in trying to avoid an unpleasant experience for themselves. Is it humane to let people out when business is depressed and jobs scarce, or when they are years older rather than doing it when it becomes clear that it needs to be done?
Misfits with little possibility of success should be removed as soon as possible with as little pain as possible. When removal of a person is considered a responsibility rather than a right, there is a great deal more urgency and understanding. Perhaps some of you have had the experience of having a former employee say to you, “Thanks for letting me go. That’s the best thing that ever happened to me, even though I didn’t think so at the time.”
This week think about: 1) How do I think about my responsibilities to my employees? 2) What is the difference between a right and a responsibility at work? 3) Who models this principle for me?
Words of Wisdom: “While these points are specifically for improving management-salesman relationships, many will be helpful in considering management’s relations with all its people.”
Wisdom from the Word: “Commit your works to the LORD, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3 NET Bible)