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Corporate Sales... of the Great Corporate Evils.

In a previous vent, I stated that “Sales” was one of the great “Corporate Evils”…

Now, obviously, I don’t mean “sales”, the reason for being in business in the first place… I mean “Sales” the department charged with ensuring that “sales” occur at all.

But, in accepting their raison d’être as an essential corporate premise, I continue to struggle with the basic requirement that they need handling with kid gloves!

I had a heated discussion with a salesman several years ago which seemed to sum up what/who they are. We had sold into a customer beyond a delivery capability and this was going to cause the customer (and us!) an issue. This behaviour is a regular issue with sales people, I would say, and I took the opportunity to point out to this salesman where he’d gone wrong and how to avoid this situation happening again with this or any future customer. In a response that seemed to imply he was having problems comprehending either the words or the very language I was using to describe what had occurred from my end of the business, he simply shrugged his shoulders and said “Look ****, it’s simple… we sell the dream, and you fix the nightmare…” and, with that ‘Parthian shot‘, he simply flounced out. (Although, to be fair, I still quote him to this day…)

The two areas of business who don’t seem in anyway phased by whether the company has delivered to the customer any service whatsoever seem to be “Sales” and “Finance.”

Take Finance (please, will someone take Finance… !), they are totally introspectively business-focussed (in my experience). Bean counters, they look into every aspect of the monies in and out of the business and make arcane plans and forecasts for other financial people, to compare notes and talk about gearing, liquidity ratios and “market cap.”

Pretty much everyone else (again, in my experience) is customer-focussed: service delivery, orders fulfilment, invoicing; at each core is a focus on the customer.

Someone very close to me has recently started out in software sales, and it remains a personal disappointment to me on a scale hard to verbalise. He now uses such phrases as “I’m looking align myself…” I’ve already promised myself I’ll slap him if (when, more like!) I hear him use the word “synergies.”

My trouble is I berate myself for maintaining a halcyon belief that “Sales” can actually be normal and productive people who are capable of doing something for the business that places them behind either the customer and/or the business itself; because, primarily sales people sell for themselves, not the business and certainly not the customer.

And further, I struggle to comprehend how or why this group of misfits, miscreants and mismatched people needs to set itself up and run itself with scant regard for the rest of the business; as if they’re a breed apart and can be allowed to govern and arbitrate themselves as some form of elite, special forces regiment that stands outside the usual governance of the rest of the organisation.

Honestly, there’s nothing special about them; but, oh my lord!, do some of them think there is!!