Sales Management War (Horror) Story

I don’t mind admitting that I have made some horrendous mistakes as a salesperson and sales manager. Early on in my sales management life I let my emotions run rampant. Not against salespeople but against management. Suffice to say that when I saw any kind of ass backwards logic or stupidity from any level of management I let the powers that be know that they were wrong. That attitude wasn’t right then nor is it right now. Here’s the story.

Picture a room with three field sales managers and the national sales manager. It was two weeks before the end of the fiscal year and our boss, the national sales manager, delivered the sales targets for the next fiscal year. It was always my philosophy that when you received the revenue goals you accepted them and went out to make them. Were there acceptions? Probably, but for the most part whatever goals I received I accepted and found a way to make them either as a sales rep or a sales manager. The situation here was no different.

One of the sales managers at the time was a female who had responsibility for the western part of the country. She saw the sales numbers for her region and proceded to move to the white board and explain why her numbers were unreasonable. At the time we were working for a medical company that sold a product that had one competitor. The product was hot, as was the procedure where the product was used. Imagine low-hanging “sales” fruit for 3-4 years. So, I sat there with the other sales manager and proceeded to get steamed! This lady had never managed salespeople before nor had she ever managed a sales territory but here she was preaching about her high sales target.

And I lost it. It had been a long five days away from home. I imagine that I was out the night before enjoying the night life in San Francisco. I was short on patience because this was 1 PM in the afternoon and my flight left at 2:30. I proceeded to tell this person that she was way off base, she didn’t know what the heck she was talking about and on and on and on. Of course, having taken a stupid pill that day I laced some of my comments with bits of unacceptable language.

In the face of this onslaught the lady got emotional herself and broke down crying! The very first thing I thought about was, what had I done to this person? The second thought was, why did I do it? The third thing was, did I just toss my career down the drain. I’ll cut to the chase and tell you what happend and then outline one of the laws of sales management. I sent a dozen roses to the lady as soon as I got home. I also apologized to her for the emotional display and promised that nothing like that would ever happen again at any time in my career to anyone. I have lived up to that promise. By the way, I survived the outburst as did the other managers. We all went on to work well together and make a lot of money.

Oh my, is there a lesson here! Emotional outbursts belong behind closed doors with a shrink, not in any environment where other people will be affected. No matter what you think or feel about corporate goals, pronouncements, emails take them in and process them mentally first. Put the messages into some perspective. What was the topic? Who sent the information? Why did they send it? Who will be affected? What was the real message? As you hear or read information that steams you, let that steam roll off you first before you react and then think of how you want to address the information. It is just not worth over reacting to what you hear or read.

The Final Word: Listen, think and then react-with wisdom not passion.


One thought on “Sales Management War (Horror) Story

  1. Tom,

    firstly thanks for your comments on ezinearticles, it’s good to know there are some sales people who are truly passionate about what they do.

    Secondly, thanks for pointing me to this great resource. I really admire the way you write. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the similar situations I have been in and you are right there is no place for emotional venting of any kind. I save it all up and vent it watching my favourite football team.

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