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Publisher's Outlook
February 2002

Nadji Tehrani

The Death Of The Sales Manager
The Evolution Of Sales And Sales Management


To do justice to this subject matter, one must make reference to Arthur Millers legendary play entitled, The Death of a Salesman. To refresh your memory, Miller won a Pulitzer Prize for his work, which he described as, the tragedy of a man who gave his life, or sold it in pursuit of the American dream. The main character in the play is Willy Loman, who, after many years on the road as a traveling salesman, realizes he has been a failure as a father and husband. His sons Happy and Biff are not successful on his terms (being well-liked). Willys main claim to fame was to use a smile and a shoeshine as the only sales technique one needs to be successful in sales.

To say the least, Arthur Miller taught us that selling success need not be at the expense of being a failure as a father or a husband. In other words, being a great salesperson and being a great father/mother and a husband/wife does not have to be mutually exclusive. For this alone, I think he richly deserved the Pulitzer Prize, for today, far too many people are placing business success ahead of the family and being a good father/mother and a good husband/wife.

Today we have learned that Willys legendary smile and a shoeshine selling technique is only 5 to 10 percent of selling skills. There are plenty of other things that go into selling success today, which have been addressed in previous Publishers Outlooks in this publication over the last two decades.

Selling EvolutionFrom Door-To-Door To Electronic Selling
If you truly look at Arthur Millers play, I am sure the fact that Willy Loman was a traveling salesman and often away from his family significantly contributed to his failure to be a good father and a good husband. We have also learned that by using electronic means, we can reach as many as 35 or 40 customers per day by simply using the principles of outbound telemarketing. Door-to-door (company-to-company) selling techniques simply have not worked since the early 1980s, when the concept of telemarketing came into being.

Telemarketing Was The Renaissance Of Selling, Like The Industrial Revolution Was To Manufacturing
In the late 1970s, being disenchanted with the performance of my door-to-door sales staff, I picked up the phone one day and in about one hour I was able to reach six customers and sell three pages of advertising. By the end of the week, and while working ONLY an hour a day, I was able to sell 15 pages of advertising for our publication called Radiation Curing back in 1979. That encouraged me that I may have discovered something. I conducted a literature search and found no information pertaining to the use of the telephone in selling. By then I realized that indeed I might have discovered a new electronic method of selling. As a first order of business, I filed for a registered trademark for the word Telemarketing. When the United States Patent and Trademark Department issued our registered trademark for Telemarketing, I was then sure, more than ever before, that we certainly were on to something.

In 1982, we decided to launch Telemarketing magazine and share our newly discovered concept with the rest of the world. To the extent that this was a pioneering effort, it seemed that no one else besides us, as far as we could tell, was doing anything like this and, therefore, our new great magazine was in jeopardy of not having enough to write about. With great difficulty and with a lot of blood, sweat and tears and with tremendously hard work on the part of our staff, particularly Linda Driscoll, who I am proud to say has been associated with the editorial staff of this publication since 1982, we were able to lay the foundation for what is now the multibillion-dollar telemarketing, call center, customer interaction and CRM business and technology. Yes, it was very difficult to get this great concept off the ground, but the joy of being successful and actually changing the course of selling from door-to-door to electronic means was definitely worth all the problems. Incidentally, the tag line for Telemarketing magazine was: The Magazine Of Electronic Marketing & Communications.

From Young And Arrogant Scientist To Respectful Salesman
In my early career, I was hired by one of the largest chemical companies in the world as a research chemist. This company had a great policy in which they would transfer promising young employees from department to department in order to give them diversified experience and prepare them for bigger and better things in the future. I once complained to my boss by saying, I studied chemistry and chemical engineering in college. Why am I working in the sales department, marketing department or human resource department? The supervisor answered, What you studied in college is what you think you are good at. We want to find out what you really are good at. The supervisors wisdom and logic was so overpowering that it overcame my young and inexperienced arrogance and helped me realize that what they were doing to me was actually good for the company and good for me. During the above period when I was transferred to the sales department, on my first day, the sales manager came to me and gave me a tie clip on which the following abbreviations appeared: YCDBSOYA. I asked him what it stood for. He said, You Cant Do Business Sitting On Your Ass. In other words, the sales manager wanted me to travel company-to-company and sell. If you look at this situation carefully, you will see that Arthur Millers proverbial salesmans business model fits exactly into what my sales manager expected of me, which was be on the road all the time and sell company-to-company and door-to-door. If one does not do justice to the situation, this particular scenario spells disaster for the family, including having dysfunctional children and an unhappy married life. Thus, the death of the salesman. By contrast, by minimizing the door-to-door, on-the-road grind of selling, telemarketing has helped contribute to the quality of family life.

The CEO Had A Good Idea
After the second year of publishing Telemarketing magazine, one day Mr. Larry Kaplan, CEO of Tele Business USA, an outstanding B-to-B teleservices outsourcing company, called me and said, Nadji, do you know what is the greatest achievement of telemarketing? I gave him a half a dozen suggestions, but he didnt buy any of them, then I gave up and asked Larry, What do you think is the greatest achievement of telemarketing? He answered, Telemarketing has proved that YOU CAN DO BUSINESS SITTING ON YOUR ASS! And when you think about it, this is 100 percent right on. This must have been the greatest evolution in sales: that of transforming the sales process from door-to-door to contacting 35 to 40 customers per day versus 2 or 3 companies or customers per day via the door-to-door method. And, of course, we have learned that selling is a numbers game. He or she who makes the greatest number of calls to the right audience, sells the most. And thusthe phenomenal success of the telemarketing industry, which has now evolved into CRM, contact center, call center and assorted other names, all of which are based on the same principles of inbound and outbound telemarketing, which this publication has taught to the whole world since 1982.

Jack Welchs Philosophy On Sales Management
Last October, my son Rich and I had the great honor of having breakfast with Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of General Electric, who has outperformed any other CEO known to mankind.

That day was one of the highlights of my life, being so close to such a great man whose accomplishments were far and beyond any other CEO in the world. In response to what is the most effective way to handle your sales managers, I recall that Jack replied, There are four types of sales managers, as follows:

  1. A sales manager who upholds company values, i.e., integrity, always doing the right thing for the customer and legally earning a living. If the sales manager upholds the above values and makes the budget numbers, that sales manager is worth his weight in gold.
  2. A sales manager who does not uphold company values and does not meet the numbers. The solution: Get rid of him!
  3. A sales manager who upholds the values, but does not make the numbers. This person deserves a second chance.
  4. A sales manager who does not uphold the values, but makes the numbers. Jacks solution: Get rid of him!

Among other words of wisdom that we learned from Jack that memorable day were as follows:

  • A company must always be ready to change.
  • 5-year plans are a waste of time and they are worthless.
  • Im a coach and a cheerleader and I love to win.
  • Every employee must feel they can reach their dream by working for the company.

Wow, I really learned a great deal just from those comments. Naturally, his best selling book called Jack: Straight From The Gut is highly recommended. I have enjoyed reading it and I strongly recommend every business leader read it.

Not only has the evolution from door-to-door to electronic selling changed the methodology of sales, customer service, CRM and the whole customer interaction area, but also, it has completely transformed the sales management process. To be sure, a smile and a shoeshine simply does not cut it anymore. Over the years, as electronic selling has increased selling productivity dramatically, by the same token, it has changed the function of sales management, i.e., managing, hiring, compensation, motivation and recognition, and providing guidelines and controls have also changed. Heretofore, a personal interview would do the job, but today, not only do you need a personal interview, you also need to do a telephone interview. Once hired, train the person extensively about product knowledge, competitive knowledge and industry knowledge, and above all, instill in the salespeople that they must under promise and over deliver and always hold the salesperson responsible for upholding company values and meeting the sales objectives.

To effectively manage the modern sales staff, one must continue to train the people, explaining the value of maintaining an up-to-date database: daily cleaning of the database is vital to success. In addition, the modern salesperson must know that today is the age of relationship selling. And that means you must be of service to your customers at all times and dont just call to ask for the order. Call to wish them happy birthday, happy anniversary or happy holidays and ask if there is anything I can do for you. These are simple things that help reinforce relationships, and relationships are vital in sales because 75 percent of all buying decisions are based on emotion. In plain English, if you dont have a relationship with the customer, dont even think of getting the business.

The Death Of The Sales Manager
Last but not least, one needs to address this great phenomenon, which in many ways is sad, but its true, therefore, it must be stated. Not long ago, I met with the Vice President of Sales of one of the largest magazine printing companies, who was soliciting our business. During the social conversation, he asked me, Do you promote from within? I answered, Promotion from within is our middle name. In fact, I stated, in 2000, nearly 70 percent of the employees at TMC were promoted. He was very impressed and stated, Then I am sure you will enjoy the following story.

A farmer who enjoyed duck hunting had a dog that was exceptionally effective in hunting down the ducks that were shot down. The farmer, looking at the dogs performance and personality, named the dog Salesman. Pretty soon Salesmans reputation spread through the small town where the farmer lived and the town leaders called the farmer and stated, We understand that you have a great hunting dog and we would like to go out duck hunting with you and your dog. And so they did. Of course, Salesman impressed all of the town leaders that indeed he was extremely hard working, very talented and very motivated in performing his duties. At the end of the day, everyone was grateful to the farmer.

A week went by and the town leaders called the farmer again and asked to go out duck hunting because the last time was a fantastic event and the town leaders insisted that Salesman must come along. The farmer said, I would be happy to go out hunting with you, except that I am sorry to tell you I shot Salesman. People asked why. The farmer stated, Well, the salesman did such a good job, I promoted him to sales manager and thereafter, all he did was sit on his ass and bark all day and got nothing done!

There is a strong message in this story, which I think is not far from the truth in many cases. One of the most commonly made mistakes by management is to take a top producing salesperson and promote him or her to sales manager. The mistake becomes even more damaging if the salesperson has been doing well in a good economy and then promoted. The fact is, even if the salesperson was outstanding in selling during a bad economy, that still does not mean that he or she would make a good manager. As always, I welcome and encourage your valued e-mails and comments.


Nadji Tehrani
TMC Chairman, CEO and
Executive Group Publisher

[ Return To February 2002 Table Of Contents ]

Congratulations To The MVP Quality Award Winners!

On behalf of the entire teleservices, CRM, call center and customer interaction industries, and our own editorial staff, I extend a heart-felt congratulations to the 35 winners of the coveted MVP Quality Award. This award is bestowed upon them by the editors of Customer Inter@ction Solutions, which has been regarded by The Wall Street Journal as The Bible of the Industry.

In the mid 1990s, when Wall Street first became aware of the phenomenal growth of the teleservices/CRM/customer interaction and call center industries, there was a gold rush by many Wall Streeters and financial institutions to chase and acquire teleservices companies and take them public. This love affair with Wall Street lasted for about 18 months. The pressure by Wall Street for rapid growth forced many companies to over expand and therefore cut prices in order to get the business. By so doing, in spite of many warnings by me in my editorials as well as in my keynotes at TMC-sponsored conventions to guard teleservices quality, literally with their lives, many companies ignored such warnings and the once outstanding quality of teleservices, which attracted the Wall Streeters in the first place, dwindled and we all paid a price for it.

It is indeed gratifying to notice that a significant majority of teleservices companies have dedicated themselves to produce outsourced teleservices with the highest attainable quality as judged by the editors of Customer Inter@ction Solutions. Congratulations are in order to the top management was well as the employees of these companies whose great work and dedication has brought such great honor to their companies by earning the industrys most coveted award, namely the MVP Quality Award. Congratulations and best wishes.
[ 2001 MVP Quality Award Winners ]

[ Return To February 2002 Table Of Contents ]

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