Monday, April 9, 2007

Controlling the Sales Force?

Q. You are the regional sales manager of an organization that supplies high-quality windows and doors to building supply centers nationwide. Over the last three years, the rate of sales growth has slackened. There is increasing evidence that, to make their jobs easier, salespeople are primarily servicing large customer accounts and ignoring small accounts. In addition, the salespeople are not dealing promptly with customer questions and complaints, and this inattention has resulted in a drop in after sales service. You have talked about these problems with top–management and you are going to design a control system to increase both the amount of sales and the quality of customer service.

Design a control system that you think will best motivate salespeople to achieve these goals.

What relative importance do you put on output control, behavior control and organizational culture in this design.

A. It is impossible, except by manipulation, blackmail or extortion to directly control a sales force's output or behavior. Control systems as they relate to people reduces them to neurotics like Pavlov's dogs or rats in a race to find the cheese in a psych lab maze. Motivation of others is an illusion. People find their own motivations based upon what they deeply value. All that remains, therefore, is organizational culture which is a complex system of interacting values, beliefs, assumptions and goals.

Everyone tries to make their job easier, the trick is to make it easier by making it more productive - individually. If that is not occurring the problem is less about control systems and more about leadership. The only controls associated with leadership are the controls each individual imposes on their own behavior. Leadership sets the standards in this regard. If leaders are exemplars of self-management, a culture of self-management grows around them.



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