Marketing, Sales and Management (and being President)

These are three essential parts of all businesses. The smaller ones may have one or two people wearing these hats, where larger ones have teams of people who do these functions well. It should be noted, that each function has to be managed, yet the skill sets that make someone extremely capable in one function may not translate well to another. Because the job demands are different, the person may not like doing that new function, which causes them not to do it well.

In fact, business is littered with failures when a company moves a successful person into a different role. Often, a company will take a very successful sales person and move them into management of the sales function. It is not uncommon for this change to fail for the person and company. The person would much rather be selling and making more money with commissions and bonuses than managing others. Or, they may just enjoy the interaction with others and the “winning” feeling that occurs when a sale is made. Managing others to do well, does not have that same uplifting experience for many sales people.

The opposite can occur in management. I have seen capable managers who do not thrive in the sales process. The pace, the juggling, the many “no’s” and the constant follow-up and schmoozing, may not be their cup of tea. I have seen many managers (and Presidents of companies), who should never be let near customers or clients.

I worked for a company who had a CEO who was so overbearing and egotistical, that he went to call on the President and CFO of a major client without telling the client manager – a huge sin. Our President was so offensive, he got into an escalating argument with their CEO over useless competitiveness. After he left, the CEO told his CFO who managed the relationship to “fire them.” So, it mattered not we were doing a good job for the client, we were fired.

Marketing is the same way as it differs from sales. It has many functions within its domain, including brand image, brand analysis, and advertising. One of the best examples of marketing success I can think of is the decision to market Alka-Seltzer. What is not known, is although now sold in pairs, only one Alka-Seltzer tablet is needed to cure your stomach ache. Yet, when coming up with an ad-campaign, the song “plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is,” was crafted. The marketing effort doubled the sales of Alka-Seltzer tablets. * A successful manager or sales person, may not be as successful in a marketing role, as it creates a different set of skills within the function.

The reason I am writing this today is we have a Presidential campaign with a man who is a very successful salesperson and brand market leader and a woman who has significant experience and competence in leading and governing. The salesman has numerous examples of failed management experiences where he has sold ideas he should not have sold and has actually misrepresented or overstated the potential success to the buyer. Unfortunately, people and other businesses have been hurt by these misrepresentations.

The manager has a track record of making things happen and delivering on commitments to people. Per the stories told by her husband and others who have known her, competence, collaborating and compromising have all been baked in her DNA and she makes it work by doing her homework, as self professed policy wonk. She will make the better President as she understands the job and knows it involves others in the governance process. On the flip side, he wants to win, but there are many signals that he may not want the job. I think he knows he does not have the temperament, patience or skill sets needed to do the job of President.

Let me close with a story a good friend and salesman told me about his mentor who had a thick Cajun accent. His mentor was a highly successful salesman who was heavily compensated on initial sales and less on recurring or renewal business. Although, he cared about recurring clients, he was more motivated by first time sales. So, he often misrepresented commitments just to make the sale. When my friend said we cannot do what you just said to the new customer, the mentor said, “I know, but we got the ‘oi-der'” which was his Cajun way of saying “order.”

There are many reason not to vote for Donald Trump, but I want people to think of this example. Trump wants to win the “oi-der” and he does not want all the other stuff that comes with it. He won’t do that part very well. On the flip side, I will use the phrase I used when I defined a very good consultant who did not knock your socks off in a sales meeting – “she is the kind of person, whose proposal you may not accept, but she is the person you will want to be married to.” That defines Hillary Clinton, who will make a very good President, as she works at it and knows the job.


*This comes from Malcom Gladwell’s collection of articles he wrote and compiled in a book called “What the Dog Saw.”


17 thoughts on “Marketing, Sales and Management (and being President)

    • I am. I guess I wanted to address more head on that one set of skills does not translate to another. If he wins, he wants Pence to manage. But, no question, having a bigoted, thin-skinned, big mouthed egomaniac in the White House with poor judgment does not work no matter how good a manager he might be.

      • Hugh, he has said he wants to hit people from the DNC who criticized him, which is a bully’s response. Now, he said he just wants to get them back, which brings the nuclear button question to mind. Keith

  1. You have summed it up nicely. People forget about competence in a skill. They get caught up in the show. The real question is – Can either of them do the job competently. A look at their resumes clearly shows the person to hire is Clinton.

      • Agreed. We just need them to vote. I got annoyed with Dr. Cornel West on “Real Time with Bill Maher.” He painted a very unfair picture of Clinton in my view and said he was voting for Jill Stein. Maher had the line of the night.

        He said picture yourself standing on a train platform wanting to go to San Francisco. One train will get you there, but slower than you want. The other train is going to Hell. It was priceless. Keith

      • I sympathize with those who want to change the system and regard Jill Stein as a very strong option. But, as someone said on Facebook recently, the “stakes are too high” in this election. And as you imply, there isn ‘t time to change the system before November!!

      • Excellent point. Bernie was on Maher’s show before the panel discussion. He strongly advocated for Clinton to defeat Trump, but he said the movement will need to keep her and Congress honest the day following. He rightfully encouraged for young folks to get involved in public service and run for office. As we have discussed ALEC has provided cookie cutter legislation to Republican led state. It is not ironic that three states voter ID laws were ruled unconstitutional including my own. The appellate court said the GOP leaders surgically discriminated against African-Americans to suppress their votes. If Stein wants to make another run, then she and her party should organize the day following the election to do that. Right now, we need to avoid catastrophe with Trump.

  2. What great analogies! I agree with Hugh, that you are being kinder than I might have been, but it may make someone actually hear your message who wouldn’t otherwise have listened. Excellent post!

    • Thanks Jill. My main focus was to show that his skill set does not translate to good management or even leadership. Also, most sales people are far more forthcoming than Trump. A key part of my job was to establish relationships and sell consulting services. If I was not forthcoming and misrepresented our services, I would be doing our clients a disservice. From what I have read about Trump, the word exploitive would come to mind, while the word ethical would not. Keith

  3. Note to Readers: A key characteristic of effective managers is they tend to deflect credit to others knowing it is a team effort with many having a role. Always beware of managers who take too much credit and use the pronouns “I” and “me” more than “we” and “us.”

    As for sales, if you treat customers well and build a relationship, you will tend to make more money long term. For example, do not sell them something they don’t need or your company may not do well.

    As for marketing, your brand or name is of utmost importance. So, efforts to build it are essential. Trump is a great example. He uses it as an asset, but many who know him also see it as a liability. He markets it as quality and people buy into it. Even before he announced he was running, when I heard his name I thought ego.

  4. Note to Readers: The story above about the CEO who called on the client and got us fired is unfortunately true. He eventually was let go, but after he wrecked two subsidiaries in the same company. To everyone’s amazement he walked away with over US$ 10 million in severance. When I think of a rigged system as a former compensation and benefits professional, I think of C-Suite compensation in the US, where pay for CEOs is higher relative to average worker much moreso than in other countries. And, having worked with many CEOs as a consultant and employee, the 80/20 rule applies to them, where only about 20% are worth what they are paid. This CEO was not in the 20% group, but his ego was as large as they come, not unlike one of our candidates.

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