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Penny Wise, Dollar Foolish

by David Brock on April 21st, 2010

My friend Skip Anderson wrote an outstanding post, “The Race To Sale Competence, A Case For Sales Training.”  He raises a critical issue:

As sales managers, are we so focused on managing expense that we lose sight of the opportunity?

 Skip speaks to the issue that many sales managers fail to invest in sales training, consequently lose the opportunity to increase revenues and sales success.

I see this in too many aspects of business.  Managers have become focused on managing expense, not managing opportunity and the inherent risks.  Managing expense is important–but it’s easy.  In the words of Nancy Reagan, manager’s just say “No.”  Business growth rarely occurs by focusing on managing expense, bur rather from adroitly addressing opportunities and managing risk.  It’s the manager’s job to assess new opportunities, understand the investments required, assess risk, develop and execute plans to win.

Sales leaders are under great pressure, as all functional managers are.  Corporate executives constantly press for expense reduction.  Too often, some accountant, somewhere in the organization stops a critical project because of budget.  But isn’t it the job of sales managers to fight for those budgets, to invest in new opportunities to grow.  Whether it’s sales training, new tools, people, programs or other things that drive new business.  Not all of these will be approved, but even winning one drives growth and improvement.

As sales professionals, we go to our customers, asking them to invest in our products and services.  We create great arguments about how the value exceeds the cost and risk.  Seems to me, the same should be done within our organizations.

I’m not being naive, I understand the challenges and constraints.  It seems, however, that too many managers have succumbed, just focusing on expense and not addressing the opportunity.

Am I being too simplistic?

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3 Comments
  1. David,

    Jill Konrath addressed this issue a while back on her blog and part of the problem is the company, not the sales manager. I even experienced this last year with one of my clients who was tasked with reducing his annual operating expenses by $1M. Needless to say, training was one of the first expenses to be cut.

    Unfortunately, the impact of decisions like this are seldom felt immediately. However, over time, sales people will become less effective which will result in a gradual decline in sales or marketshare. Then, predictably, executives will push for further cutbacks.

    It’s an endless cycle.

    • Thanks for the comment Kelley. It’s a terrible cycle, soon managers will find they can’t cut or save their way into growth. Prudent executives know they need to invest in growth, whether it is in training, processes, tools or in other areas. I think you, Jill, and others in the community need to continue to make sales professionals and executives aware of the impact of these cutbacks.

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