By Tom Richardson and Augusto Vidaurreta
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Extra resources for Business Is a Contact Sport
In the earlier case of the cereal company, if a CRO had been on the job, he would have pointed out that abruptly laying off seasoned salespeople would jeopardize relationships built up over time with store managers, and that those relationships were valuable assets. Those salespeople were the owners of customer relationships. The decision to lay them off created risks, which the CRO would have worked to eliminate or at least mitigate. The CRO also would have worked not necessarily to stop the lay-offs, but certainly to preserve the underlying relationships, perhaps by retaining the seasoned salespeople as consultants for a period of time or employing a phased-in approach to bringing in new salespeople.
What were the wins for the divisional salespeople? Rather than wins, they lost their autonomy and, quite possibly, standing with their customers. Thus, they viewed the RMs as a threat. ” Third, they had no real preparation for the role. Finally, there was no strategic approach to relating the RMs’ activities to the goals, success factors, and risks of the divisions. The RMs were supposed to review contracts across the divisions and tag along on sales calls to create “synergy” between divisions, but that was too vague an objective.
We went beyond merely introducing ourselves to the people in the career development office and posting job openings on bulletin boards. We developed opportunities to speak to students on campus in forums on business and technology subjects, and one of us taught several classes in project management as a guest lecturer. When we hired a recent graduate, we made him part of the team that maintained the relationship with that university. They called their professors as well as students who were going to graduate in the PRINCIPLE #2: DEVELOP A GAME PLAN ❘ 33 next class and told them that we would be recruiting on campus the following week and that they should definitely stop by to meet us.