In most companies the people at the HO hate the guys who go out and sell. Make no mistake most companies hate the sales guys – employees, agents – are just nomenclatures. By any name they are hated.

The company – I mean the ‘HO’ people LOVE the cheques they bring, but hate the sales guys – and this manifests itself in many ways..let us look at some of them:

1. You know our sales guys have fun travelling – look at their travel bills.

Statement made by the head of accounts. My take: I travel in reasonable luxury – some times in sheer luxury, but believe me travel, business or leisure is no great fun. The head of sales is answerable for sales profitability too, right? Just a jealousy statement – accountants do not get incentives, but they make the cheques!

2. Our sales guys have fun – they need not report to the office at 10am:

Statement made by head of HR.

My take: A genuinely filled in sales call sheet is good enough for me. Even better if he is getting the cheques, I care a damn what he is doing during the day or night.

There are many such millions of statements that the ‘HO’ guys make about the sales guys. In one case there was a sales guy on a salary of Rs. 3 lakhs – and he had earned about Rs. 19 lakhs as incentive. When he fell ill for a month, and spent about Rs. 1.5L the COO refused to clear any medical reimbursement (the HR was reporting to the COO) – saying he has earned ‘enough’ to pay for his medical expenses. I asked him if the head of accounts and finance (earning about Rs. 27L) had fallen ill, would he have paid, he said yes – afterall ‘he deserves his salary’ he added. LOL.

The worst thing of course is tinkering with the incentive structure – or bluntly lie about the eligibility. I know of companies who first bring a straight forward incentive scheme – if you bring money for the company, you will be rewarded. However as the incentive amount increases, some HO guy will tinker with the incentive system – and tinker bad. I have seen incentives come down from 19 lakhs to Rs. 3 lakhs in the next year JUST BECAUSE THE RULES were changed.

Reminds me of Ayn Rand’s John Galt as the sales guys…so you know who is the villian, do you not?


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  1. Subra,

    Have been witness to one such incident during early days! HO guys flatly refusing to pay the sales guy the incentives – saying company cannot afford it! Whatever that means.

  2. guess the hatred for sales is short lived…

    the ingenuity and insights sales guys offered is way better than those sitting in office and enabling the sales guys facing the heat,..

  3. Aditya – sales guys are out in the field…unless it is an MNC or an owner driven company. Most of them cannot understand the machinations of the HO guys. So these guys being cheated is quite common. When things go wrong, again HO guys will blame sales strategy, lack of training, etc. – thus it is the sales guy who is the fall guy!

    Eitherways they lose!!!

  4. wasnt it Peter Drucker who said,that Marketing alone is the profit center for a company? The rest (including R&D) are just costs.

    if you cant sell,even the greatest innovation and research wont put food on your table.

    on a different note:
    once steve jobs was meeting with an ad agency executive.he asked ‘are you the guy who writes the copy’. ‘no’. ‘are you the guy who does the picture/art’. ‘no’. jobs bluntly says ‘oh,so you are the overhead,then’!

  5. Dear Subra Sir,

    My son is in the final year of Engineering in Electronics and he wanted to go for a sales carrier instead of a software job.
    Kindly give your valuable suggestion

  6. ultimately all jobs are sales jobs – internally or externally. At the start of the career it is nice to go for a sales job. Remember it is the only function that can never be outsourced.

    So by all means he should go for it.

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