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You have to wonder at the logic (or lack thereof) and the personalities of VPs of Sales, VPs of Sales & Marketing (why do companies give people responsibility for sales AND marketing?) Sales Directors, Sales Managers, and others responsible for running sales organizations. Granted, they have bosses, like the rest of us, who want information now and results yesterday. But you still have to wonder.

Their logic must go something like this: I have to constantly beat my people up to deliver forecasts, lead lists, qualified-prospect lists, sales-call schedules, expense reports, budget plans, expense-against-budget projections, and expense-against-budget-against-forecasted-revenue reports. I also have to hound them relentlessly to update SalesForce, Insightly, Pipedrive, Infusionsoft, TeamSupport, Marketo, Freshdesk, Prophet, NetSuite, Spiceworks, PlanPlus, Five9, PipelineDeals, Hatchbuck, Really Simple Systems, Workbooks, LeadMaster, Base, ProsperWorks, Yogi, Boo Boo, and every other CRM system or database by which they justify their existences so I can justify mine. And if I do that, everything will somewhere in the range of Hunky Dory to Peachy.

Their personalities are even more fascinating: They have to be some inscrutable combinations of Type A neurotics, wishful thinkers, cockeyed optimists, and abject deniers of reality. Otherwise, they’d realize — with all of the forecasting, lead listing, qualified-prospect listing, sales-call scheduling, expense reporting, budget planning, expense-against-budget projecting, and expense-against-budget-against-forecasted-revenue reporting they’re compelling their salespeople to do — the salespeople don’t have time to make sales calls or sales. It’s no wonder the folks who run sales organizations are more adept at covering their tracks than Tonto.

So, how do we make the heads of sales organizations less reality-averse and more effective? Darned if we know. If it were up to us, the best we could do is offer a few rational suggestions:

  • We’d let sales managers manage and report.
  • We’d let salespeople sell.
  • We’d let sales managers and salespeople use their tools, instead of being used by them.
  • And we’d tell the truth, rather than turning sales reporting into creative exercises, Kemosabe.

We do, of course, recognize how naïve that is. And we’re very much aware of this:

If rationality were easy, everybody would do it.