There they sit. Kind of away from everyone. They have their own table at the company picnic. They’re a strange lot. They have offices but are rarely in them. No one quite knows what they do. They’re just kind of weird. Loners. They keep to themselves. They’re the sales department.
Yes, they’re different. They don’t talk much at headquarters. They just do what they’re supposed to do. The Sales Department doesn’t need much. Just a few resources. As a matter of fact, they don’t demand much. They hope for a little adoration, now and then. And regardless if they get some company love or not, they still go off to conquer another account.
They keep the lines going. Without them, a whole bunch of people in manufacturing would just be standing around. They keep accounts payables and receivables busy. They typically carry an entire company on their shoulders. And yet, they are the first to go.
When business is down, and headcount needs reduced, it is the sales team that typically takes the brunt of criticism. When sales are slow, and anger and resentment starts to permeate the organization, the finger is pointed at those meek and mild road warriors in the sales department.
But while the HR department gets to enjoy dinner at home every night, or the accounting team gets to sleep in their comfortable beds, it is the sales team that are boarding planes, sitting in airports putting presentations together, staring over a pile of data in a dingy hotel room, and trudging samples back and forth to their accounts.
They are an under-appreciated lot and take a lot of blame. They deal with a lot of finger pointing. Yet each day, they arrive, ready to go. They deal with rejection daily. But they come back, persevering, hoping that on the next call they will close the business. And when they get that big fish, the one that keeps the lines going for another year, they simply go on to the next challenge. Sometimes they get a little love an adoration, but for the most part, they get a wink and a nod and maybe a light pat on the back.
When times are tough and business falls off, they feel the criticism and sometimes live with the prospect and indignity of unemployment. They are told by people who have never walked a day in their shoes that they should have somehow done it differently. Their approach, presentation or delivery was flawed. They failed. And often times, they know, that despite their best efforts, failure is ultimately placed squarely on their shoulders.
So, when you see them at the company picnic, sitting alone at their own table, talking amongst themselves, don’t mess with them. Leave them the hell alone. Let them have their moment.
Because they’re the sales department.