The air is brisk. The holiday chocolate is all gone. And, at last, the gluttonous end-of-year feast of discounted software licenses is complete.
It must be that time of year. Time for the Annual Worldwide Sales Meeting.
And what would a monstrous sales meeting be without…
Over-the-top parties, complete with ice sculptures, minor celebrities-for-hire, free-flowing booze, cigars, cigars, and more cigars. Where else can you get the free show of the Sales Gods and Goddesses groping each other? Or see that gaggle of 20-something Marketing Blondes throwing themselves at the married, yet playboy-esque, CEO? Where else can the Cranky Product Manager be essentially forced to dance with two to five male Sales Engineers and Product Managers at once, all because — as geeks — they are too intimidated to ask the Marketing Blondes or Sales Goddesses?
The Endless Awards Ceremony. It seems that everyone in Sales and Professional Services – even the spreadsheet jockeying Sales Ops guys — gets some kind award: “Rookie of the Year for the Western Chicagoland region”, “MVP for the Southern Florida region”, “The Billability King/Queen”, “Best Proposal Award,” “The Cold Caller Award”, “The Leading Lead Qualifier,” “Best Forecasting Spreadsheet,” and on and on and on…. and on and on…
And then, the real awards. Real awards with real prizes for all the Sales Droids that managed to actually do their jobs and achieve their quota. Congratulations — you did what DysfunctoSoft hired you to do! Here’s your all-expenses-paid trip to Aspen! Bring your spouse and go skiing for an entire week! And no need to deduct it from your vacation time!
But more importantly, where’s the award for the Cranky Product Manager, beeyotches? Why are the only people ever formally recognized at DysfunctoSoft, in any fashion, all in Sales and Professional Services? Why no awards for Engineering, Marketing, or Customer Support — or, more importantly, for Product Management? The Cranky Product Manager wants HER tiny frakin’ statuette to display in her cubicle, goddammit. She wants HER one-week trip, with her SPOUSE, during the WORKING WEEK, to the most luxurious resort in the Bahamas. Why is she perpetually denied?
The Networking - A unique opportunity to meet all those brand spankin’ new sales reps, the ones that replaced all the fired sales reps with whom you carefully cultivated relationships at last year’s Sales Kickoff. Make it fun! Randomly populate a 5×5 matrix with the names of the new reps. In addition to helping you remember their names, when the Sales Rep firing-fest begins you can play “Bye Bye Bingo” with your fellow PMs!
The Training – Ah, yes. Training. Your raison d’être. The only reason why you, as a Product Manager, are even present at Sales’s celebration of itself: to train the account reps, sales engineers and consultants on your products. Too bad they are all too drunk or hung over to remember a single thing you say. And for the more technical sessions, too bad that no matter how many times you and your boss and their bosses remind them ahead of time, 70% of them will not even have your product installed on their laptops. And if you correctly predict and allow for this reality by designing a lecture-style class, then 80% of them will complain that the class was not hands-on. Fan-fraking-tastic.
The Roommates – OK, the Cranky Product Manager needs to know. Is her cheap-ass company the only one that will not spring for single-occupancy hotel rooms at sales meetings? Every year, the CPM ends up rooming with Hilda from Professional Services. Because although Hilda’s snoring can shake paint off the walls, at least she does not watch TV, make loud phone calls, or hog the bathroom for hours at a time. But most importantly, she does not try to engage the CPM in conversation of any kind.