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Do salesmen/Upper management need to better understand their products?


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Do salesmen/Upper management need to better understand their products?
Topic: Arts 12:40 pm EDT, May 28, 2004

This is a very interesting question my Dad and I have debated a lot.

My Dad has always told me, that salesmen, and more importantly, upper management, doesn't need to have any deep or extensive understanding of their products. He has told me you can abstract the specifics of the product out of the equations, and there are standard ways you run the business (ie ways to promotion, ways to make deals, methods streamlining production, ratios of research dollars vs spending dollar, etc), that work regardless of the product, or at least should serve as a very important guideline.

Personally, this is something I completely disagree with, but I've been searched in vain to explain to Dad why. Best I could do is point out that Bill Gates has extensive knowledge of not only the market he was in, but also its advances. Bill Gates has made more money than any other CEO. Thus, I concluded to Dad, this was an example of my idea being correct.

However this example doesn't really help me put into words *why* I felt my theory was correct. Instead, all Dad see's is a 23 year old guy in a T-shirt telling him things counter to 30+ years of experience has taught him.

I feel this interview of David Crosby, which my Dad can relate to, does an excellent job showing how upper management not have better knowledge of their product can run a business into the ground.

] =It actually happened that way?
] Yes. The people who run record companies now wouldn't
] know a song if it flew up their nose and died. They
] haven't a clue, and they don't care. You tell them that,
] and they go, "Yeah? So, your point is?" Because they
] don't give a s---. They don't care. They're actually sort
] of proud that they don't care.
] Look at it this way. A couple of years ago, somewhere
] between a fourth and a third of the record business was
] owned by a whiskey company, who shall remain nameless,
] but were notably inept at running a record company. And
] they sold it to a French water company, who shall also
] remain nameless, but knew even less. Now, those guys
] haven't a clue! [laughter] They haven't a clue. And they
] don't care about having a clue. They are trying to run it
] as if they're selling widgets, plastic-wrapped widgets
] that they can sell more of. And they want easily
] definable, easily accessible, easily creatable,
] controllable product that has a built-in die-out, so that
] they can create some more.
] By that, I mean, "Get me a lead singer. He's got sort of
] an androgynous blonde hair, very pretty. We need a guitar
] player, sort of hatchet-faced, wears a hat, plays very
] fast, very dramatic. He must be very dramatic. Get me a
] pound of bass player, pound of drummer. I don't think he
] needs keyboards; I think we look good. And we'll call
] them the Bosco Bombers! No. The Bad Dogs, that's good! I
] like that!" And then you sell it. You sell the hell out
] of it. You spend $500,000 on record promoting, and they
] make a lot more.
] But they're making little cardboard cutouts. They hire a
] producer, they hire writers, and the people that they put
] out in these little boy bands. And in the current stuff
] now, they don't even bother getting people to play. Don't
] bother with that guitar player, bass player, drummer --
] nonsense. That's all nonsense to them. Got to look cute,
] have a flat tummy, and be controllable. And then they put
] you in these little cardboard cutout bands.
] The people in those bands can't write, play, or sing.
] They make them sound good with pro-tools, because if they
] sing out of tune, they can just say, "Oh, punch a button.
] Put it in tune." Which is very frustrating to people like
] me, who spent, you know, 30, 40 years learning how to
] sing in tune in the first place. It is partly their own,
] you know, greed and, and lack of taste, but it's also
] partly a condition that's endemic in the country.
] The current ethos in the United States of America is all
] to do with surface and nothing to do with substance. It
] doesn't matter that Britney Spears has nothing to say and
] is about as deep as a birdbath. It matters that she has
] cute tits, and that's all that matters. She doesn't sing
] in concert; none of them do. Those are samples. Push a
] button, out comes the vocal. Do you ever notice, when
] you're listening to them in a live concert -- any of
] them, Janet Jackson, any of the rest of them -- that
] they're not breathing heavy? Even though they're dancing
] like crazy. That's because you're not hearing what
] they're singing. You're hearing a tape.
] =How did we get here?
] Greed. Greed, simple a thing.

Do salesmen/Upper management need to better understand their products?

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