Righteousness and expertise – sales and compliance?

The righteous and expert do not always make the most influential of colleagues, particularly when they are trying to influence senior colleagues who have made their careers by their ability to deliver market beating sales volumes.   The BBC’s ‘The Choice’ interview, (03/11/09), with HBOS’ whistle blowing, ex Risk Manager Paul Moore made fascinating listening.  The obvious business issues: the culture clash between sales and compliance in the business and the impact that an intelligent technical expert can have on an organisation. 

The interview reveals how the HBOS board realised it had a significant problem and how it then failed to adequately deal with it.  Also remarkable in the interview was the level of ‘principal’ expressed by Paul Moore.  So what would you do when informed by the Risk Management department that your sales strategy – upon which you had worked so hard and long and upon which the past recent success of the business had been based – was unethical and non-compliant?  Fear takes many forms including denial and anger.  ‘Buying off’ the messenger was probably the most comfortable solution – providing the relief of quick and apparently decisive action.

Sales is, in many ways, the Cinderella of business, misunderstood and short sold as easier than it really is.  Numbers driven sales teams, remunerated on the short term may give managers relief from apparent uncertainty – but the reality is that to be sustainable a business requires sales practices based on the risk of the product being sold.  That risk is of course made concrete when the deal is signed – retrofitting never really works just adding cost and complication.   This in practice means a higher cost of sales, with a longer calendar pipeline, which is a difficult sell.  And the Sales Director/Manager job is likely to go to the candidate who says ‘yes’, rather than the one who says ‘yes, and……’.

Ø  ¨ How whole business is your approach to risk management?

Ø  ¨ Does your organisation take undue comfort from delegating key responsibilities to technical experts?

Ø  ¨ Do your Risk Managers rely on their expertise or relationship with regulators to influence your business?


Next Steps? :

Talk to us, in confidence and without obligation about building management competence and influencing skills especially in technical experts 

To hear the interview go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00nk2c2  it is available for 7 days after broadcast.

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