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French Version

Managing Change - When Venus is in the Office Who is the Boss?

When Miss Beautiful and Sexy entered the office all male heads, ages 9 to 99, began tracking her like TV cameras, eyes zoomed in, brains switched off, hormone levels rising. She was promptly admitted to the Boss's office.

He shook her hand warmly and sat down quickly.

Now, the scene was set for business. The telephone rang. The Boss asked his secretary to hold all calls until this important meeting had ended.

Boss: Madame...?
Suzette: Non, Demoiselle, Demoiselle Suzette.
Boss: Keefe feini saadik Demoiselle? (How can I help you miss?)
Suzette: I am from Le Business Magazine.
Boss: Yes?
Suzette: Our magazine is very important and all the big businesses receive it regularly. You will surely want to place a full-page, color ad with us.
Boss: Well of course, I will consider this carefully. How much will a full-color page cost?
Suzette: Only $2,500.
Boss: What other options do you have? Let's see...

After intensive negotiation, the Boss agrees to place a $25, black and white classified ad in order to test out the efficiency of the magazine. In addition to this, the Boss agrees to meet with Suzette on a weekly basis to monitor results and make preparations for a comprehensive, center-spread, full-color advertising campaign in her magazine.

After several meetings, Suzette and the Boss got to know a lot about each others businesses. It also became evident that Suzette's magazine was not the best place for the Boss to invest his advertising dollars. Not wishing to upset the young lady, the Boss invited her to lunch and gently broke the news that he could not launch the big advertising campaign they had been dreaming of. The Boss, however, made it clear that he valued Suzette's astute advice and would like to keep up a dialogue with her.

A happy ending? Maybe, but for whom? Who were the winners, the losers, and the abusers? All the players in this game were winners, losers, and abusers at one and the same time. The difference lies only in the relative proportions of the three factors for the Boss, the Girl, and the Magazine. Let us do a little reckoning here to see what the final scores look like:

Win Lose Abuse Individual Totals
Boss 30 % 35 % 35 % 100 %
Girl 65 % 10 % 25 % 100 %
Magazine 5 % 70 % 25 % 100 %
Totals 100 % 115 % 85 % 300 %

You may or may not agree with this analysis, but allow me to share the reasoning behind it with you:

The girl won most because she collected a basic salary, established what may have looked like a promising account in the eyes of her employer and built up a relationship with the Boss from which she may extract direct personal gains.

The Magazine lost most: the direct cost of carrying an employee who is not generating significant business for the company; opportunity loss resulting from employment hours wasted on a false account, and most important, risking the label of 'cheap and unprofessional.'

Although all the players are guilty of exploiting their positions in one way or the other, the Boss in this scenario gets the highest score for abuse.

He uses his position and his office hours to act out a 'hidden agenda' which will not advance his business interests, but yield personal gains only.

This type of seduction-selling is the oldest trick in the book, and if we believe there is an element of truth in the stereotypes created by the entertainment industry, it is a 'trick' to which the Middle East is particularly susceptible.

Can we, however, afford to prove the stereotype correct?

And more importantly, is this type of approach good enough to confront the challenges of global competition?

Companies that will survive into the next decade, will be those who understand that sales have to be irrevocably linked to marketing research; and that the resulting; marketing strategy will be as effective as the reliability of the information base on which it is built.

The twenty-first century will be century of the greatest information revolution since the invention of the printing press. Market research information is already being used to segment markets more finely than ever before and even provide for one-to-one tailoring of products and services.

Those who fail to understand the importance of these realities are playing Russian Roulette with the survival of their companies.

The owners of information data banks who know how to manage and use the information at their disposal will be the power-brokers of the future.

Companies who take these realities seriously, refocus their businesses on solid information about customer needs will survive and prosper. They will achieve their goals by building a professional sales force that understands that its role is to consult for clients and respond to needs by providing the most effective solutions to client problems. These companies will be the winners and the survivors in the long term.

After all, would you buy a product or service you didn't need? And in the event that you were seduced into doing so, how much repeat business could the company who did that to you hope for.

Long-term survival for any company is based on steady recurrent earnings and those are the direct consequence of necessary, reliable, professional and trustworthy products or services.

If our companies embody those values, then it is the competence of the salespersons that is important, and not their gender.

Beirut,12 03 2002
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