....determine whether an AFL side that played 75 games over a three year period and won more of them than any other side in the history of the game is now "great" rather than "good"? If you read the Melbourne press or had to listen to the various on air and on screen commentators then you would believe that is the situation.....if you are a lifetime follower of what is exciting, compelling and satisfying about any game then you wouldn't give a toss....however, I imagine, that you would, like me if you had watched as many Geelong games as I have, be glad that Geelong won probably the ugliest game they have played over the past three years yesterday than lost it.....simply because it was important to them and their coach. Although conforming to Nick Hornby's protagonist's characteristics in Fever Pitch - Geelong's win yesterday hasn't, and couldn't, affect any other aspect of my life or my activities - perhaps that's merely a sign of old age.
I didn't attend the Grand Final this year for a variety of reasons. However I was offered 'free tickets' by several 'suppliers' which given the cost of 'premium packages' were very generous offers and I really appreciated being regarded as 'important enough' to merit the consideration. However it does strike me that such 'hospitality' offers over the years are almost solely based on attending important sporting events - grand finals in Sydney and Melbourne, Wallabies games, Major Tennis events, Melbourne Formula 1 and other key events. I don't recall getting offers for the Australian Ballet, Opera or even the theatre. It seems sport and selling are inextricably linked and that it is assumed that all Australian sales people and all decision makers are overwhelmingly interested in it.
There are many metaphors linking 'sport' to 'business' used by a range of stupid people even today. Back in the 1960s (my earliest association with sales operations in corporate businesses - NCR and IBM) sales/business analogies were beginning to 'intrude' in to sales meetings and annual sales 'conferences' - although the pernicious endlessly (and in my opinion totally inapposite) "team" references were still a decade or so away from infesting 'marketing speak'. Over the years I have formed the opinion that so much sports 'jargon' and analogy was/is because the assumption is that sales forces are comprised largely (back in the 1960s - entirely) of young(ish) males and the assumption was that sport dominated young male interest to the exclusion of everything else other than sex which is hard to fit into a selling context. I could be wrong but the love of 'marketing' people for sporting themes in every presentation has to have some explanation.
I thought of this yesterday after the game as various 'tribal' views were being expressed by various people who should know better and, as I was strangely not feeling the same, or even similar, enthusiasms my mind drifted to other thoughts. Selling/business is very much all about winning - not because it is something that is good to do but because if you don't sell (win) then you personally as a sales person don't have a job and if your personal lack of success is shared by other sales people within your organisation then the company goes out of business. Way back in my early days in sales at IBM,Vince Lombardi, the then famous coach of the then Green Bay Packers, had one of his coaching aphorisms taken over by an increasing number of silly "sales coaches". The phrase was "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing". To an extent this is true in sales where only results count and no-one appreciates a 'good effort' - least of all the unlucky sales person who doesn't get the sale. Though this particular phrase was given a long run credited to Lombardi it wasn't original or even the best phrase with Bill Shankley's less well known statements being the definitive statements on football's and winning's importance in the scheme of things:
"Football isn't a matter of life and death - it's much more important than that"
"If you are first you are first - if you are second you are nothing"
I suppose on the assumption that all young(ish) males are really interested in sport and have some sort of 'relationship' with either following or playing for a team then it is valid to assume they will see the relationships - but I would have thought that you would also have to be pretty stupid if your income depended on your sales results that you would have needed that pointed out to you. However for as long as I have been part of or associated with sales results there has always been some idiot using sporting analogies. Perhaps I have been associating with truly stupid people all my life and I just never noticed? Personally I don't think that's true. Whatever the case may or may not be I have a different problem to address and have had it for quite a while - and I am pretty sure, based on my personal experiences as a 'buyer' that other companies have the same problem. What happens when a significant percentage of your sales force are 'girls/young(ish) females'? Do young(ish) females obsess about/relate to sport the way young(ish) males are assumed to do?
I would value any thoughts anyone might have on 'motivating' a sales force that is not predominantly comprised of young(ish) males.
This social experiment that was carried out a few years ago is perhaps a good indication of why sports and not the arts are considered prizes to many http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html I'm guessing a know sports star in the same spot making an appearance may have got a totally different response