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I had a chat with a client yesterday about sales on his company website. Looking at sales figures I noted that it's been pretty steady and strong, but there seems to have been a dip the end of October through now.
"Oh, that happens every year -- our customers know we're going to have a Black Friday sale so they stop buying until Thanksgiving." He talked about how successful the sale is every year, until I pointed out that November isn't really any better month than any other month.
"You gotta look at the sale on it's own -- those are great numbers."
I don't care if you're lying to your boss or yourself, when you have a sale and then tout your successes as a shrewd marketer, you can't just take the numbers out of context. It's dishonest to take credit for the sale and not take the blame for the slowdown preceding the sale.
If he had done nothing, the sales would have evened out, yet you know that 4th Quarter Powerpoint presentation is going to have a slide showing the success of his brilliant Black Friday sales event.
And here's why it bugged me so much -- there has been a huge segment of corporate management that has floated along for years playing these kind of games and touting their successes when the ball ends up exactly where it would have no matter what the manager did.
You can do that when the economy is strong and the ball lands in a pile of money no matter what you do, but times have changed and there aren't as many piles of money to stumble into.
I don't know what's going to happen in the long run, but I can tell you that I've seen a lot of these middle managers out of work and scratching their heads trying to figure out why they can't seem to make money anymore.
It's because they weren't making money in the first place.