Radio Sales Today

RAB Sales Tips

What's Wrong with Management?

A Japanese company and an American company decided to have a canoe race on the St. Lawrence River. Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.

On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile. The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat.

A team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action. Their conclusion was the Japanese had eight people rowing and one person steering, while the American team had eight people steering and one person rowing. So, American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion.

They advised that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

To prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team’s management structure was totally reorganized to four steering supervisors, three area steering superintendents and one assistant superintendent steering manager. They also implemented a new performance system that would give the one person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder.

It was called the “Rowing Team Quality First Program”, with meetings, dinners and free pens to the rower. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses.

The next year, the Japanese won by two miles. Humiliated, the American management laid off the rowers for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles and cancelled all capital investments in new equipment. The money saved was distributed to senior executives as bonuses and next year’s racing team was outsourced to China.

I found that story on a website called tickld, in their section called “funny.” Sadly, what’s funny about it is that we all can relate. How you manage and coach your team clearly has a significant impact on their development.

We think of people like Vince Lombardi as coaching giants. But YOU can become a coaching giant to every member of your sales team. Unlock your sales team’s potential by doing more coaching than training. We shared the differences last week.

It’s annual review time, we encourage you to start with the advice of legendary sales trainer Norm Goldsmith who said: “You can’t influence someone’s thinking until you know what they’re thinking.”

As you go through the numbers past and future, we encourage you to take some time to ask your team what they are thinking. It’s been a tough year, hearing how they handled the stress, the challenges and the setbacks could open a whole new level of performance.

Jeff Schmidt is SVP-Professional Development at the Radio Advertising Bureau. You can reach Jeff at or follow him on social media: Twitter, LinkedIn.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB