Morale Killer or Career Limiting Move?

17 May

I was sent the two emails below. After reading the first one, I thought, “Wow, what a morale killer for the sales manager to send out that email.”


From: VP WW Sales

To: Global Sales

Cc: Exec Staff

Subject: Q3 Sales Meeting July 11th and 12th – Mark your calendars

Please mark your calendars for our Q3 sales meeting. We will hold it on:

Friday July 11th and

Sat July 12th

You can make arrangements to be here on Thursday, July 10th and fly back on Sunday, July 13th. Please make your reservations at your earliest convenience so that we can get low cost fares.

Details to follow. Stay tuned.


Then I read the second one and thought, “Wow, what a Career Limiting Move by that sales rep.”


From: Field Sales Rep

To: VP WW Sales

Cc: Global Sales, Exec Staff

Subject: Re: Q3 Sales Meeting July 11th and 12th – Mark your calendars

This is not acceptable. The Sales team spends a great deal of time away from family already. To have this meeting scheduled over a summer weekend is insensitive at best.

Please pick alternate dates.


Why do I think the first email is a morale killer? After all, many companies I know in the IT space routinely have dinner meetings and weekend conference calls. Their attitude is, “Hey, we’re great executives, always thinking of the reps. We reserve selling time for them during the workday thus we do all the administrivia stuff after hours or on weekends.”

The second email is a shocker. Yes, tone is often hard to read in an email but I think the tone of this email is pretty clear. The rep doesn’t think much of the idea or the manager and clearly doesn’t care who in upper management knows it. Reply-all is a dangerous thing especially when you reply to an email in anger. Which reminds me of rule #1 of email – never ever write something about someone that you would not tell them to their face.

What do you think?

Who’s to blame here? VP, rep or both?

Is the Sales VP’s email a morale killer? How could they have written it better?

Does the rep need to find a new job quick?

Who needs to attend sensitivity training?


8 Responses to “Morale Killer or Career Limiting Move?”

  1. Kevin Sasser May 17, 2008 at 9:17 pm #

    Im going to tag the SVP with the schmuck label on this one.

    Gen X and Y are especially sensitive to work intruding on personal time. The SVP could have at least acknowledged the personal impact that this would have on his team, Ex. “I know this is vacation season for most of us, however current conditions mandated that we have our sales meeting over a weekend.”

    Secondly, he could have made a pledge to make the meeting as efficient as possible so that the reps were not forced to take the last Sunday flight home.

    Lastly, a “blow softener” could have been some non-monetary compensation such as a nice team dinner, or an extra personal date to compensate.

    While the Rep did not help his career path, he merely was the one with guts to state what the rest of the team was most likely feeling.

  2. Trish Bertuzzi May 18, 2008 at 9:35 am #

    I’m with Kevin. The VP Sales is a schmuck. The funny thing about his communication is that he does no selling. If you are a sales executive and you don’t know that every communication you have with your team is a sales call, you need to start another career!

    Where was the sizzle? What was the “it’s all about you” scenarios? Where was the recognition that they were intruding upon personal time?

    BTW, the “sales call” mentality is especially important when rolling out new compensation plans. If you think that isn’t the biggest sales call of your year, think again. You are playing to a tough crowd and your presentation skills and objection handling statements need to be well thought out.

    Lastly, while admire the rep for being honest, he/she threw themselves under the bus for their peers. Hope it was worth it…

  3. Bob Proia May 18, 2008 at 6:22 pm #

    From my perspective:

    1. The Sales VP’s message to his salesforce regarding this Sales Meeting was less than 60 words in total. When a Sales Executive communicates to a salesforce, they must be smart enough to evangelize the value of an event like this (i.e. New Product introductions, new market strategy, new partnership details, Award Presentations, etc). When you say “Please mark your calendars”, you are not communicating the value of this event to your salesforce. As a result, this Sales Meeting has no perceived value to the reps who are being forced into attending.

    2. I couldn’t imagine a rep saying “this is not acceptable” and “pick alternative dates” to a company event unless the rep is insane or incredibly arrogant (or both). It sounds like these emails are an indication of a much bigger problem at this company – like a lack of leadership or a lack of communication (or both).


  4. Joanne Black May 18, 2008 at 7:01 pm #

    It sounds as if this company holds a sales meeting every quarter, so what’s the big deal? Everyone is being asked to work long hours. That being said, if previous meetings had not been on weekends, then the VP 1) should have given more notice 2) trumpeted the great benefits of being at the meeting.

    If the sales person had a problem, he should have picked up the phone and called the VP. Nothing beats a personal conversation. I agree that email can be misinterpreted and should never be sent when angry. Sounds as if this rep might have other problems with his employer. If he doesn’t want to “play”, then he should look for another job.

  5. The RainMaker Maker May 18, 2008 at 7:59 pm #

    Although the sales manager “appears” to be a crappy communicator, I don’t know enough to say that he is. Are all quarterly sales meetings on the 2nd weekend of the quarter? If so, then he’s just reminding everyone. They should already have it penciled in.

    That being said, “Reply All” isn’t appropriate. If I didn’t want to attend, it’s not appropriate for me to speak for the rest of my peers. Better to reply to the manager, “Won’t be able to make it. Can I get a recording or copies of the ifirmation that will be shared?” If the manager gets support from my peers to the “Reply All” email, I’m a rabblerouser. If he gets several discrete emails re: unavailability, management may seek the cause.

  6. Chris Souza May 19, 2008 at 9:25 am #

    Great topic for discussion, although I agree with the rainmaker. There is not enough information to formulate an opinion.

    The only advice I have is remember to “always” consider once an email is delivered, it can not and will not be retracted. “Never” express yourself in an email intended to create confrontaion without realizing the consequences.

  7. Brian Duke May 19, 2008 at 9:58 am #

    There are a few things here I believe are worth mentioning…

    1) I understand it may be common practice to copy your superiors in communications to sales teams but why not BCC? Does the sales team need to know the executive team is seeing the email? What this looks like to me is that the VP does not feel he/she has the respect of his/her team and feels the need to use the scare tactic of copying the executive team. (I may be reading too much into that, but that has been my experience in the past). Seems like a “Micro-Management” atmosphere to me…

    2) I agree with everyone else who asked if this is a quarterly meeting. If it is, then the rep should have been expecting it. If it isn’t, then there needs to be some consideration on the part of management.

    3) I admire the rep’s dedication to his/her family but he/she went about his/her response entirely the wrong way. In my opinion, “Reply-All” is overused entirely too much these days and should be avoided. Couldn’t he/she have just called the VP?

    There are a lot of “ifs” with this string of emails so it is hard to form a complete opinion. However I feel a lot of issues with email communication these days is that people often write as if they were speaking to the person, often forgetting there is no body language, eye winks, laughing, etc. It is only natural to take offense to the “tone” of an email because you read it with respect to how you feel about the person sending it. If you have a negative opinion of that person or feel they have a negative opinion about you, you will find offense 9 times out of 10 in something they’ve written. I could be wrong, but that has been my experience.


  1. Inquisix - Selling by Referrals » Blog Archive » Morale Killer or Career Limiting Move? Part Two - June 1, 2008

    […] comments for my original post of “Morale Killer or Career Limiting Move” were the highest to date. The post must have struck a nerve with others, as it did for me. […]

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