Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Eon Ofgem - any lessons for Professional Selling and Sales Management ?

Marketing Week's Sebastian Joseph suggests  that  E.On's brand reputation is at risk after admitting its efforts to reset customers relations have been hampered received a record £12 million fine from Ofgem for mis-selling its energy tariffs.

Quite rightly the vulnerable customers are to be compensated as a result of the investigation by regulator Ofgem.

(I am sure there are also many good sales people trying to do their best for their customers at E.On whether in house or subcontracted agents . The company has a Sales Improvement Plan underway)

Eon's logo is currently displayed on the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management's (ISMM) web page of  corporate members and partners. 

The ISMM states the Institute " are committed to increasing the professionalism and ethical standards of the sales profession.”

Should any fellow trainers, sales directors , managers or  supervisors  or for that matter members of the ISMM care to scroll around the detail of the Ofgem report ( link at end of  this post) they  might  detect considerable shortcomings exposed. 

Ofgem in summary said that E.On had opportunities to improve its sales practises long before 2013, but its response was inadequate. Ofgem's criticisms included:-

  • failed to train and monitor its own staff, as well as staff employed by agencies
  • provided incorrect information to customers
  • failed in its management arrangements
  • paid insufficient attention to energy sales rules
  • had poor auditing results
  • did not always give the key terms of a contract before it was signed

But as many undertake finger pointing at E.On , it is worth remembering that as we point a finger at someone it is worth remembering three face back at us !

Sales management can better meet buyer needs and improve sales productivity by creating a culture of sales coaching, providing the processes and resources to help sales managers coach their salespeople and holds these managers accountable for coaching initiatives.


A study into IT sector provided insight into industry best practises, sales manager coaching frameworks, and detailed practitioner case studies to help sales and sales operations executives further develop their sales managers and improve sales productivity.

IDC Sales and Marketing Sales Advisory Service
The Sales Advisory Service Blog

The IDC Sales Advisory Service publishes through three research categories, annually.
Sales Benchmarks for Budgeting and Planning research

  1. sales revenue,
  2. expense,
  3. and productivity benchmarks based on the leading vendors across the IT industry.

Sales Management and Operations Best Practises consist of business cases and Best Practises to enhance organisational effectiveness, sales operations, and solution selling strategies and sales operations. Sales and Industry Insights investigate specific, targeted issues that IT Sales executives are facing

Data from TACK research on  face to face field accompaniment  

.IDC 2010 Sales productivity study of 2,663 sales organisations

Only 22% of sales coached their salespeople !

67% of sales organisations performing below expectations reported that their sales managers did not coach at all.

Ian Segail in Winning Edge Magazine suggested ten reasons why managers don't coach

1. No process for coaching
2. Have no formal skills in coaching
3. Don't see the value of coaching
4. Not held accountable for changing the behaviour to impact on results
5. Coaching not a formal part of the job
6. It is not measured by the board -so it's not done
7. Never had good coaching themselves and don't believe in it
8. They are not currently coached or mentored themselves
9. Fear of engagement with sales team members with years of experience
10. Can't find the time

Misplaced  Confidence in the numbers:

"The sales numbers are great, so everything must be hunky dory."

Does such thinking remind us of the misplaced confidence we saw in the Baring -Leeson affair before the disaster struck ?

Perhaps one of the unintended consequences on over-reliance 'digitised' sales turnover statistics is the illusion that sales can be managed entirely by remote control . 

Merely collecting data  from Sales process software, ticking the boxes of quality standards  and basking in good turnover metrics are not enough. A manager needs to get out of the office and see the reality.

Time to get out of  the office?

Time to check whether the numbers reflect the WHOLE story?

Time to resurrect SMBWA - Sales Management By Walking About.?

Related link

 Ofgem notice on Eon in May 2014

Breaches for both Telesales and Marketing were from June 2010 – December 2013. You can read the penalty notice on the investigations section of Ofgem’s website go to the link above and scroll down to penalty notice.

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