Mike Grimaldi, a rising, 47-year-old insider at General Motors, is about to face the question: Is GM's disastrous experience with a new sales and ordering system due to individual people, or to the system itself?
Good luck, Mike.
Grimaldi has been rushed into the post of general manager of field sales, service and parts. And at GM, there is no sales, service and parts except in the field. Everything is regional.
That's part of North American President Ron Zarrella's sweeping reorganization of sales and marketing. Since Jan. 1, that reorganization has been largely responsible for a drop of two more points of year-to-date market share at the shrinking American automaker.
What's wrong? To name a few things: Too often, dealers can't order the vehicles they want; they can't even order sold vehicles; GM's computers configure vehicle models and options into vehicles that dealers can't sell; regional incentives are confusing and badly communicated; now that GM has taken over the advertising formerly done by dealer ad associations, the local dealers often don't even know what the factory is telling the customer; and since divisions have become just small, marketing organizations, the marketing often doesn't relate to the sales organization.
Zarrella's sweeping reorganization recognized flaws of the old system (redundant divisional field organizations; conflicting messages from dealer ad associations) and FIXED THEM NOW! But it was a reorganization that came from GM people talking to each other, not to their dealers or customers. It was logical and perfect, and it doesn't work.
If Mike Grimaldi makes minor tweaks, GM's dealers will stay angry, and GM will continue to lose market share. The GM system needs rethinking. And this time, GM executives should listen to their other stakeholders, not just to each other in a conference room.