GM Shuffles Sales And Marketing Management

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
gm shuffles sales and marketing management

Shortly after emerging from bankruptcy last July, when GM’s sales were still showing few signs of recovery, then-Sales and Marketing boss Mark LaNeve had his marketing responsibilities stripped about a week before monthly sales came out. In a matter of months, LaNeve was out the door. Sales and marketing were rolled together again when Susan Docherty took over for LaNeve, but over the weekend it was once again stripped away, in one of the first signs that Docherty’s star is no longer rising at GM. And lets go ahead and start assuming that February sales must be looking fairly grim, because the only real explanation given to Automotive News [sub] is that

The shakeup shows that Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre is impatient to boost sales and for consumers to appreciate what he believes is the high quality of GM vehicles. When he became chief executive in December, Whitacre said his sales and marketing team would need to show results quickly.

The perception gap claims another victim! But Docherty’s downgrade is Mark Reuss’s gain. The former Holden boss, now GM’s President of North American operations, will assume the sales responsibilities, leaving Docherty time to focus on the marketing side and polish up her resumé.

Indeed, the only evidence that the S&M split doesn’t mean Docherty is on her way out is that the same division of labor is being repeated across the executive ranks. Because if you can’t pay your execs enough, hiring twice as many can’t be a bad idea. You know, unless bloated management bureaucracies are a long-standing weakness for your company. In any case,

GM will create a divisional reporting structure that separates sales and marketing. Chevrolet, Cadillac and Buick-GMC will each have a marketing boss, reporting to Docherty, and a sales leader, reporting to Reuss, said the sources, who declined to be identified. The division chiefs now handle both functions.

Though the anonymous GM sources won’t say who will be stepping in to head the new extra position at each brand, they will confirm that doubling the number of top executives in S&M is a wildly efficient way of improving things. “This takes a layer out of the system,” they tell AN [sub], with no trace of irony. Because taking one job and turning it into two jobs is a reduction in bureaucracy.Since Whitacre took over at GM, the executives have been shuffled and reshuffled so regularly, it’s surprising that they know their own job descriptions. Though it’s heartening to see Docherty, one of the few remaining Fritz Henderson loyalists, sliding her way towards a long overdue kiss-off, dividing sales and marketing is a good way to spread the responsibility around, and prevent anyone from taking too much accountability. Which is probably the price of paying your execs “way, way, way ” below market. Not to mention, a fantastic way to return GM to its bad, old management habits.
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4 of 27 comments
  • Ricky Spanish Ricky Spanish on Mar 01, 2010

    Chevrolet, Cadillac and Buick-GMC will each have a marketing boss lets read that again Chevrolet, Cadillac and Buick-GMC will each have a marketing boss Buick-GMC, under one entity - because Buicks and GMCs have so much in common? What the hell is wrong with these people??

    • See 1 previous
    • Rob Finfrock Rob Finfrock on Mar 01, 2010

      Remember, Gov't Motors hasn't managed to rid itself of ol' Fritzie just yet! I can't wait to see the February sales figures... if they're as bad as postulated about in the article (and there's no reason to doubt that) then it makes the January numbers look all the more suspect.

  • DetroitsaRiot DetroitsaRiot on Mar 02, 2010

    looks like a Dr. Strangelove remake at Gov't Motors these days. Ed will be good in reprising the Slim Pickens role riding the bomb and waving his cowboy hat into oblivion....("YEE_HAH!")

  • Scott Should be the GRrrr Corolla.Just saying....
  • Crtfour If I could afford and was in the market for something like this, I'd be one of the ones to just go get a Range Rover instead (and possibly have money left over?) instead of a union assembled GM vehicle. But it's cool that something like this exists in this day and age.
  • Analoggrotto Such an awesome vehicle to hire remove the third row , fold the second row, hire a driver and have a 4 some w/ Mary Barra, Hilary Clinton and Michelle Obama at 165 mph around Talladega. And that would be my idea of Wrenched Excess: Caligula 2023.
  • IH_Fever Cue the "it's not what I want, therefore you don't NEED it" crowd...
  • Tassos Nobody with any GOOD TASTE would either need OR WANT such a RIDICULOUS breadvan on stilts. Especially the laughable "V" version.