"Coffee is for closers." So goes one of the most famous lines from Glengarry Glen Ross, the 1992 film that follows a group of sad-sack, Chicago real-estate salesmen as they're pushed to the breaking point, harassed in the most vicious, degrading language possible to close their deals or lose their jobs.
Stealing a move from that playbook, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) recently told its team of stock portfolio managers to "attend at least 30 meetings a month with clients, or else."
ABC: Always Be Closing
Thirty meetings a month averages out to more than a meeting a day. According to Bloomberg, which broke the story, this aggressive quota has angered the 500-member sales force. Some are already cooking their meeting logs in an effort to meet what they feel is an unreasonable demand.
B of A is also reportedly requiring salespeople assigned to hedge funds to meet with traders there 20 times per month -- another requirement considered unreasonable, since traders generally remained glued to their desks throughout the day, typically not breaking for lunch meetings.
Third prize is, you're fired
Having spent time in outside sales, I can tell you that there's something to be said for quotas: They give some needed structure to what can otherwise be an uncomfortably directionless job. And even in this age of email and Skype, there's still something to be said for getting in front of the people you're trying to sell something to.
But this move by B of A to force its equity sales team to fulfill an aggressive client meeting quota seems less like a return to the basics than a return to the stone age. If this sort of thing is happening at JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) or Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), arguably the smartest shops on the investment-bank block, the news hasn't filtered out. As such, I'm filing this move by B of A under "working harder, not smarter."
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Fool contributor John Grgurich owns no shares of any of the companies mentioned in this column. Follow John's dispatches from the bleeding edge of capitalism on Twitter, @TMFGrgurich. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Goldman Sachs. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a delightful disclosure policy.