For years now, Harvard Business Review and its Blog on hbr.com have been accepting articles on sales that are usually laugh-out-loud wrong. The information is sometimes old and outdated, usually not routed in science, and sometimes simply stupid. While they have always published a great magazine, the information on selling regularly fails to meet our expectations.
My issue with HBR is not one of sour grapes. I have plenty of subscribers and followers that read my science of selling and opinion pieces. My concern is that because it's HBR, readers accept that which is written on those pages as gospel. "It can't be wrong!"
Why do they allow these articles to see the light of day?
There are several possible reasons for this:
- Their editors don't know enough about selling so they lack the knowledge to say, "Sorry Charlie."
- They typically don't accept articles from authors without a PHD after their name so that generally rules out submissions from experts like me
- Those with a PHD after their names are often teaching in academia - a wonderful source of real world experience and data. Most of their data comes from surveys and the real world experience often comes from industrial companies who are still in the analog age.
- Their model is to publish work from university professors because it appears more credible.
I don't post a rebuttal every time an article like that appears, but when it flies in the face of what we know to be true I can't help myself.
The most recent example of Harvard Business Review and sales stupidity came earlier this month when they ran an article on social selling being the solution to prevent salespeople from becoming obsolete. I wrote this article on LinkedIn bring it to light and differentiate fact from fiction.
But this is only the most recent example. There have been 13 other articles that I have written to correct their false information, as well as this white paper that you can download for free.
So what do you think? Why does HBR consistently publish bad information when it comes to sales?