The paperclips didn't need a sales pitch. Neither do your clients.


Economic Uncertainty... Or Excuse Making?

by GSchulz 21. March 2012 18:40
Are you still nervous about the economy?

Are the upcoming elections causing you to tighten the ole’ belt?

Have you come to the conclusion that we are all in the dark about when it will actually be over?

This is not a time for anxiety, but a time to be realistic and acknowledge that tough times lay ahead. Adjustments have to be made in your sales team and in the way they approach sales. If you don’t do it now, the competition certainly will. During the past, in our economic “high,” I’m sure your sales team and numbers grew exponentially. But seeing as though your longer term salespeople had been used to sales falling in their lap, have they fully adjusted to the new reality or are they still using the economy as an excuse for not making those adjustments? With the recession still lingering, what should we expect from our “order takers” of the past? Probably not a whole bunch!

Right now, the weak part of your company is probably still your sales team. Companies are becoming aggravated very quickly when their salespeople aren’t selling for reasons you think are out of their control.  Sales people, too, are getting discouraged when they don’t close sales, not knowing that their sales in the previous bull market were simply coming to them with little to no work involved. A lot of companies wait until they’re desperate, then layoffs and cost cutting will start. The smart companies know that they should evaluate their sales force now, finding out who really has effective selling skills to utilize in the slump that we’re about to face.

When assessing your team, remember to ask yourself the following questions:

What are the necessary elements for selling in this economy?
Who has these elements?
Who does not have these skills and should we replace them?
Who should we replace them with?

Don’t fall victim your salesperson’s beliefs that “people are spending less” and “it’s an election year.”  Excuses, excuses, excuses!

Don’t believe that just because they’ve done well in the past, they may be right. If they’re not strong enough to make it through tough times, they probably don’t belong on your team! You must ask yourself, “have they really been selling or were they just order takers that got lucky?” If you’re not sure, you have to evaluate their skills! Go on a sales call with them and see how they do in the “real world.” Another option is having them take an assessment that shows the skills they truly have… And the ones they don’t. Masked weaknesses show themselves when you least expect it.

Hold your ground and act as though the economy is flourishing! I know you think I’m crazy, but hear me out. If you remember that the economy is cyclical, you won’t fall prey to the negative thoughts about our current situation. When things are bad, nothing should change. Then you’re not falling into a slump, but simply continuing to work hard until things come back around. (Which they always do!) If you turn “fat and happy,” you’ll never make it through. Neither our mortgage lender, our bank, nor the power company will accept the excuse of the economy for non-payment. Why should we? Should we make some adjustments? Possibly, but now the real sales professionals will shine through the excuse makers. You will see real creativity and out of the box thinking like never before. Now you will really see what separates the men... well, you know the cliché.

Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business SELLutions in West Palm Beach, FL. She is the author of "To Sell is Not to Sell" and a columnist for business journals around the country. Greta does corporate training for Fortune 1000 companies and she has an on-line training course for entrepreneurs.

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