Difficult economic times can hit salesfolk hard. As their pipeline shrinks, so can the morale of sales reps. What can companies do to keep pipelines full and salespersons enthusiastic in tough times like these? Author, sales consultant, speaker, and CEO of Sales Architects, Lee Salz, offers some words of wisdom for businesses and the salespeople who keep them strong.
B-S: When the pipeline’s flow turns into more of a trickle, what’s the best advice you can give for incenting customers and capturing new leads?
LS: When the economy tightens, it is critical that companies have a very specific process for their sales organization to follow. When things are grand, process is forgotten as revenue just comes in the door. However, now it is time to go back to basics. Review your profile of your ideal client. Has it changed? Ensure the sales organization understands the profile. Put in place behavioral metrics to ensure that the team has the right activity level to build out the pipeline. Don’t buy into the economy as an excuse for buyers not buying. Remember, yesterday they didn’t buy because it was too small, too big; too yellow, too red; too hard, too soft. There is always a reason why you can’t sell. As a salesperson, your job is to overcome that.
B-S: How can business leaders most effectively train their salespeople to deal with potential customers who are afraid to purchase due to budget constraints?
LS: Most sales managers got their seat at the management table because they had great sales skills. This is the time for the sales manager to roll up their sleeves and train their team on the techniques that made them successful. They can supplement the teachings with articles as there is an ocean of free content on the web.
B-S: Salespersons who work on commission will likely be disheartened when business slows due to the tough economy. What should a smart business owner do?
LS: Communicate! Rumors may circulate about troubled times for the company, its clients, and employees. Don’t let the rumors get in the way of what needs to be done. The salespeople should receive clear communication on direction and activity. The company needs to ensure that their plan is acted upon regardless of circumstances. If Sales was such an easy profession, salespeople would not be compensated as well as they are.
B-S: What other advice can you offer to businesses who aim to stay strong and keep their salesforce empowered during difficult times?
LS: Just like I said before, if you believe the economy is in a sorry state, it is. Good luck selling if you buy into that perception. A tight economy means that you, as a salesperson simply need to work harder. Activity levels need to increase, but so does skill. Invest in developing your skill set and the skill set of your salespeople.