Good News About the Economy Positively Impacts the Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 @ 22:03 PM

I often get to see things six to twelve months before they happen.  When manufacturing placed projects and orders on hold as they did last October, it's easy to predict that it will trickle down and impact everyone else over the next six months. 

The word from clients so far this week is that manufacturers are taking projects off of hold and releasing money - even in the automotive industry!  That too will trickle down and impact everyone else over the next six months.

Today I also heard from a client whose house sold in just one day.

Housing and automotive - positive signs from both camps - truly good news for everyone.

It makes your salespeople feel better, it gives them hope, and in turn it makes them work with more confidence.  When they are out there giving it their all, not letting the resistance get to them. following the sales process, using appropriate strategies and tactics, not accepting the first stall, put-off, objection or rejection that comes their way, you have a much better chance that your struggling sales force will generate some much needed revenue.

Haven't heard any good signs in your own industry yet?  Make some calls and talk with some people until you find even one example.  Then spread the good word to all of your salespeople and let them in on the win - even if it wasn't a win for your own company.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Management, Salesforce, Sales Force, declining sales, objections, increasing sales, economic crisis, sales calls, sales behaviors, recession, Economy, declining revenue

The Sales Force with Over Achievers That Don't

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 25, 2009 @ 22:03 PM

Huh?

That's right. Today I heard about a CEO who told one of my colleagues that all of his salespeople over achieve.  In the same phone conversation he mentioned that sales are down 20%.  Can you imagine where sales would be if his salespeople under achieved?  

I think that many CEO's are in a time warp.

Despite the struggles of their sales force in this economy, they still view the sales force as they remember them when times were good. 

The problem with this is that even the good times did not accurately define these salespeople.  Salespeople who succeed when times are good but struggle when times get tough are not over achievers.  They are mediocre salespeople who simply don't get in their own way.  Over achievers find ways to succeed in all conditions, good and bad.

I think that many CEO's are in denial.

Despite the struggles of their sales force, they continue to look at the pipeline and say to themselves, we'll be okay as soon as these deals close.  But the deals aren't closing and with each passing day companies are less okay then they were the day before.

I think that many CEO's are scared shitless (the only truly accurate word I could type there).

Because of the struggles of their sales force, they look at the numbers, down 90%, down 75%, down 50%, down 25% and wonder how they can turn it around.  It can be turned around but they have to be proactive, not reactive.  They have to be aggressive, not passive.  They have to work on the right end of the problem - revenue - not just costs.

Truth is, our data shows that only 6% of all salespeople over achieve.  And another 20% can become over achievers.  Who do you want on your sales force and what are you willing to do to develop them or recruit them?

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan


 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, assessments, selling, Management, Sales Force, leadership, over achievement, declining sales, improve sales, assessment, sales candidates, over achieve, Under achievers, hiring salespeople, mediocrity, overachievers, sales increase, Performance, Economy, sales assessments, declining revenue

How to Turn Around Flat or Declining Sales Revenue

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Feb 01, 2009 @ 21:02 PM

I am in the process of reading a New York Times bestseller called 90 Minutes in Heaven.  The first chapter, where Don Piper describes his 90 minutes in heaven, is by far the best part of the book.  Page after page of the rest of the book (so far), details his horrible ordeal, the accident, his years of pain and recovery and his depression.  This section of the book is not that enjoyable.  But today, I came to a passage of about 3 pages that made the drudgery worthwhile.

Don Piper was recounting his days, weeks and months of self-pity, and his refusal to accept help from anyone.  His mentor, an eighty year-old minister, was visiting him one day, and let him have it but good.  I won't go through the trouble of including the word-for-word conversation here but he basically said, "get your act together."  He went on to say, "you must allow others to help you."  And he wouldn't leave until Don agreed.  As Don recalled this encounter, he called it the turning point of his recovery - a miracle!

As I read this section of the book it occurred to me that while none of you are twisted, mangled, broken versions of your former selves, many of you are at the helm of companies with broken sales forces and, like Don, refuse to accept or ask for help.  Your sales force may be no different than it was a year ago, except for the lack of revenue they are producing.  Ask for help.  Accept help.  They may be the same group of people you had at this time last year, except that they are struggling today.  Ask for help. Accept help. They may have the same accounts that they had last year, except that those accounts aren't buying as much. Ask for help.  Accept help. They may be prospecting like they did last year except that the deals in their pipeline have been stalled or delayed and last year's level of prospecting isn't enough to make up for it.  Ask for help.  Accept help.

When revenues are flat or declining, that isn't the time to let pride or ego get in the way. 

John Miller, author of QBQ! - The Question Behind the Question, gets it.   Last week he wrote that cutting training would be as ludicrous as the fire department not being able to respond to an emergency because they cut training and their department wasn't prepared.  He went on to say that for most companies, right now is an emergency!

I don't care how many years your people have been in sales.  They weren't trained to sell in an economic environment like the one we have today.  Retaining accounts is as important as ever, but right now, most companies need their salespeople to bring in new business.  Unfortunately, most of your salespeople weren't trained to hunt and close either, only to manage accounts. So it's a complex situation: 

  • You need your salespeople to hunt and close but they weren't trained to do that;
  • You need them to sell in the worst economy in their lifetimes but they weren't trained to overcome that either;
  • You aren't comfortable asking for help because you think you should be able to solve this problem yourself (these times are challenging even for top experts like me);
  • You don't want to spend any money because - oh yeah - sales are down;
  • If just a couple of those deals on hold would close you'll be OK (hope is not a strategy).
There are some very talented sales develolpment experts that know exactly how to quickly turn around your flat or declining revenue. Ask for help.  Accept help.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, declining sales, improve sales, sales success, sales development, flat revenue, declining revenue

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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