How to Prepare for the Coming Sales Team Super Storm

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Sep 22, 2021 @ 16:09 PM

LittlePawz - Freak summer snowstorm blanketing red maples

What would you do if, in the middle of summer, a big box store said you would really need a snowblower in preparation for the summer snowstorms we were about to get?  Crazy, right?

What if Staples sent out a promo to buy all the printer paper you can in preparation for a printing explosion as we move away from digital?  Wouldn't that be nuts?

What if a professional sports team reached out to your really good 12-year-old and offered them a professional contract?  Is that even possible?

So when a promotion for an upcoming webinar appeared in my Twitter feed last week I was equally astounded by the lack of anticipatory awareness of the sales training firm and online publication promoting it.  It said:

My first reaction was that this must have been something from 2016 - right before the boom that lasted until the pandemic slammed the economy to the ground.  Or, from the 4th quarter of 2020, when we expected the economy to come roaring back.  But it simply can't be something that is remotely relevant to what we are about to experience.  Here's what we know, and how that will impact companies and their sales teams in 2022.  

I'm not an economist, but I can read, seek out trustworthy sources, and have 46 years of business experience. On top of that I am street smart, have good common sense and  can do the math.  

Inflation.  According to Trading Economics, the current inflation rate is running at over 5% compared to 1.2% just a year ago.  That is bound to lead to higher interest rates and a drop in consumer confidence, followed by layoffs, spending freezes and more price increases.

Federal Debt.  According to Statista, the federal debt is over 28 trillion dollars, more than four times what it was 20 years ago.  On top of that, Congress is debating on two bills, which together, would add another 5 trillion dollars to the debt. Regardless of what anyone in the US government says, it can only lead to higher taxes. One of the bills being debated right now has provisions for significant tax hikes.  According to the NY Times, the corporate tax rate could increase by more than 30% and the rate for the wealthiest Americans could double! According to Tax Policy Center, senior fellow, Howard Gleckman, "95% of all federal taxes are paid by households in the top two quintiles — those making about $98,000 or more." 

No matter how you cut it, higher taxes lead to layoffs and spending freezes. The wealthy will have less disposable income to inject into the economy and the businesses they run must layoff staff to compensate for profits being redirected to pay additional corporate income taxes.

Don't get me wrong. If multi-billion dollar companies aren't paying any taxes they should pay their share but this won't affect them.  According to the US Treasury30 million SMEs account for nearly two-thirds of net new private sector jobs. This will affect them and their employees.

Immigration.  You don't have to live in a cave to see what's happening on the southern border and with the Afghanistan immigrants.  Millions of people streaming into the US means millions more low wage workers.  According to George Borjas, professor of Economics at Harvard University, "Immigration redistributes wealth from those who compete with immigrants to those who use immigrants—from the employee to the employer." 

As wages go down, disposable income vanishes and that negatively impacts the economy.

Stock Market.  Wall Street has the jitters right now because they don't like what they are seeing.  According to Morgan Stanley's Chief Investment Officer, Mike Wilson, stocks could be in for a 20% correction. 

That's a devaluation of 20%! 

According to BTIG's Juilian Emanuel, the markets are mimicking 1999 and for those of us who were around back then, it's not good news.  As a matter of fact, that's the kind of news that causes companies to stop spending money in a hurry.

If you've been reading anything in the news, you know there's a lot more going on but these four issues directly impact our economy.  And you don't have to live in the US to be affected by the US Economy because according to the NY Times, as the USA goes, so goes the global economy.  

These four issues don't suggest a coming boom, they warn of a serious recession, with high inflation, high interest rates, and high taxes, coming soon to a city near you.  In other words, an economic disaster.  Not as bad as the complete shutdown we saw in 2020, but probably as bad as the economic crisis we faced in 2009.

So how will that impact companies and their sales teams?

When large companies enact spending freezes, it has a trickle down effect.  For B2B, think cancellations, PO's that aren't issued, layoffs, fear and most especially, real challenges to getting products and services sold unless companies can't do without them.  And even then, there will be more competition and a race to the bottom as companies demand lower prices. Salespeople are ill-equipped and will be scared, while the companies they work for will be too risk-averse to rely on order takers to suddenly sell value in hopes of maintaining margins. 

"Selling value will be the key to survival but
selling value does not occur in a vacuum".
 

It requires strong consultative selling skills (listening and questioning) in the context of a sales process that supports a consultative approach.

Selling value assumes that your salespeople actually got themselves a meeting!  While getting meetings aren't that difficult with good lead generation efforts, meeting with a decision maker is.  46% of all salespeople believe they are reaching decision makers while Objective Management Group's (OMG) data shows that only 13% are actually doing that.  And if the economy tanks the way I expect it to, watch what will happen to those lead generation efforts!

From 2017 to the pandemic, most salespeople were successful in spite of themselves because there was more business than capacity to deliver.  Yet 50% of reps still failed to meet quota.  What will happen to the bottom half of your sales team when there will no longer be orders to take and each opportunity will need to be found and properly sold?  It doesn't sound very exciting.

Now is the time to take control of what lurks ahead.

The. Single. Most. Important. Thing. You. Can. Do. Right. Now. is to have your sales team professionally evaluated.  You must:

  • Learn who is part of your future and who was part of your past
  • Whether sales management is up to the task of coaching up your salespeople
  • Who has the ability to become effective taking a consultative rather than transactional approach to sales?
  • Who has the ability to sell value instead of price?
  • Is your sales process ready to support a consultative, value based approach?
  • How effective are your salespeople at reaching actual decision makers?
  • How effective is your team at gettin prospects past nice-to-have and getting them to must-have?
  • How much better can your salespeople become?
  • How long will it take?
  • What is required?

Those are the first ten things that came to mind but there are hundreds of other questions that could be and should be answered as part of a sales force evaluation.  What do you need to know about your sales team to navigate what I expect will be a very difficult 2022?

Learn more about a sales team evaluation here.

Explore OMG's data from more than 2 million salespeople in the 21 Sales Core Competencies we measure.

Request a sample from a sales team evaluation. Check off the following boxes on your sample request:

Topics: Dave Kurlan, assessments, sales performance, economic crisis, recession, closing deals, 2022

Good News Not a Substitute for Sales Force Competencies

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Apr 08, 2009 @ 06:04 AM

Do you want to hear something crazy?

I'm a very prolific writer - not to say I'm a good writer, just that I post a lot.  And of the dozens and dozens of posts from the last three months, would you like to guess what the LEAST read post was?

It was the one where I wrote about signs that the economy was improving!  And one of the MOST read posts was the one where I wrote about the media making the economy worse.

So, would you rather read about gloom and doom?  Do you not want to know that there are indicators that say things will be turning around?  Does it make you feel better about your business if you know that things still suck everywhere else?  Does it make you feel more frightened if others are seeing things beginning to turn around and you aren't yet?

If that's you, it's an absolute side effect of hunkering down and waiting it out.  If you were taking action, doing something about developing revenue, you wouldn't feel that way.  Doing something makes you feel like you have some control over things.  Generating revenue, no matter how difficult, takes the sting out of things.  Being more proactive, making more calls, getting more referrals, adhering to the sales process, doing a better job asking questions, developing compelling reasons to buy, creating urgency, adding value, being more consultative, using your Work Style Management software, qualifying more effectively, providing better solutions and closing more effectively will solve all revenue problems in time.

We all need some good news but it's not a substitute for working harder, longer, more effectively and smarter right now, the most important competencies in these times.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, sales process, selling, Salesforce, sales tips, recession, generating revenue, Economy

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

10 Steps for your Sales Force to Survive and Thrive in The Recession

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Jan 04, 2009 @ 21:01 PM

Like many of you, I'm back from a much needed vacation where I met a guy who could have been one of the sorry CEO's I have met over the past several months.

I was in the pool, playing catch with our six-year old son, when Henry began a "dialog" with me. He said, "You can't play catch in the pool.  It's against the rules."

I was stunned, but apologized, said I wasn't aware of that rule and removed the football from the pool.

There was another guy in the pool and he mentioned to me that the pool rules did not include an exclusion about playing catch.  I mentioned that to Henry and he became irate because he owns one of the resort's units, wrote the rules himself, and said, "It better be on that sign!"

So what's wrong with this picture?

  • Doesn't "resort" make you think fun, water and sun?
  • He and his friends were at the water's very edge but didn't want to get wet, so he didn't want any splashing which leads to no playing catch.
  • He and his friends were at the pool but in the shade.
  • It was 80 degrees but he was dressed for winter.
  • He was at a resort but wanted the quiet of a senior community. 

How is Henry any different from Bernie?

Bernie is the President of a company that had experienced flat sales for the three strong economic years leading up to the recession. He had been looking for a VP of sales for two years but hadn't found the right candidate or failed to pull the trigger.

He attended an event where he heard me speak and asked me to contact him. He asked for my advice and I recommended that if he was serious about finding the ideal VP, then he should:

  • Evaluate his sales force to better understand its real capabilities and identify the challenges a new VP would have to deal with;
  • Identify the changes that the sales force needed to make to be more effective;
  • Save the new VP at least a year by providing him with a comprehensive understanding of each salesperson's strengths,  weaknesses and coaching requirements. 
  • Identifythe salespeople that could make the transition to being more aggressive at finding and closing new business;
  • Identify the salespeople that could not be developed and plan to replace the under performers;
  • Use this intelligence to find the ideal VP of Sales Candidate.

Once in a while, CEO's and Presidents don't take my advice and Bernie, who was comfortable (hired gun, not an owner), over confident (he thought he knew better), and not afraid of failure (sales were flat, not declining), promoted one of his existing salespeople to take the VP of Sales position.

Ordinarily, this is not a particularly smart move but in this case, it was really dumb. His new VP had never managed a sales force, had no experience selling in a recession, had never reversed a flat sales trend and had never assessed a sales force.  What made Bernie think he could do all this effectively without experience?  Six months later, how do you think he's doing?  Last I heard from Bernie, George was "trying some things."

Bernie and Henry could be the same guy.  Henry was probably an arrogant, over confident president who didn't fear failure just like Bernie. They both know better than everyone else.

Compare Bernie's story with Jack, president of another manufacturer with flat year over year sales at around the same time.  Jack already had a new VP in place, knew there was complacency, knew he needed change, and despite having the expertise to do it himself, knew that it had to come from outside, not within.

Just seven months after evaluating and training, Jack's sales force is accomplishing things today that they couldn't even imagine last spring.  They transitioned from account managers to hunters; they transitioned from making proposals and presentations to conducting quality sales calls where they do nothing except ask great questions; they've gone from selling on price to selling value; they've moved from believing they had to have the best price to selling at their price; and they're closing business at a much higher rate than at this time last year - despite the economic crisis.

Which type of leader are you - Bernie or Jack?

Here are ten steps that you can take to not only survive, but thrive in this recession:

  1. Size up your sales team - we have some free tools like the Sales Force Grader, the Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator and the Sales Achievement Grader; and fee based tools like our world-class Sales Force Evaluation
  2. Get the right people in the right sales/sales management roles.  Our Sales Force Evaluation will provide these insights.
  3. Talk honestly with your sales force about the tough times ahead. Tell them the truth!
  4. Gain their commitment and buy in to work harder, be tougher and do what it takes in these more difficult times.
  5. Perform a pipeline analysis and work the pipeline.  My sales development firm offers EPACS - Emergency Pipeline Analysis and Coaching Strategies where we properly stage, strategize and coach on every opportunity.
  6. Create the necessary infrastructure. This includes an appropriate sales process, recruiting process, sales management systems, and software.
  7. Develop Sales Management on accountability, coaching, recruiting, leadership and motivation.
  8. Develop the salespeople on process, skills and overcoming their weaknesses.
  9. Sales Execution - just do it.
  10. Sales Management Execution - make sure they do it and help them do it.

Ultimately, you must focus on the machine that generates revenue, not costs.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, coaching, sales management, selling, Salesforce, accountability, assessment, recession, objective management group

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine 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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