As we wade deeper into recession, you will certainly agree that there are two things you must not lose:
- Good/Great Salespeople
I conducted a Google search for "why salespeople quit their jobs" and was surprised to find more than 6 million results for that query! The first page of results was filled with self-serving articles from companies like Gong (artificial intelligence for digital prospecting), Hubspot (marketing platform) and more urging you to leverage their platforms so that you don't have to rely on salespeople.
I also found a pattern that was similar to last month's search for "top sales blogs" as part of my research for the article, The Top 12 Sales Blogs of 2022 That Make You Think and Sell More. There were lots of articles that had the top 5, 7, 10, 12, and 15 reasons why salespeople leave or quit their jobs. Most of those lists were simply subsets of other lists and the reasons included things like compensation, morale, workload, changing quotas, culture, toxic management, the job was misrepresented, too much pressure and lack of growth opportunity. While there were no surprises to these lists of reasons, I think there is a more pervasive reason that is not represented on the lists created by marketers and recruiters:
Companies are still routinely selecting the wrong salespeople and the wrong salespeople are the ones that often leave. Period. Sales and HR leaders still make hiring decisions by relying on resumes, how someone interviews and gut feel, and while all three of those criteria have their place, a customizable, sales-specific, accurate and predictive assessment that measures capabilities in all 21 Sales Core Competencies is the difference maker. The right sales-specific assessment will weed out sales candidates who lack the required skill set for the role, and identify the best candidates to consider for the role. When you hire salespeople that meet and exceed expectations and quotas, the previously mentioned factors generally cease to exist. Hire salespeople and focus on fit for the role.
A recession makes it more difficult to sell new customers, new projects and new products and services so you can not lose customers right now. Period. Most people believe that salespeople are the differentiators that assure customer retention but the reality is that it's customer service that plays the biggest role. Just think about the customer service you have personally received over the past 2-3 years and how horrible and unacceptable most of it has been. When you have the rare good experience you not only don't want to leave that company, it has nothing to do with price. It has everything to do with how the company and their CSRs treat you and solve your problem.
Finally, some advice in advance of unfavorable selling conditions. I've sold and/or consulted through recessions dating back to the 80's! Most, especially the economic crisis of 2008/9, caught companies by surprise and nobody saw a pandemic coming. Most companies did not fare very well during the various economic crises because they hunkered down and tried to wait it out. That wasn't a very good strategy. Some companies actually grew during the down-time! They sought out help at the first sign, right-sized their sales teams, invested in sales process, training and coaching and were clearly the exceptions to the rule. They thrived while most companies lost ground.
Hire salespeople when your instinct is to let people go. Invest in CSRs and make sure they will go out of their way to make customers happy. Be proactive and aggressive in getting your sales team the help they need to sell when prospects don't want to meet or spend money, yet have more choices from increased competition with most focusing on lowering prices to win the business. If your sales team is well trained, none of that will matter and they will continue to sell at your desired margins.
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