You Can’t Shrink Your Way To Excellence

So the economy has been in the tank and orders aren’t coming in fast enough. Contracts are being cancelled, and salespeople are quickly learning that selling is more than showing up and taking orders. So what do most managers do? Take out the knife and cut back. When that doesn’t work they cut back some more. While it may seem prudent and good business to cut costs where you can, this approach can have disastrous consequences when it is applied to the sales force. Why?

Consider this: If the average salesperson brings in 10 to 15 times their compensation in sales, why would we want FEWER of them? Other than marketing, sales is the only area that generates revenue for a company. Not accounting, administration, HR, not any other department. When a company cuts back on hiring, recruiting or training sales people they effectively limit their future.

Your financial people, who do not understand or appreciate the sales role, will argue that you should cut anywhere you can. Fine. If you must cut, cut everything else but not the sales force. In this economy, you must put MORE salespeople to work, not less. You must provide MORE training, not less. Initiate MORE accountability, not less. INCREASE recruiting efforts not reduce them.

Companies must perform their way to excellence. It takes work to grow and take market share by out-hustling, out-strategizing and out-recruiting your competitors. Most managers resist this because the left side of their brain is addicted to quick fixes, while the right side of their brain is on a starvation diet.

If sales are flat, or worse, down from your goals and projections, INCREASE the sales effort and do not tighten the belt in the sales department. Have your sales organization evaluated, find out who has the ability to become more effective and give them the training they’ll need to reach their fullest potential.

As a manager, give yourself a gut-check and decide if you want to follow the herd, or get up front and lead. Are you content to merrily co-exist in your market, or do you have the commitment to step up and dominate it with bold strategies and solid execution?

Randy Scott

Great Article! Steve, what would you suggest for someone who is the “only” sales representative (along with everything else)? I grew the business last year, but next year is already starting to look bleak. Any suggestions would be helpful.

John Scholl

Couldn’t agree more. Customers are cutting back their staff. That means new buyers, new doors to open, new prospects looking for new ways to do business. To reach them we need more feet on the street, more calls and more appointments. The results should mean more business.

Ken Stoner

Our company added a new sales rep in January and 3 more in February. It’s full speed ahead for us!

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