Posted by: peterhact | December 4, 2012

In the midst of a downturn, who stays and who goes?

One of the things I have noticed in recent years is that a salesperson in a slump is no longer supported by the business they work for. They are an easy target for retrenchment, for firing and the business feels that they can do without that particular person.

When did this change? When did a salesperson become as commoditised as the products that they sell? Don’t get me wrong, there are some people who aren’t suited to the life as a salesperson, but they usually are weeded out early in their careers. There are certain people who, for whatever reason, believe that they can sell, when they are better in a support role, a technical role, a management role.

The best way to find out whether a salesperson is right for the business of selling is to find out why they aren’t selling. What is preventing them from selling? There needs to be in every salesperson’s life a series of structured and rigid procedures and policies. Why? Well, if the salesperson does not know what the company strategy is, they will “Scattergun” opportunities. They need targets, to measure against, territories, to identify key market segments and support, so that they know that there is a company behind them, a team, not a group of individuals.

Every person who has a job knows what they do. Salespeople do not provide technical support. Office administrators do not order products and services. CIOs don’t engage in break / fix of client systems. Each specific role has specific responsibilities, but all must meet a common criteria:

If your company helps customers, everyone in the company is dedicated to excel in customer service.

From the receptionist, the purchasing officer, the accounts person, the salespeople, the support people, the technical people. If you pick up the phone and answer a client phone call, you must treat them with respect. There is no place for joking about your customers, regardless of whether your comments are directed at them or at your colleagues. You must expect the customers to not be subject experts about technology, medical, secretarial, etc, etc. The customer engages a company for the services that they don’t understand or don’t have the time to learn about. They expect that the experience will be great, not good, and that they can rely on the company to support them. Reliance. a small word, a big responsibility.

Who should go in a downturn? keeping every single staff member may result in far reaching ramifications. The company may go under. The company needs to survive, but you work out who is not able to assist in the growth of the company. The people who aren’t prepared to change, that cannot see the big picture and expect that they don’t need to. Who helps a company grow? Salespeople do. Technical staff support existing clients, they cannot grow a business. If they are selling, where are they letting the company down? supporting the number one person that the company has, which is the client. Stick to your jobs. if you are technical, be the best technician. If you are procurement, be the best in that role. If you are sales, and in a bit of a rut, a good manager will find out the why, the how and what needs to be done to fix it.

Don’t throw away salespeople. Fix them.


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