Companies and Their Sales Forces React Differently to Recession

The state of the economy doesn’t really need to be explained when it’s obvious how the stock market has tanked, gas prices have soared, housing has stopped, the value of real estate has declined and retail sales are down.  Ugly.  So the Fed is lowering interest rates in a belated attempt to fix things.

How does this affect your company?  For some, this will be a good thing.  Bankruptcy attorneys will thrive, Monster and CareerBuilder should do well, grocery stores will continue to sell food, and the industries that cater to their upscale clientele will do business as usual.  However, for most companies, declines in consumer spending and increased costs mean lower sales and profits.  Weak salespeople who sold effectively in a strong economy will struggle when the economy slows down.  The weaknesses were always there but they become exposed when things become difficult.

What will companies do about this?  Some companies will simply cut back and wait it out.  Some companies will allow themselves to be acquired.  Other companies will grow by acquisition.  Scared companies will lower prices to make sales.  In my opintion, most of these companies are stuck, doing what they have always done when things became difficult.

Smart companies, the kinds that reinvent themselves, spend money on technology, get lean, become ISO certified, institute 6 Sigma, attend Conferences, Summits and Symposiums, read business books and work with experts will be fine.  They’ll actually be better than fine.  Companies like these, who haven’t already gone through the process of evaluating their sales forces, will do it now.  There is no better time than when the weaknesses and challenges are obvious.  That is when you can learn exactly what you must improve to grow sales and profits while most others are cutting back or maintaining.

So what’s the difference between the smart companies and the stuck companies?  Leadership. Confidence.  Vision.  There is a scene in Lion King 2-1/2  where Timon, the meercat, tells Rafiki, the shaman-like monkey, that he is looking for a new home, a utopia. 

Rafiki, in his best Dali Lama imitation, says, “Luke bayonde whaat yoo see.”   Great leaders have the ability to look beyond the economy as it is and understand how much stronger they will be when prospects and customers begin to freely spend money again.  They have the confidence to retool, make changes, optimize, train, develop and improve, knowing that this is the best possible time to work on issues like these.

If you haven’t made changes like these when things are great, and you don’t do it when the economy weakens, you never will.  This is a perfect opportunity to have OMG look at your people, your systems and processes and your strategies to help you understand what needs to change in order to achieve significant growth – despite the economy.

Would you like to outsell your competition?  Would you like to increase your margins?  Would you like to have the best salespeople?  Would you like to find a lot more new business?  Would you like everyone to over achieve?  Would you like your sales force to totally kick-ass when the economy heats up?  Evaluate your sales force, address what needs attention and watch the business come in.