Jim Collins Fortune Interview Translated for the Sales Force

Jim Collins was interviewed in the February 2 issue of Fortune.

He was asked this question:  “Right now, it seems as if people are panicking – or are paralyzed about decisions.”

He responded with, “Almost across the board, people are worrying.  As a rock climber, the one thing you learn is that those who panic, die on the mountain.  you don’t just sit on the mountain.  You either go up or go down, but don’t just sit and wait to get clobbered.  if you go down and survive, you can come back another day.  You have to ask the question, what can we do not just to survive but to turn this into a defining point in history?”

So, if you must do something, as opposed to nothing, what can you do? You can only cut so many costs.  You can only sit back and wait for so long.  You can only hope so much.  At some point, you must do something about the one thing you can control – your sales force – the single connecting point between you and your revenue.  Although you don’t want to increase spending right now, spending money on the group of people that actually have the ability to reverse declining revenue is not only responsible, it is necessary!

If faced with a legal crisis, CEO’s don’t “do what they can”; they call their attorneys.  When faced with a tax or accounting crises, CEO’s don’t do what they can, they call their accountants.  If faced with damage to their property, CEO’s don’t do what they can, they call their insurance agents.

You are faced with an economic crisis.  Don’t do what you can. Do what you must.  Call your Sales Development Expert!  There are so many ways to reverse declining revenues, to help your sales force succeed in these difficult times, to change your approach, to get more of a smaller pie. Just don’t believe that you know what all of those methods are or that you know how to get your salespeople to change.