A decade ago, I worked with many companies during the economic downturn to ensure that they remained buoyant whilst the order books of many of their competitors nose-dived. I can see similar challenges at play for many companies today so I wanted to share with you four core areas outlining how to prepare your sales team for Brexit, whatever the result of Britain leaving / not leaving the EU.
First off, I have to admit that I have no crystal ball. I have no idea what is going to happen. I have no inside track on the negotiations, no secret knowledge of what any of the MPs are planning, and little faith in their ability to act in the interests of the country (whatever you think they are!). I had quite a long conversation with my MP some months ago at an event and it is fair to say that he had an opinion (the same as everyone else does) but no real plan and no idea of what Theresa May’s was either.
So, what should you do?You need to control what you can control and stop worrying about what you cannot.Click To Tweet
At this point, most companies seek to ensure that they have control of their costs, to protect their supplies, and eradicate surprises. All of this makes sense but it often comes at the expense of their sales and things only become more difficult if you abandon good sales practises thus guaranteeing that your sales will fall.
Here are four essential areas that you need to focus on to maximise your sales in difficult times:-
You need to make sure that your teams are proactive. If sales from existing clients and contacts fall, then you need to have a more robust outreach programme. Your salespeople need to be contacting new contacts in existing clients, dormant customers, and new prospects regularly. They need to make business development a daily part of what they do.
In good times, many companies tend to have more of an account management focus. They need bigger clients and as they win them, they become more account focused than new business focused. If they are not careful, salespeople become order-takers. It only takes a few large clients reigning in their costs and your sales will flounder.
Top salespeople have the capability to engage new and existing clients alike. They have the skills, systems and processes for doing so that either they or their companies have developed for them. During the last economic downturn, many clients rang me to say that their teams were not motivated and proactive enough and that they needed #IAM10 mental toughness… but… plenty also rang me to say that they had motivated teams but they had no idea what to do!
If your teams rarely network or prospect they might well be lacking core business development skills. Ringing people up and asking them if they have a need is better than nothing but it is going to burn more accounts than it opens.
In challenging markets, salespeople need to sell on value not price. It’s an oft carped mantra but one that few salespeople ever master. In buoyant markets this costs you profit; in difficult ones it costs you your business.
When clients cut costs, the first thing that they do is tap their suppliers. This makes buying from existing and new suppliers more about cost than anything. Many think of this as a negotiation issue but it is impossible to negotiate if you have not created the value in the first place and most struggle to move the conversation away from price and onto value.
Question: Do your teams have the sales skills to sell on value and not price in even the most competitive of markets? Are their conversations more about how they add value or how they can reduce prices?Click To Tweet
In difficult times, salespeople need more support. They need systems and processes to fall back on and engaged leaders who engage with and coach them. They need leaders who focus on helping them to stay focused on the three core building blocks of all successful sales teams… Conviction + Clarity + Consistency.
When everybody around you falls, what do your teams do? Do they get up, dust themselves down and keep doing what they need to do with belief and passion or do they start to lose their focus?
How did you do? What do your teams look like?