“When the student is ready the teacher will appear.”
The other day, a board member was lamenting on the poor performance of his company. So I said, "You should hire me to help your company get more sales." To which he replied, "Not right now, Sam. The timing's not right." So I said, "Timing?? Let me ask you, if you could get more sales, would that help your company's performance?" He of course said, "Yes."
So I ask you, and every other business person -- Is now the right time to seek help? “Yes it is.” Why, because you need it. If you didn’t and you knew what to do, you would have done it, and more sales wouldn't be an issue.
Reasons Management Doesn't Seek Help
I scratch my head daily and wonder why in this time of sales shortfalls most don't invest and seek selling help. In fact, it's just the opposite. All consultants are terminated. Marketing budgets are slashed. Prices are cut, and sales people and managers are laid off.
Here are some reason’s why:
Can't Afford It
There is not enough money to support staff and other expenses because sales are down . Two options -- increase revenues or cut expenses. Since most don't know how to increase revenues, they cut expenses -- especially the revenue producing ones. My suggestion is to learn how to increase revenues. Hire people and make it performance based.
The Economy Is Bad -- Nobody Is Buying
Right And Wrong -- the economy is worse than ever, but people and companies are still buying. I love to use this, -- Unemployment is 10.5%. However, employment is 89.5% and that’s a much bigger number. The essence of The Economy Is Bad concept is that you and your people only hold your own against competition. In other words, you don't know how to steal share. The economy goes up, you sell more. The economy goes down, you sell less, because you keep or lose share. My suggestion is learn how to attract you competitors’ customers and get you customers to spend.
What Will Others Say
I call this "social results" and it is a buying triggers. It is a key element of buyers’ psyches. Managers think, "What will people say if I spend money hiring consultants or on revenue producing initiatives, when I am laying-off people?" "My boss will fire me." "The board will go crazy." "Shareholders and employees will feel I'm out of control."
You're right. As long as sales continue to go down – bosses, board members, shareholders, employees, etc. will think all of those thoughts, with or without you’re your hirings or spendings, until sales go up.
Now in the cloisters of your mind you're hoping they’re thinking, "He reduced expenditures during this downturn." Well, here are two arguments: One -- people don't praise your efforts to minimize damages. All they will think about are the damages. Two -- retrenching (spending nothing and cutting expenditures) is similar to saying, "Dig the foxhole deeper boys and girls, more bombs are coming in." A better command would be, "Let's run for safety," or “Let’s attack the bombers.” Cutting your revenue generation supply lines is not attacking or running for safety. It's more about covering your behind.
What to Do.
1. Make your revenue generation, performance-based.
• Hire consultants and market but only pay expenses - no fees until sales improve.
• Make your salespeople accountable. Apply negative commissions, if they fail to meet their forecasts or if they far exceed their forecast. There should be no surprises in selling. Boy, I’ll bet you’re swallowing hard on that one.
• Get management to put their skin in the business. Until sales increase, management gets 40 -50% pay cuts. Why should people get paid well when business is bad? Please, spare me the, “We’ll lose talent,” or “They are minimizing how bad it could be” arguments.
The caveat however, is, good fees, commissions, salary increases should be generously extended, once sales increase.
2. Fund revenue generation from cutting other expenditures.
• Cut production and layoff production people and supervision -- no excuses.
• Sell buildings and equipment -- lease it, or borrow against it.
• Cut senior management, or demote them to worker bees.
Remember, this is business, and without revenue, there is no business. Once sales are good again, you can buy it all back, and it will probably be better suited.
This will make perfect sense to many and sound ridiculous to others. However, without investing in revenue generation –especially when sales are down, you're doomed. You have to stretch the envelope, remove the blinders, think outside the box, or whatever to find ways to sell more. I strongly recommend investing in your selling effort and your sales management. Get everyone in your company involved in the selling effort.
If you're an individual, buy books on selling, listen to selling CDs and watch sales training videos. You may feel you’ve read or head it before, but it will spark new ideas. Besides, now you’ll be reading and listening from a different level of understanding.
Here’s what drives me -- what if my competitors are doing this, that is hiring and getting better and I'm not?
And now I invite you to learn more.
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Sam Manfer is an expert sales person, entertaining key note speaker and author of TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER$, a book that gets C-Level and other influential decision-makers to meet with you and return voicemails. Sam makes it easy for any sales person to generate tons of quality leads, and become a 70% closer. Sign-Up for Sam’s FREE Advanced Sales Training Tips and Articles at http://www.sammanfer.com