For every handful of sales managers who are giving it their all, there are one or two who are hanging back, collecting a paycheck, and waiting for better times.With that in mind, I'd like to offer eight high octane sales management tips that work in any economy: 1.
Holding onto that kind of attitude, however, is no way to lead a sales department - and it's no way to set an example for your sales team, either.
Get people excited: The one thing every sales person needs - and one of the only things you can give them without stretching your department's budget - is enthusiasm.
With it, no sale seems too out of reach; without it, even the best-qualified prospects are bound to slip away.
Hold contests, bring in trainers, or do whatever else you need to do to get people excited - enthusiasm won't cure every problem the economy or a competitor throws your way, but it's a good first step in the right direction.
Focus on what you can control: There's really no use in getting worked up over things that are happening outside your walls, since you usually can't do much to affect them.
So make sure that you and your sales team are focused on what you can control - your own attitudes and activities.
Decide you're not going to let up or lower your goals, and then plan accordingly.
You might not be able to fix every problem, but you can keep control over the way you work and feel.
Find the good news: It's easy for your sales producers to become discouraged when they're facing an onslaught of bad employment reports, terrible news within the industry, layoffs at other firms, worries at home, and dozens of other nagging problems that come with the slow economy.
Balance things out once in a while by bringing up the good news.
Show your sales people that buyers are still out there, the economy will eventually turn around, and that it's still a great time to be selling.
Go into the field: It won't ever matter what you say to the producers on your staff if they think you don't understand the reality they are facing every day.
That's why, in a soft economy, it's more important than ever to get out in the field and see what kind of feedback your salespeople are getting from prospects and customers.
Besides, doing so will help you to understand where your salespeople are in their development, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how you can train and motivate them going forward.
Integrate product knowledge: The more your salespeople know and understand the products and services your company offers, the better job they can do explaining the benefits of buying to prospective clients.
And yet, especially when things are tough, lots of managers like to focus solely on motivation, leaving product knowledge for another time.
Don't fall for that trap: make sure every member of your team doesn't just know the ins and outs of what they're selling, but can explain them in a way that leads to signed orders.
Teach a sales system: In a tough sales environment, it's easy for things to get sloppy.
A good sales system can keep your staff focused on the process of finding prospects, qualifying them, and then negotiating and closing them into new accounts.
A poor economic climate means you should be doing everything you can to close as many sales as possible - and not squandering those opportunities that are remaining.
Turn your sales department into a sales university: Constant learning is a hallmark of great producers and superstar selling teams, so take advantage of the down time a rough economy offers to make your staff better.
Not only will they be more prepared when the upswing comes, but a steady diet of books, videos, and seminars on selling will keep them focused in the meantime.
Practice smart hiring: Lots of sales managers complain about the poor salespeople on their staffs, but who is to blame for this problem? In most cases, they wish they had stronger salespeople only because they were too lazy to find and hire better candidates.
Even though you might not be adding salespeople until things pick up, learn the attributes of the strong sales person and how to identify them in interviews, personality assessments, and other tools at your disposal.
The last thing you want to do - in this market or any other - is find yourself trying to train someone who was always a poor candidate for sales.