Preparing For The Upturn – What Kind Of Salespeople Do You Have?

The upturn will be shallow and slow, very much two steps forward, one step back. Business will still have to be won; contracts fought over and price sensitivity ever present. Although things will have improved they won’t return to pre-credit crunch levels for a long time.

Salespeople love responding to market demand. When customers are calling them it’s easy to work hard and do a good job. But what about when customers are more elusive, when they not only don’t make contact, but avoid all sales callers?

It won’t be quite as bad next year, but customers will still have to be mobilised and marshalled into giving up their POs. The ability of salespeople to be pro-active will still carry a huge premium. The problem is we still meet salespeople who are still in survival mode, who believe by hunkering down and waiting business will return. There are three major behavioural giveaways to this mind-set:

  1. Any prospecting activity is seen by them as remedial, negative work. They only do it under duress and when management are paying them, and it, attention.
  2. They try to keep as a low a profile as possible. Survivors try to become invisible.
  3. They are expert in explaining why the business is difficult, they will quote market data that shows things are difficult and slow to improve. They constantly try to rationalise away their poor performance.

The salesperson who is more positive about next year whilst still recognising the necessary role they have to play in making it happen will exhibit three different types of behaviour:

  1. They will construct an activity profile that when pushed through their current ratio analysis delivers the numbers they need.
  2. Rather than waiting for ‘bluebird’ business to fly in and land on their computer they treat that kind of business as surplus to their target. All their business plans are built up from the activity they are going to put in to the job.
  3. They will make a much more active contribution to the development of new ways of working.

This high ownership mind-set will deliver growth next year above whatever the economy or market-place delivers. Growth that delivers a double sweetness; not only will it deliver greater profits but it will also take market share from the competition.