As our industry approaches uncertain times, huge drops in revenue in some sectors (Food & Beverage), many of our prospects are just not willing to take appointments or make decisions. So, if our salespeople aren’t producing or can’t produce, we should just layoff our entire staff, right? It’s human nature to want to preserve dollars and cut costs. Those are viable and real strategies, but there are other things you can do with your sales team during this time.
- Training – Training is so critical in any role. Sales training is a critical miss that many don’t focus on because of time. We now have the time. Let’s firm up our message to the market and take the time to provide a real focus on training the right way. From the sales process, upfront contracts, qualifying and quantifying opportunities, moving through the sales funnel, etc. There are plenty of topics you can use to make sure your team is ready once the economy turns.
- Work your pipeline – Odds are you have plenty of prospects that aren’t being followed up with the right way. The number one thing we train salespeople to do is follow-up. Most sales are made between the 5th and 12th contact and most salespeople quit following up after the 2nd attempt. That tells us we likely have a lot of prospects that need to hear from us. Even if they aren’t buying right now, let them know (for those that offer it) that we have sanitation and cleaning products. That won’t be needed just now, but for the long term. Get these people in line and let them know our supply is dedicated to our customers. Overall, keep the relationships and communication strong. Although we don’t know what the future holds, we know that Nationals will have to get their earnings and will likely be raising prices soon. That’s a golden opportunity.
- Re-purpose – Sales is already a high turnover position. A lot of times because we drive good ones away by how we manage. The fear management isn’t one that salespeople respond to, but many use. Threatening them with their jobs isn’t very motivating. That aside, we know how long it takes to find salespeople and train them. If you have good ones, don’t let them go. Re-purpose them to areas like:
- Extending customer agreements (if you make short term concessions)
- Updating Contract Expiration dates in their CRM’s (cleaning it up)
- Working with Service, the Plant or office for whatever is needed to get done
- In the event that you need to cut expenses, allow them to sell on a commission only or reduced time basis and point them to the short-term assistance programs that many states and our federal government are offering for unemployment. The relaxed process it takes to get unemployment could benefit them with reduced hours or temporary reduction in work.
Overall, if you have good salespeople, do what you can to keep them. Other companies will be looking, and it may be hard to get them back. Part of working at a family owned company is you must wear multiple hats sometimes. Most understand that. Let them know your desires, be transparent, and come together to weather the storm. You will have an increased level of loyalty if you do that.