Advice:Survival of the fittest – not the thinnest!

By , published on 22nd September 2010

As we start the economic recovery period, the spate of company closures and redundancies are testimony to how difficult the economic conditions have been and still continue to be for some.

To survive the hard times the cost base is the obvious place to start and there’s nothing wrong with the desire to be lean, but what do you do when there is no more fat to trim? Well, it’s the job of the sales force then to shore up the other side of the business.

But consider this: over half the people now involved in sales have never experienced a recession.

A whole generation of Sales Directors, Sales Managers and Salespeople have no previous experience of dealing with a recession or a recovery. Indeed, most have been operating through one of the longest economic booms since the 1950s.

This means they risk doing exactly the wrong things in their efforts to bring in the business.

Key pointers:

  1. Putting pressure on the sales force to work harder is unlikely to produce results.
  2. ‘Working harder’ doesn’t work. The key to success is ‘working smarter’.
  3. Focusing sales effort on the best opportunities brings the greatest results.
  4. Plan how to win the business and explore their needs to build stronger relationships.
  5. Don’t chase every bit of business. As the Chinese proverb says ‘Try to catch two monkeys and both will escape’.
  6. Salespeople require higher skill levels to sell in a recession – so keep up with the training, don’t cut this vital cost. It’s the fittest that survive, not the thinnest.

The most important skill required for success in a difficult business climate is the ability to explore and develop customer needs. It’s this move from ‘seller’ to ‘trusted adviser’ that differentiates the successful sales organisation.

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Janette Whitney

About Janette Whitney

Janette Whitney is an award-winning business consultant, media columnist and award-winning business author. She specialises in business growth strategies and finance and formed her consultancy business after a highly successful career in banking. Janette’s expertise has won her both national and regional awards which include ‘Consultant of the year’ and ‘Business Book of the Year’ award (as co-author of ‘The Essential Business Guide’).

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