Author Lee B. Salz brings together a collection of critical thinking from a variety of consultants and thought leaders, and has them weigh in on what businesses need to do to avoid becoming a growing statistic of companies unable to change their rigid ways.
I’ve included the entire article below that Lee wrote. Read how over 20 industry experts responded to the question, “If you were talking to a sales manager about how to focus their sales team and drive productivity, what would you say?”
The Unprecedented Sales Management Challenge for 2009
By Lee B. Salz
Sales managers are facing a set of challenges that they’ve never experienced before. They think their team is focused on generating sales, but they are completely distracted.
As a sales manager, for years, you’ve had Human Resources preaching to you about the importance of work-life balance for your sales team. They reminded you that studies showed that productivity increased when employees had balance between their work life and their personal one. They told you that the team needed time to recharge their batteries so they could sell more for the company.
Some still talk about work-life balance, but the truth of the matter is that this is a yesterday issue. Work-life implies that “work” is a stressful world and “life” is a place of solace. Those days are gone with the way our economy has evolved. Your sales team is getting it from both sides now. They have unprecedented, high levels of stress at work and at home. The former life of solace is now filled with concerns of mounting debt, drastic drops in home values, a real fear of job loss, and disgust over their investment portfolio.
When your sales team arrives to start the day at 8am, the reality is that their day is already over. They began their day by watching the morning news. “Unemployment is at a record high! Housing values continues to fall! Consumer confidence is non-existent!” What a great way to start a productive sales day!
Imagine a boxer who gets beaten up before he enters the ring…What chance does he have of being successful in the match? ZERO! Today, your sales team is faced with the same challenges as that boxer. The media is defeating them before their day even begins. They arrive at work to begin their day, but the truth of the matter is that they are already finished. They’ve already lost.
Despite all of these woes, the company is relying on the sales team to pull the company out of the painful downward spiral driven by the economic mess. Logic would tell you that with the present state of affairs, the sales team is more focused than ever on generating sales. Every minute of the business day, they are either on the phone with a prospect or meeting with one. All they can think of is: Make a sale!
Unfortunately, logic does not come into play here. All of the external noise is leading your sales team in the complete opposite direction. They are checking the market hourly, their 401k every 15 minutes, and checking the job boards. It’s as if there is total sales paralysis. Sales productivity is probably at an all time low, at a time when the company needs them most. As the sales manager, this all falls in your lap. You are the face of the sales organization. The company needs you to change your hat from manager to leader to help focus the troops on the task at hand.