“I think you need to be constantly asking your reps questions and finding out what they need to be successful.” – Steve Benson in today’s Tip 772
What can sales managers do to help their reps protect the margin and keep sales up in a bad economy?
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Scott Ingram: You’re listening to the Daily Sales Tips podcast and I’m your host, Scott Ingram. Today’s tip comes from Steven Benson. Steve is the Founder and CEO of Badger Maps, the #1 route planner for field sales people. He also hosts the Outside Sales Talk podcast and is the founder of the Sales Hall of Fame. Here’s part two of his tip:
Steve Benson: Hi, I’m Steve Benson, CEO of Badger Maps. Today. I’m going to talk a bit about the action sales managers need to take in a recession and some of the challenges and solutions that sales reps, selling into a recession can experience. So first off an economy that’s in recession can bring a whole bunch of new challenges for sales reps and sales managers. First of all, desperate competitors doing desperate things. A lot of companies are really hurting and they’re really willing to do things they would never have done before. So things like deep discounting liquidating their inventory to make ends, meet, giving away free consulting, or other low costs, but valuable things that are all structured to be given away to steal your customers away from you.
Second new challenges from your prospects and your customers that you may experience like resistance from customers that wasn’t there before. Not wanting to engage. Not wanting to learn about your product, not wanting to meet with you, et cetera. Resistance to spending money. Spending freezes can often come from the very top. You’re also going to have to watch out for aggressive procurement offices who are looking to leverage the down economy for discounts, better terms, and generally, you’re going to try to jam down your margins.
So what can you do about these things? What can sales managers do to help their reps protect the margin and keep sales up in a bad economy?
Next thought things that a sales leader can do to change their behavior, to keep revenue flowing in these times, you know, an economic crisis is one of the toughest times to be a sales leader because the whole company depends on the revenue that your team produces to survive. So what do you need to change as a leader?
I’d say sales leaders in these times, and to be action-oriented, they need to confront reality. They need to be honest in their assessments of the challenges that are facing the organization. They need to embrace bad news, ask hard questions. And at the same time, I think it’s important that you maintain a positive outlook. You build an action plan and that you are transparent with your team about what that action plan is. I think you need to be more responsive, more supportive of your sales reps. It’s a good time to reassess the KPIs and not just focus on things like revenue, but also focus on KPIs. That might be more, forward-looking like proposals to qualified leads and new meetings with new qualified leads, things like that. I think you need to spend more time coaching sales team. You should spend 50% of your time coaching your sales team in any kind of time of change like this.
Whatever you don’t go silent. And it’s easy to slip into silence in our remote world. And I think you need to be constantly asking your reps questions and finding out what they need to be successful. Learning who on the team is having success right now with what type of customer profile, what is the playbook for that success. And then with the help of the rep that cracked the code, train the rest of the team to replicate that success. You know, a great sales leader always understands what’s going on at the ground level because that informs them on the direction they need to steer the ship.
I think a final thought, if this is a tactical thing in a down economy, you often need to change your messaging from we’ll help you do better, which is very common messaging that you see. It’s a, which works fine in a good economy, right? You need to change it too. We’ll help you do more with less. And then you need to go about showing your prospects how much in terms of dollars that you’ll help them do more than less could with less. It could be less money. It could be less manpower. It could be fewer resources.
I can use myself as an example here. I did this with my sales team when times were good. My sales team at Badger, their messaging to our customers was we’ll help you sell 20% more with your field sales team. And now in the down economy, I changed the messaging with them. And this is not just with the sales team, but also on the, you know, with the marketing team too. And the messaging has changed too, with Badger Maps, your outside sales team can generate the same revenue, even though your team is 20% smaller. And there’s really, there’s a huge difference between these two positionings and ways of communicating your message. Even though it basically says the same thing, but one of the messages will resonate way more with your prospects and customers in a down economy. So that’s what I have as my sales tip today. Thanks a lot.
Scott Ingram: You’ll find the first part of Steve’s tip in episode 765, and as always we’ll have links to Steve’s LinkedIn profile, Badger Maps, The Outside Sales Talk podcast, and the Sales Hall of Fame, when you click over to DailySales.Tips/772.
Once you’ve checked that out, be sure to come back tomorrow for another great sales tip. Thanks for listening!