During a recession, your sales team’s #1 competitor is the customer’s decision to do nothing, to make no change. In good economic times your # 1 competitor is likely another company who sells products and services similar to yours. So, the skills your salespeople need to defeat these two very different competitors are different as well.
Thinking about the long-term, this recession could be the best thing to ever happen to your sales team because it reveals who your team’s “imposters” are. During good economic times some of your salespeople may produce at an acceptable level, proving themselves proficient at late-cycle sales skills such as presenting, differentiating and closing.
In a recession, however, salespeople must become more effective at early sales cycle skills that create customer demand, skills such as prospecting and account penetration, developing customer pain, and clarifying the value of an investment to the customer.
Your salespeople’s willingness to make these changes and invest the additional time required should tell you a lot about whether or not you want them around when the times get good again. The best salespeople, in both good economies and bad, are those who can make something out of nothing.
“Apply yourself. Get all the education you can, but then, by God, do something. Don’t just stand there, make it happen.”