Fear undermining sales execution

February 5, 2009

I’m very concerned about the level of fear in the world and especially how it is impacting people involved in Sales.  The news is filled with little other than news of economic distress, layoffs on a scale not seen in years, war, people arguing in Washington about how to stimulate the economy, etc.  It’s disturbing.  And, the outcome of simply listening to the news is creating more fear.

I’m currently engaged in a project in Silicon Valley with a major high technology company so I’m observing this first-hand.  The fear is certainly palpable in the Sales and Marketing organizations and the executive suite.

Sales organizations are scrambling to do anything and everything they can to meet quota. You can feel fear backing up into the Marketing organizations trying to do so much to be “helpful” to the Sales teams that it makes one wonder whether all the programs represent a bigger distraction to the Sales teams than a help. More programs, more collateral, more communication pieces aren’t always the best answer.

Sales management, Marketing and the executive teams are competing for the attention of the front-line people who generate sales in spite of the fact the overriding concern of their buyers is that no one really wants to buy anything they don’t absolutely have to right now.

What are the answers if you are in Sales?  Tighten up execution which means:

  • Figure out what each customer is really telling you, not what you think they are telling you
  • Remember that people buy based on their own self-interests as well as the interests of their company–don’t forget to pay attention to your buyer’s self-interests
  • Look for ways to improve your personal productivity–a few extra meetings a week could make a huge difference
  • If your competitor is getting the business, ask your customer for insights
  • Plan your sales calls carefully–treasure each opportunity to get in front of a customer or prospect
  • Analyze your past successes and see what patterns emerge that might help you produce success now
  • Some companies may be better candidates than others in this economy–the top tier firms tend to be selective but make the investments they must make
  • Maintain quality relationships with your customers–think of the life time value of the customer, not just the next sale
  • When management starts going nuts, maintain your center about who you are and what your customers can realistically do–don’t buy into quotas that you can’t possibly meet
  • Maintain your perspective–not everything good or bad is about you no matter what you might hear
  • Keep your energy level up

Good selling!

Dave Gardner http://www.gardnerandassoc.com