Your Team Needs Leadership: Motivation When Sales are Down
Changes in the market should never catch a good sales manager off guard. That’s right, I said NEVER.
Proactive sales leaders live each day of a good market as if it is their last and always provide motivation when sales are down.
There are lessons we can learn in a tough market that cannot be learned in a strong one. You’ve probably heard me or our trainers say these exact words at some point.
Challenging markets bring better sales skills, greater structural efficiencies, and a renewed focus on operational excellence.
When the market is strong, we are all geniuses. When the market slides, it separates the pretenders from the authentic.
So consider these four tactical approaches for sales managers in challenging markets (if you’re not in a tough market right now, you can still benefit from these disciplines).
Your Attitude is Contagious
A slower market brings out frustration, and many sales managers demonstrate that aggravation to their salespeople.
The result: a phone call from the sales manager produces a frustrated sales professional, and a frustrated sales professional is likely ineffective at the task.
Though the pressure is tremendous and the problems are mentally draining, you must do everything in your power not to demonstrate your anxiety to your sales staff.
They will take their cue directly from your attitude.
Show them it’s all good, and they’ll feel better about their jobs.
Show them there is reason to panic, which is precisely what they will do.
Get Lots of Ideas
In a fiery hot market; you need inventory. In a slow market, you need ideas on how to move your inventory quickly. The best way to get good ideas is to get lots of them.
Schedule regular brainstorming sessions, and include people from different perspectives on the issue.
Start with your traditional resources (advertising agency, salespeople, other managers, etc.) and then expand your pool of idea possibilities to managers from different industries, subcontractors, and, perhaps most importantly, buyers.
Ironically, we tend to talk to buyers less when the market is soft. Wrong!
Talk to them more – lots more.
They’ve got some great lessons for you.
Now that you’ve got great ideas, try them.
Try them all.
The fact is that you don’t know what is going to work, so try everything that makes financial sense. Some of the best ideas cost nothing, so what’s the harm?
Remember that in a tough market, everyone is trying the same tired things (increase the advertising budget, add more d-mail; throw out an e-blast); they’re all budget-busters and tired.
Stand out. Be different.
What have you got to lose?
Ask for Help
From time to time; I’ll hear a manager say something like, “Last week, I almost hung it up; I was so frustrated.”
I’ll ask, “Did you talk to anyone? Did you try to find creative support from other sources?”
“Well, no. I was just too frustrated.”
This job is challenging enough in a strong market. Take advantage of your resources when the market goes soft and ask others for input, suggestions, ideas, critique, or just sit there and listen to you vent.
If you internalize your anguish too much, you are likely to let off steam at precisely the wrong time – when you are talking to your boss, your salespeople, or your customers.
Understand this about challenging markets.
I repeat, there are lessons you can learn in times of adversity that cannot be learned in times of prosperity.
And if you’re humming along in genius mode (your market is smokin’, and it’s all because of your expertise), you might consider the plight of those who, in the past, got a bit too comfy with the strong market only to learn for the first time that markets change.
One last opportunity in a tough market – tough markets demonstrate greatness.
You’re not a great manager because you can excel when the market is strong.
Greatness is shown through excellence when the market is weak.
After all, if you need a great market to be a great manager, what does a bad market make you?