If you work with a sales director, please surgically remove his/her BlackBerry and place this article under their ubiquitous device of preference. If you are a sales director, please close your spreadsheet on headcount, stop sweating the forecasts and read on: Here are key tactics for winning sales in the climate of 2009.
1. Talk it up
There are a number of people who seem determined to dampen the mood – even more than Roger Federer did after the Australian Open final. Yes, we know you have to cover your caboose at forecast time, but there ARE sales to be won out there and your team needs you to be positive, direct and encouraging. They are watching how you respond to the situation and will follow accordingly.
2. Turbo performance management
No, this is not about the little blue pills on the bedside table. You need to turbo-charge your CFO and do some real performance management of your sales team. Re-visit territories, re-jig quotas, get rid of the perennial underachievers you’ve been hedging on for a while, and do the analytics.
3. Avoid going to the wrong well
Everyone loves going to the same accounts in the same verticals because it’s comfy – we know that customer A likes the cricket (well, until recently) and customer B has their coffee with two sugars. However, they may not be the clients with the budget or the IT pain points anymore. This is the time to totally re-assess who needs you: Who needs your systems to reduce CapEx by 30 per cent; who can utilise your new integrated software; who is after new tools that cut client headcount by 20 per cent? They may be clients you’ve never dealt with before. Alternatively, a fresh look from the client’s perspective in the current climate may uncover totally new avenues and channels of revenue.
4. Lead, Lead, Lead
There are opportunities to lead from the front and drive the sales cycle on more than a couple of deals. In the past few months, I’ve heard plenty of excuses for why sales directors couldn’t do this. They range from ‘I’m too busy working on strategy and getting the forecast right’ and ‘I have to work on managing up right now’, to ‘I am working on getting my average performers over the line’ or ‘I’m a big believer in empowerment and don’t want to come in over the top of my sales manager/team leader on these deals’.
In my experience, sales directors in the ICT industry are some of the most skilled, professional dealmakers in the country and yet, for these and other reasons, they hold back from using their expertise to drive sales. The 2009 economic environment we’re dealing with presents the perfect opportunity to be spending a significant chunk of time leading, not directing.