Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


Don't Be Risk Adverse - July 25, 2015

Being a father and a youth sports coach I often watch over kids taking risks. They may seem small to me at the time, like my daughter going off the high dive at the pool for the first time. It could be asking a player to try a new position that he’s not entirely comfortable in. Or, it could be asking a child to trust you when you tell them no, because you know from experience what a certain outcome might be to their request.


In business, leaders are expected to take risks, and to be a good sales manager, you must not be risk adverse. You cannot afford to always play it safe. This may be taking a risk and promoting someone into a higher-level sales role, knowing they may not entirely be ready yet, but also having a sense that this person will rise to the challenge and succeed.


Risk in sales is an everyday occurrence. It may be cold calling the “whale prospect”, you know, the one that would put you and your company on a different level. If you don’t take the risk and call, you’ll never know if they might be interested. And, so it goes in business, risk must be accepted and embraced and managed very carefully.


What happens then when members of the management team do become risk adverse? What do you do, as a leader in your organization, when your peers begin to worry and ask more of the “what if we do X and it backfires” versus “what happens if we don’t do X”? In other words, what happens to your company when those entrusted with leadership positions no longer trust in you, your employees, or even themselves, to take a risk in order to grow the business.


Speaking specifically to the sales managers reading this post, you cannot afford to become risk adverse and be asked to still grow your company (market share, revenue, etc.). It is simply not possible to do the same old, same old and expect different or better results. Taking risks, even small risks, will help you and your sales team stay competitive and ultimately grow.


I am not suggesting that you blindly throw caution to the wind and take on so many risky propositions that you go backward. ‘A’ level sales managers and sales representatives must learn how to control their risk-reward balance. Maintaining balance between what is tried & true, knowing what will create an almost guaranteed sale, generating revenue with a solid profit margin, with taking a risk on the bigger client, the new market segment, or the new hire takes time and patience.


Do not be afraid to take risks. It is the risks in your life, personally and professionally, that more often pay the biggest dividends. 

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