Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford

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Recovering From A Tough Year - December 9, 2017

There are times throughout the year where I consult (on a freelance basis) to sales organizations on topics of performance, hiring, planning, and other sales related topics. Last week I engaged with an old client whose sales team has had a very tough year. Having had a few of those myself over the course of 24 years in sales, I was able to counsel them from the heart. The key to my message was “nothing lasts forever”.

 

Sales is a career that has many up’s and down’s. It is certainly not the only career choice with an emotional swing, but one of the few that has an emotional swing that occurs on a near frequent basis. It’s one thing to lose a deal here and there, where the emotional swing is downward, while hitting a few homeruns and the emotional swing goes up. But, what do you do to motivate an entire team with a years-worth of disappointments or losses?

 

My client gained a few new customers this year, four to be exact, but also lost nine. They started the year with high hopes and great anticipation that the year would be full of wins, adding clients and not losing clients, and expanding market share. However, the loss of a longtime sales rep to illness was unexpected and certainly not planned for. Client losses did not come all at one time, rather spread across the calendar year, but with little-to-no reasoning or explanation as to why the client was leaving. The sales team did not take advantage of opportunities presented to ask why and now it may simply be too late.

 

On a bright note, the company is stable overall, and has two new consumer facing products being launched mid-next year. Knowing the company has a survival mentality in the C-suite, it was time to put the sales team in their place, in a positive way.

 

Through my counseling, based on the theme that nothing lasts forever, we explored the reasoning that went into the annual plans that obviously fell short. We outlined plans for 2018 and talked about setting more realistic expectations. We discussed personal goal setting (see last week’s post) in addition to business goal setting. And, we talked about why the company will be successful in spite of the sales team members. Nothing lasts forever – even some jobs.

 

The sales team members needed to come to terms with the fact that their own motivation dwindled throughout the year. Not one person stepped into a leadership role, rather it appears everyone was too worried about losing another client. Instead of pushing ahead, the sales reps simply wanted to protect their individual territory. They became more reactionary instead of being proactive with ideas for their clients.

 

At the end of my engagement we seemed to all be on the same page and in tandem with the plans set forth by the C-suite. Somewhat surprisingly, and in a positive way, each sales rep owned their mistakes and missteps. They recognized their shortcomings and outlined business and personal goals. Each has made a commitment, not just to themselves, but to each other to support the goals of the entire organization with an eye on their own individual goals. And, management has agree to hold the team more accountable, by being more proactively involved in day-to-day and week-to-week management of the sales process.

 

Nothing lasts forever. Start the year with a fresh perspective, keep your eyes on the prize each and every day, and 2018 will put 2017 in the dust.

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