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
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.