Your business just got through virus scares in 2020, the following economic shutdown, and the current supply chain problems.  Congratulations.  Now, the economic seas are getting choppy again with inflation, federal budget deficits, and a pending economic downturn [recession].

 

The following quotes are from the people in charge of your economy and money supply. Even your Federal Economic Leaders are guilty of getting their revenue forecast wrong.

“The Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernake, January 10th, 2008

 

“We suspect transitory factors may be at work, inflation should return to the Fed’s target over time.”

Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, May 1, 2019

 

“I believe through the rest of the year, to see higher inflation rates, maybe around 3 percent, but I personally believe that this represents transitory factors.”

Treasury Secretary Janet Yell, June 5, 2021

 

“The risk of higher inflation becoming entrenched has certainly increased. I don’t think it’s high at this moment…”

Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, December 15, 2021

 

 

“Inflation is much too high.”

Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, May 4, 2022

 

“The question is: Why did they delay … Why did they delay their response? I think in retrospect, yes, it was a mistake. And I think they agree it was a mistake.”

Former Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernake, May 16, 2022

 

 

Economists can disagree about the economic future.  However, CEOs like you must be proactive and sail the ship through rough seas to obtain the same outcomes as with calm seas and fair winds.

 

This brilliant video by Ray Dalio will help you make the decision for yourself about where our economy is headed.

 

 

Are you salespeople the prey or the predator?

 

Predators hunt. Prey wait for something to happen, and it usually isn’t good.

 

Predators have great skills. They can reach decision-makers, qualify prospects, and take business from your competitors. Prey take inbound leads. They pitch prospects too early, send proposals to unqualified buyers, and hope for orders.

 

Your predators will demonstrate excellence in these skills.

 

  • Hunting. They will hunt consistently.
  • Reaching Decision Makers. They engage & understand who can say yes to a new idea or direction.
  • Consultative Selleing. They ask enough questions, good questions, and tough questions of your prospects & customers.
  • Selling Value. They sell ROI, not price, & outcomes your customers need.
  • Qualifying. They are relentless about qualifying prospects & deals for fit.

In a recession, you need hunters to take the business from your competition – new logos. You need salespeople who understand that they must work 3x as hard to earn the same amount of business in good economic conditions. They are willing to do the work. These salespeople have commitment and desire – GRIT.

 

Strong account managers build strong relationships based on value which provides crucial support to predators. Account managers must prove why your key accounts must partner with you.

 

Strong account managers have different skills than an elite salesperson.  They are developing relationships deep and wide with your customers. Top Account Managers will demonstrate strong abilities with these competencies.

 

  • Will build Strong Relationships. They dig into issues before they become challenges for anyone.
  • Will Handle Organizational Politics. They ask “why” a lot, and do not discount changes in your customer’s behavior.
  • Will Make Friends Everywhere. They have a strong mindset and will ingratiate themselves with customer stakeholders.
  • Will Know Real Budgets. Understands the customer’s real ability to spend money,
  • Will Follow Up Often. Stay in touch without being needy or pushy.
  • Will Manage Time Effectively. They focus on current account expansion and are highly organized.

 

 

What do salespeople who fall into the prey category look like, and do?

 

These salespeople are not being effective, and do not exhibit a desire to make the necessary changes, nor are they open to coaching. These are traits of salespeople who are prey.

 

  • Underperformance. They miss the monthly revenue objective more than 60% of the time.
  • Weak Pipeline. Anything and everything enter the pipeline but sit there without movement.
  • Missed KPIs. They are not executing the activities needed to fill a pipeline.
  • Mindset. You will hear excuses for weak performance, not responsibility.  They are unwilling to make the necessary changes for improvement.

How many of each type do you have in your sales organization?

 

 

You have hidden experience and knowledge.

 

  • During the shutdown of 2020, what did you learn about your sales organization?

 

  • What did you learn about your customers?

 

  • How do they react to trouble, fear, and difficult economic times?

 

  • Also, look at the same data from 2008 & 2009 to inform your decisions and strategy now.

 

In April 2020, we asked CEOs to have strategy meetings with their leadership teams to focus on ideas around what works in bad times. Great CEOs have leaders with different perspectives which allows them to develop internal and external strategies that are successful.  You know how to make great decisions when you have great insights and information.  Tap your leadership team.

 

Different Economic Times Need Appropriate Strategy.

 

Your sales organization needs your leadership and your direction. The hunters and strong account managers will do the work, but they will need help from direction and focus. Communicate with transparency and confidence so they will execute with poise and tenacity.

 

Next step—take the plan to your sales team and discuss the strategy and tactics.

 

Challenge your sales team to think about value when talking to customers and prospects. The predators and strong account managers will do the work more effectively using your guidance to uncover the necessary tactical pieces.

 

 

Who doesn’t need a few more ideas?! Consider these –

 

  • Ask your leadership to talk with the sales team and offer their expertise and share experiences. The CFO can role-play scenarios and practice the messaging. Salespeople practicing?? Shocking, I know!

 

  • How can your salespeople add value for your customers without price concessions? Adjusting delivery size & frequency, packaging, and service agreements are all on the table. Be creative.

 

  • Have your CFO explain what is important to him/her regarding suppliers & vendors. Give the salespeople the perspective of what your customers believe and do.

 

  • Tell your salespeople if they can get a meeting with your customer’s CEO, you will attend that meeting. This strongly signals your commitment to both your people and your clients. Bonus—your people will see your craftsmanship and learn from an expert.

 

Being proactive will drive results and move the needle for your business. No matter which economists are right about the recession, your team will be better. Being better in a down market means they are great in one of growth and prosperity.

 

The economic leaders I quoted at the beginning of this article are very smart and have great minds working on their forecasts.  Yet, they get it wrong sometimes.  The impact is significant.

 

You are the economic leader of your company. You rely on your sales leaders and team to provide you a revenue forecast.  If the sales team is made up of more prey than predator, the data is highly suspect.  One of the critical steps of good information is having systems & processes that are stronger than your people.  For now, based on the criteria identified, who do you have on your team?

 

Not sure if you have predators or prey on your sales team right now?  Find out now! 

 

Our offer for the summer of 2022.  90-Minute Sales Audit Consultation.  We will ask a lot of questions on five aspects of your sales organization.  Salespeople.  Sales Management.  Sales systems & processes.  Sales Hiring.  Sales Leadership.  A simple way to have insights as to where to look inside your business for trouble.  The cost?  An hour and half of our time.  Book Here.

 

The phrase that our Navy, and Marines have used for years to wish others well, and a safe journey seems appropriate here.  

“Fair winds, and following seas!”