Everyone seems to be fascinated by the economy and how to manage a business when all the predictions seem dismal. Depending on your industry this may be a time when you find yourself really scrambling to keep up, or you could find yourself with time on your hands as things just slow down.
Its important to spend your time doing productive things and not just in frantic activity. Sometimes the best outcome of tough times is that you are primed and ready when things start to turn around. Two areas worth your investment are process improvement and skills improvement. Both will pay dividend in the near- and long-term.
Remember that when funding is tight, your lead generation vehicles will generate fewer productive leads, because fewer people have the funding and permissions they need. Given that situation, this is a good time to look at your lead management process and ask how you can improve it. How can you filter out the curious and focus on the funded? Could you provide a downloadable presentation or white paper for the curious and ask them to self-qualify?
Another good use of your time is skills improvement or sharpening the saw, as Stephen Covey would say. Invest some time in training to sharpen your teams questioning and listening skills. Those skills will help you to understand the predicaments that your customers are in and give them both good advice and good solutions. Improving the skills of your sales team to generate more business is a lot less costly than expanding the team.
If you dont have an internal training team, then hire a trainer for a sales process or sales skills workshop. I’d love to help you with it or to recommend others. And if you cant afford a trainer then, at least buy everyone a book and go through it together. There are some sales book suggestions at this link. Be sure to offer it in both paper and audio formats; look for video as well. Hold regular discussion sessions and apply the lessons to your business. Ask someone to formulate discussion questions from the book. Assign someone else to prepare presentation slides with graphic illustrations. Ask people to try out the new ideas and report back. Create a game or a contest. Different people learn differently, so try to engage all the senses.
Tough times come to everyone sooner or later. When they do come, invest the time wisely to keep your team motivated and to learn the lessons that will help you be at the head of the pack when recovery begins.
Technical Sales Consultants, LLC