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  • Why do tough times flush out weaker salespeople? (Short piece for Director magazine).

Why do tough times flush out weaker salespeople? (Short piece for Director magazine).

    Steve Jessop
    By Steve Jessop

    There are many salespeople who spend most of their lives in a 'comfort zone' talking about their products to people who understand their products. The IT sector is an especially good example: it is loaded with people who talk technology to technology people. In buoyant times, with proven products to call upon, and customers with big budgets to spend, eye-catching sums of money are earned by the people who ride the crest of this wave. In tough times, the business people ('budget-setters' so to speak) insist on seeing the proof of where and how the products will deliver a real return-on-investment for their business before they will consider parting with their cash. This exposes the fatal limitation in the salesperson's armoury -- he doesn't understand his customer's business and isn't able to connect his products and services to his customer's real here & now business needs:

    • he isn't really asking questions about the customer's business
    • too often he isn't really interested anyway (he'd rather be talking about his products)
    • very often he isn't talking to someone who can speak with authority about the business

    The conclusion, inevitably, is no demonstrable return-on-investment for the customer and no sale!!

    Those who wish to improve on this position should consider the following options:

    • make sure that the product detail translates into what is likely to be advantageous for the customer's business
    • ensure that you and your salespeople are adept at finding real, quantifiable, business needs for your products
    • find other roles for people who clearly cannot or will not step up to this challenge
    • ensure that the new requirement features centrally in your recruitment plans