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How sales managers can keep their "game face" in challenging economic times

            In this case, I believe the why is as important as the how. When times are tough, people are watching even more closely as their leaders and managers address the issues. George Bush would have been just the next president, but he received more scrutiny than ever in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the first year of his first term.

            People are looking for reassurance that everything is going to be okay. Initially they may not like, but they come to understand tough decisions. As a sales manager, your job is to help them work through the challenges and maintain their focus on critical activities and key result areas.

 

  • Remember that this is new to some, if not all, of your people - Depending upon the ages of your team members, this could be the first economic downturn in their career. For the person who entered the workforce in the 2005 or so, it may look so bleak that he or she is wondering whether the business climate will ever improve. Reassure your younger team members that the economy is cyclical and what goes up must come down and vice versa.
  • Focus on the relationships - After Hurricane Hugo blasted the Carolinas in 1989, Texaco and BP sent letters to their credit card customers offering them condolences on any losses they may have suffered and some extra time to pay their balances. Taking care of your customers in those kind of times serves to strengthen key relationships and keeps them coming back in good times or bad.
  • Develop your people – When the economy is hitting on all cylinders, we might find it tough to stop and develop our people. How about when business slows down? If you maintain that you can’t afford to develop your people in either type of environment, perhaps you’re using economic conditions as an excuse not to do an important part of your job.
  • Have an attitude of gratitude – Find things for which to be grateful and show your appreciation to people for the positives. This example alone will stand out while others are moping and complaining about how bad things are.
  • Keep yourself in shape mentally and physically – Equip yourself to handle any bad news by taking care of your health all the way around. Continue reading and listening in your area of expertise. Find a new author whose material rings true for you and share that information. Make time for yourself to stay fresh so that you’re prepared for virtually anything that life and work throw at you.

             Whatever you do, understand that you must have enough in your own tank, whether it's perseverance or encouragement or can-do attitude, to share with your team. It won't be what you say, but what you do and how you do it that will make all the difference.

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