November 07, 2008

The Psychology Of A Slowdown…

Psychologists have an interesting way of describing how we deal with set-backs, disappointments and disasters.  So, it struck me that the same principles probably apply to how we deal with such events as; a market slowdown, or a sales slide. 

In particular we, as sales managers, move through the key stages of; denial, anger, depression and acceptance?

Now, very few people are in denial regarding the present market slowdown - the media coverage has made sure we are all fully aware of the economic reality.   Here is a typical example:

'we already see a dramatic drop off in the number of government tenders  and we are anticipating the private sector to do something similar...'   No denial there - that manager is prepared for the worst.  But, what is he going to do about it?

John O Gorman and myself talk to dozens of managers every week, for sure some are 'angry' - 'the government, or the banks shouldn't have….' and many more are 'depressed' - 'I don't know where we will be at the end of it.. there is no real appetite for  business development in the short term at least...'

However, a growing number of sales managers have reached the all important acceptance stage and are now empowered to take action.  They are focused on the key strategies required for selling in a slowdown – increasing the level of sales activity, sharpening their sales skills, etc.

Here is an example: 'With the redundancies out of the way we are now very clearly focused on getting out in front of our customers, as well as potential customers – we know exactly what we need to do.  We need to sell, sell, sell...'

So, which stage are you in?  Is the rest of your management team at the same stage?  Do you know exactly what you need to do?

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