In tough times when budgets are tight, who gets first crack at limited resources? Here is a sales leadership message worth considering; “In tough times you put the customer first. In tough times, sales is the last place to cut and the first place to invest.” This is not a self serving message for sales executives. It reflects the importance of the sales function to your company’s bottom line in a weak economy.
Sales people are the face of your company to customers. Skilled, motivated sellers deliver the kind of service that customers expect and need when times are tough. Think about it from the standpoint of what the typical seller provides. Articulates customer needs. Works with customers to determine how their products and services can help. Crafts, delivers and negotiates proposals and pricing. Manages order processing. Assists in implementation and customer training. Deals with post implementation issues. And all the while maintains and builds relationships with current and new buying influences. If you cut back on sales resources…headcount, training, systems, support…which of the above job responsibilities will you ask sellers to scrimp on or forgo? You are not allowed to say “none of them”; if you cut back resource something has got to give.
So the message is simple. In tough times, when customers are hurting, use your sales force to help them solve their problems. In tough times, hold your customers close and your sales force closer. When the going gets tough, “sales eats first.”