Powering Through The Economic Crisis

You may have noticed that I’ve been posting less frequently during the past two weeks.  ESR is in the midst of a number of projects and new initiatives.  In addition, I’ve been on an increasing number of phone calls with clients, prospects, vendors, sales training associations’ leadership, and business associates.

I wrote Here’s What’s Going On two weeks ago.  There has been lots of activity (and some productivity, as well!) since then.

Here are some points, observations, and opinions I’ve taken from my activities over the past few weeks:

  1. I read all the news.  I understand the economic situation.  But deals are getting done.  Four of ESR’s clients I spoke with yesterday are cautiously optimistic about their Q1 numbers. They’re winning business.  A few others are struggling.  But the point is, there is still business going on.

  2. At the moment, ESR believes sales training will be down twenty or more percent in 2009.  If we don’t hit bottom and come out the other end of this situation soon, that number could go down much further.  That’s bad news for a lot of reasons.

  3. As a result of the slowdown in training, many of the sales training companies we cover have been hit hard.  They’ve significantly reduced their staffs and slowed or stopped development.  If you’re engaging with a sales training company, you really need to understand their current financial situation.  ESR isn’t interested in advertising which firms are having trouble.  But we do guide our clients in the right direction, helping them figure out how to mitigate any associated risks.

  4. We’ve convinced a number of our clients to redeploy salespeople who aren’t suited for the sales positions they hold.  By that I mean performing a comprehensive assessment of their past and current performance, their skills, traits and behaviors against what is required to comply with and execute their selling process.  Relative to that, I recently did a briefing call with DDI.  They’re a leader in the talent management and assessment area.  I’ve written about PIWorldwide as well.  HR Chally is another solid alternative.  Now, more than ever, every company, even the smallest, needs to have a talent management/assessment firm partner with a sales specialty.

  5. Under Brian Lambert’s leadership, ASTD is making significant progress in the sales training discipline.  Brian has a lot to offer the industry. I sit on the ASTD sales training committee along with a number of very experienced and professional consultants, trainers and practitioners.  (Al Case, ESR’s Principal Analyst, and I will be presenting at ASTD’s Conference in June.  The subject:  How to Measure Sales Performance Improvement.)

  6. We’ve had a record number of inquiries come in during the past month from people charged with driving sales training initiatives within their companies.  The common theme is that they have to “get it right this time. ”  They can’t waste any more money on ineffective training and, with this economy, they’ve got to get their salespeople bringing in as much business as possible.  Even with overall sales training down, this is encouraging.  Several of those people are charged with moving their companies from positions of commodity to value providers.  A bit late for that, but better late than never.

  7. With the last point in mind, Irish sales trainer, coach and consultant Niall Devitt wrote a post this week that describes precisely how sales leaders go about buying sales training the wrong way.  The post, entitled Need Sales Training? Let’s Sit Down and Talk About It is well worth reading.   Niall sets an example for sales trainers as well.  I commend him on his understanding of how sales performance improvement should be approached and his integrity for not folding, even with money on the table during these tough times.

  8. Louise Leonard, program manager for The Dublin Institute of Technology and Enterprise Ireland’s International Selling Programme, sent me a list of sales-related concerns expressed by the sales executives and CEOs who are participating in the program.  I’ll be addressing many of them during upcoming two-week, five-seminar trip to Ireland.  Although Ireland is plowing through their own set of economy-related challenges, the International Selling Programme has  a record number of participants this year.  Better attendance at each of the sessions as well.  This program is a seriously good place for Irish companies to be investing their money.

Photo: © 2004 Dave Stein — MacGregor Powering Through a Summer Day

Comments

  1. says

    Dave,

    I am news junkie but I got to say – it’s depressing to be taking the same ‘drink’ of news and politics as it was even 6 months ago. Your comment that “deals are getting done” is a leadership message and one that I wish was being stated and covered a bit more frequently on cable and broadcast news. Yeah – things are pretty tough right now for a lot of people and companies but business is being done. And when this mess is over, many companies (and people) will emerge stronger for having survived.

    To your other point – if you are a b to b selling company, you are spending money on sales + marketing. Perhaps a lot of money. What a great time to examine what’s imacting revenue and what isn’t and while budgets are being cut perhaps a better approach is to direct spending on things that you know will impact customer retention or growth.

    Brian Zanghi
    CEO
    http://www.kadient.com

  2. says

    It’s quite sad to see in economic slow down that companies slash training budgets or eliminate them altogether. It’s this time that they really should be focusing on training so that they can hit the ground running when we do come out of this recession.

  3. says

    Dave, Thanks for the mention. The construction industry in Ireland has taken a real battering in the last 12 mts. We have a number of clients in this sector, and have already seen a correlation between training spend and sales in last quarter of 08. One client in particular was very close to 07 figs.

    I think business needs to reflect a little more before cutting and deciding where to spend training budgets. They should continue to spend in the areas that are lightly to have impact/ROI, rather than just make across the board cuts.

    If business has x amount to spend on sales training, they need to consider what can and needs to be achieved for this amount. Some businesses continue to train for the sake of training. Training without a purpose is often no better than no training.

  4. says

    You’re right, Brian. Great time to explore inside sales and marketing. I can guarantee areas in both disciplines must be altered, changed, eliminated or added. Too much has changed in the past six months.

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