After 12 years in the advertising business helping to promote companies, their products and services, I find it baffling to hear from business owners and executives that now is the time to reduce or eliminate their sales force.
With less business to go around, now is the time to increase the efforts of seeking out more business opportunities. This means that sales people need to connect with existing customers more often and to prospect more. While some companies are closing up because of a lack of sufficient business, the opportunity may arise for proactive sales people to court these displaced clients. You need sales people to make this connection. So why is it that companies are eliminating or reducing their sales people? While understanding that there may be a reason to reduce under achievers, the blatant cutting of payroll costs will probably lead to a downward spiral of reduced business, further cuts and possibly closing the doors permanently.
Cut the marketing program to the point that the company loses identity and ultimately, business in the market place. I hear from many people that they prefer to attend versus exhibit a trade show. What does this tell you? Companies are rightfully looking to efficiently use their money and people to connect with a potentially large prospective customer base as well as view products and services that could create efficiencies within a business. The more efficient meeting place for businesses to connect is now the trade show floor. Companies need to look at the costs of exhibiting done correctly and how to cultivate and follow up with the booth attendees. Seasoned trade show and promotional marketing consultants can make these events successful by capitalizing on the connections made at the show.
Paying out bonuses for improved performance is the right thing to do which is the carrot-and-stick approach. Even though sales may have dropped, if the key business operators can slow down or reverse the sales downturn and create efficiencies, thus saving the company money and creating a sounder base, then they should be rewarded. It is the companies that are not hitting their objectives and yet still continue to pay out bonuses while laying off sales people, makes you wonder what they’re real objectives are.
Ask for input from all employees and schedule a company meeting to review the objectives and decisions the entire work force. Many employees will step up to the plate when they know where the company stands.