7 Simple Rules to Ensure the Sales Executive's Commission in a Downturn

Author: Souma Das
Area Vice President - India Sub Continent, Citrix Systems India
'Financial Tsunami' is the new phrase that has been coined to describe the current global market scenario. As the global markets reflect the U.S. financial meltdown, and Asia Pacific markets follow the Dow Jones and Nasdaq paths, the biggest worry of the Indian IT industry is how to steer clear the ship in these turbulent times. Are there any strategies or economic pathways that one can follow with confidence to tide over the Financial Tsunami?

Having successfully steered the organization through the dot com burst and the following slowdown, I have come to realize that in tough times, one needs to get back to the basics. Put your head down and follow some simple but effective rules with a clear focus on business.
Let me offer my 7 simple rules for sales people to combat the downturn:

Be close to your customer: Ensure that you are talking to your customer on a regular basis. In tough times your customers also look towards you for advice on how to leverage their existing infrastructure. By being in constant and regular touch with your customers you will have a pulse on how their business needs and priorities are changing and how you can help them to overcome the downturn. Tough times are opportunities for you to establish long lasting relationships with your customers. Remember that in good times everyone wants to be your friend but in tough times only your true friends stand by you. Be the true friend to your customer.

Articulate your service: Be articulate in communicating your organization's key messages to your customers. Convey to them in clear terms how your organization's offering or services can deliver a better and faster RoI to help them retain their competitive edge. Do you know your customers adequately to be able to explain to them how you can deliver a better RoI in a shorter timeframe or how you can help them leverage their existing infrastructure?

Innovate: A crisis is a great time to innovate, when you may have to think of ways of staying ahead of the competition, of being more efficient, of coming up with different marketing or product bundling ideas. Great innovative ideas originate at war times; likewise, wonderful business schemes come up to one's mind during challenging economic times.

Execute ruthlessly: The best strategic and business plans are worthless without proper execution. Focus ruthlessly on execution and keep an eye for details. Keep your eyes and ears open to your customers and follow up with them for their needs. Execute on your account plans without letting a day of plan slip out of schedule. If a customer has informed you to call them on a particular day, don't slip on that. If you don't execute on your plans, your competitor will do. Be paranoid about execution.

Leverage the team: As a sales person, you should be constantly leveraging the organization's resources to win deals. This is the time to focus clearly on leveraging all the resources at hand. Ask for input, both internal and external, partner the sales and tech teams, and utilize the marketing and back office personnel like a customer care team. They might know where the biggest opportunities or real efficiencies exist. Ask them, act on their recommendations, and recognize them for their ideas.

Act fast: Analyze your work and look at the time taken for each activity. Reduce the time taken for each action by 25-50 percent. If you used to take 6 hours before to send out a quote to the customer, now try to do it in 3 hours by working effectively and by leveraging all the resources. If you would normally take 3 hours to fix up meetings for the day, do the work a few days in advance so that each day has a clear direction and pre-appointed customers to meet. When this is done, it provides you with a competitive advantage.

Educate your eco-system: Talk to your eco-system of partners, service providers, and vendors. Make them understand the changing landscape as it pertains to your industry, and instill in them a sense of urgency. Leverage their knowledge and help them to improve their efficiency. Work with their sales teams and be a leader to them.

These 7 rules apply to your daily and regular sales days as well. But in tough times it really pays to follow these simple basic rules and implement them.

As a sales person with over 20 years of experience, I found these rules very effective and they have been my guiding light, and I hope they become yours too.

Happy selling!
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Reader's comments(36)
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Posted by: mary lovely david - Monday 26th, September 2011
2: thanx
Posted by: Siva Prakash - Monday 04th, July 2011
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Posted by: mounace love love - Thursday 09th, June 2011
4: Dear Mr. Das!
its nice to read the Ideas you have suggested , I m sure it will make a lot of difference in retaining customers in the trying times.
Lokendra Singh
Posted by: Lokendra Singh Jadon - Tuesday 07th, September 2010
5: In fact most of the sales people know these rules, several follow some of them and some people apply all. In my opinion those are successful , who apply all. For me at least this is a kind of reminder ... I am sure i would follow all the rules after reading it.
Thanks a lot fo sharing this kind of article which is applicable for all the time...not only in Tsunami... Thanks again.
Posted by: Pramod Rai - Friday 06th, August 2010
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Posted by: charity godwin wilton - Tuesday 27th, July 2010
8: Dear Sir ,
I really support ur views .Also u know most of the time a company fails to take feedback/follow up with the customer .because of which that company looses its shine in Market.This rule , if anyone follow , that would surely help the company to retain its edge over its competitor.
Posted by: Rabindra Kumar - Friday 23rd, July 2010
9: it is good service
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10: Hi,
My Name is Biranchi Narayan Mishra. Got ur very useful articles. Plz send more articles to my maild id
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13: (

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Posted by: zanab zadi zadi - Monday 05th, April 2010
14: Respected Sir,
By reading this article,i found that these 7 simple rules are very effective for an organization's to increase its sales and make customers loyal towards its brand. I totally agree with you.
Posted by: anchit agrawal - Saturday 06th, March 2010
15: Hi,

Its true of course,b'coz am into a public business and my business in USA also...we work as a team and leverage each other time .but the difference is we should do some thing which will we can carry fwd...well our thought process really matching and i want to know more abt you..if u do't mind.
Posted by: Panda WorldWide - Monday 22nd, February 2010
16: Dear Sir,
I do agree with it.I also belive the same thing that if we think that what we are delivering is not a service , but a product. Than our thinking gets change by 360 because good company deliver the product at right time, in right market with quality. i do 100% agree with all what u said, but for that we have to think that i am not running a system but sytem is runing me and i am like a company.
Posted by: RAKESH NARU - Monday 22nd, February 2010
17: Hi Sir,

Its true . thanks for your article
Posted by: patnam ravali - Friday 19th, February 2010
18: Dear sir, it's really fantastic lesson to sales people, head's of u
Posted by: Anurag Kumar Singh - Monday 01st, February 2010
19: great to read ur post sr
Posted by: Arun goswami - Tuesday 12th, January 2010
20: Thank You for your post sir. It was very informative.

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Posted by: Siddharth G Pandey - Tuesday 12th, January 2010
21: Nice Brief | crispy article. Realy helpful to me in particular.Thanks.
Posted by: gobala krishnan rajendran - Friday 27th, November 2009
22: Dear Mr.Das

This is really very nice article for those professional that is in sales area but main if in today’s world if we think from the customer side then only 5% out of 100 sales person is bothering about his customer, rest is only bother for their sale even they are not ready to know that who and what is the customer. These 7 rules shows customers are king but in practical do you think is it really happening. I am extremely apologetic for any mistake as its my personal point of view which might be wrong because I am not a sales person and this statement given by me by the being of customer.
Posted by: Avinash a Kumar - Monday 23rd, November 2009
23: Dear Mr das, these are very nice points a sales man normally posses before meeting any customer. Nowadays we are observing that some sales execuives are not following the basic principles of selling.Due to this a real salaes man is suffering. No professionalism, no ethics, and some salesmen they do not know when to talk with a customer. Nowdays we treat the customer is everything either, god or friend or king whatever it may be.Both should act professional. Professionals like u should come up with good ideas for future salesmen.I Have a small idea which implemented in my profession, if you have a customer really believe you and trust you in all aspects just remember the birthday of the customer and wish him in the morning with a small flower bunch which he has not expected from you give you the BEST results.It won't cost you much but remember it costs so much sentimentally. If you do little extra to a customer which he has not expected will make the difference. I donot know whether i am giving a clear picture because, i am not a sales person but i do sales through SERVICE. Thank u Mr das once again.
Posted by: manimala bhogavilli - Sunday 22nd, November 2009
24: hi Sauma.Been thru your article.good but dont you think that what you have written is the basic necessity of a sales exec,without which he just cannot sell.Why dont you come up with some new theory which shouild be practical and effective.
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Posted by: kelly love williams - Wednesday 21st, October 2009
Be close to your customer:
here biggest question is how many decision maker we get in touch with us to sell our product?
Articulate your service:
ya this good idea, whenever needs comes definitely they will get back.
while talking with customer we should not talk in sales pitch, customer comes to know that he is trying to push some thing, ask simple question and let them to talk,and grab the info, and slowly recommend our services.

Execute ruthlessly:
Leverage the team:

Act fast:
Educate your eco-system:

Posted by: Chandra Hegde BPC - Wednesday 30th, September 2009
28: I feel the 'Indian way of doing things' appear to be comparatively slow most of the time, therefore 'Act Fast' will have to be given more prominance, mainly in Govt. sector and in certain cases of Private Sector as well
Posted by: Somasundaran Chakkambath - Saturday 26th, September 2009
29: Dear Mr. Souma Das,
You have correctly mentioned the above points and the same are relevent to all B2B field. In todays competitive business world | in the context of financial tsunami, Customer is the real king.
Posted by: Snehashis Basu - Sunday 20th, September 2009
30: Bull Crap
Posted by: Charles Srinarayan - Monday 24th, August 2009
31: You are right Sir. We need to guide our Customers, and satify them..We need to treat them well. as there are part of our business, we need to handle them in a better way..
Posted by: bn suresh babu - Wednesday 19th, August 2009
32: Thank you sir for guiding tips to improve performance in the present situation. But i think your suggestions are always useful in every situation. The basic need of selling is to understand your customer | his requirement. If you know thise things you are always successful in business. Todays time the relationship marketing is a key tool to be a successful salesman. aagain thanks
Posted by: Fateh Prakash Joshi - Tuesday 18th, August 2009
33: This is nice article for who is in sales area and reinforce their power and develope good values
Posted by: Balasubramanian Murugan - Friday 14th, August 2009
34: nice one sir,

it will really help the sales executives for there day to day work
Posted by: kapil jain - Sunday 09th, August 2009
35: These are some good lines but i think if you can pay your attention at your best on your customer in terms of there needs and in terms of upsell and interms of customer service its effective.
Posted by: Gaurav Singh Rathore - Sunday 09th, August 2009
36: I think YES.
These seven rules states that Customer is the KING. Let out profession be service providers, product developers, marketing agents, but using these 7 rules at least we can survive in current global scenario.
Also following these rules is a process and over a period of time achiveable.
Posted by: Shrikant Swami - Thursday 13th, November 2008
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