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7 Simple Rules to Ensure the Sales Executive's Commission in a Downturn
Souma Das
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
'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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